Alejandra López-Zaballa is a well traveled, award winning documentary photographer with over 70 countries on her punch card. Today she joins us to share her journey, her documentary work in the orphan camps of Nairobi, Kenya to Oaxaca, Mexico and so much more.

Growing up with a mother who painted often, she quickly found her creativity in painting and dancing… But as with most families of Spain at the time, she found herself obligated to pursue a degree and lucrative career. Which as we all know, is a rare association with the path of photography.

I said to my mom, “I want to quit school and I want to just go to the dancing school eight hours a day, because I want to become a professional dancer… ” To which her mother said, “Oh and you want to starve too…” [laughter] Alejanda’s response… “Yes”

Alejandra speaking on her first mother-daughter discussion about going into the arts.

Over the years and through the great successes of her day job, she eventually found her path in the arts following a move to Thailand. It was there where she picked up the camera and forced herself to learn how to truly develop human interest narratives that can vibrate throughout the world.

…I was going two weeks to the Philippines, two weeks to Myanmar, two weeks to Japan… So that is really when I think I can say, I started to become a photographer… [It] was when I was able to spend 5 hours on a spot for something to happen, when I was able to wake up in the morning at 2 o’clock to climb a mountain and be at the peak at sunrise. When I was able to take photos of people without getting embarrassed or nervous. When I was able to take photos of people in the streets and they felt fine, comfortable. I develop all those skills, the soft skills, by doing it, by doing it and doing it thousands of times.

Alejandra speaking on her development as a photographer.

Alejandra shares her thoughts on the importance of documentary projects, the difficulty in gaining awareness and the difference recognition can make, for those in need.

When people are more aware, people want to do things… people want to change the world from their little world and we can all add a grain of salt. We don’t need to do a huge thing. If we all do a little thing, the sum of all those little things is gonna be an amazing, huge thing.

Alejandra speaking on project recognition and attention.

As we move into her dedicated work, we discuss “Shelters and Futures”, a project where Alejandra López-Zaballa focuses her camera on an orphan house in Oaxaca, Mexico, capturing the lives of young girls who have been removed from their home due to the inability of their parents to continue caring for them. The reasons vary from young mothers, crime, health and much more and over the course of the last 3 years, she has annually stayed for weeks on end, capturing intimate fine art imagery of the children, workers and surrounding landscape to tell the story of struggle and success.

Mexico City – visiting Alejandra and Dario with Peg and Charlie

We also examine “Bangkok Soul”, her work at the HIV camps in Nairobi, the common threads connecting the world, the many ways Alejandra self-funds her projects through contests and print sales, as well her workshops in Mexico City and so much more.

So now it’s time to stop reading, gaze through the gallery below and click the play button above!

This is StreetPX, and the street awaits….

This episode brought to you by Glass Key Photo in San Francisco – Get your analog gear, film, repairs and more at 1230 Sutter Street, just off Van Ness Avenue in mid-town San Francisco. Open 7 days a week, 12pm-6pm.


Alejandra López-Zaballa Teaser Gallery


Alejandra López-Zaballa Links

Show Notes