When it comes to sensitive photo assignments, one Inquirer photographer begins with a conversation

Every week, we present a gallery of recent pictures taken by our staff photojournalists and tell the story behind one of them. This week, Inquirer staff photographer Jose Moreno talks about how he approached a sensitive assignment to photograph a woman who had been ordered by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement to leave the country in just 45 days.

Verónica del Carmen Lara Márquez is photographed at her home in Philadelphia, Monday, Feb 26, 2020. Veronica was given 45 days to leave the country or to be deported.
JOSE F. MORENO / Staff Photographer
Verónica del Carmen Lara Márquez is photographed at her home in Philadelphia, Monday, Feb 26, 2020. Veronica was given 45 days to leave the country or to be deported.

Photographers don’t always know what to expect when they go on an assignment.

That was the case for Inquirer photojournalist Jose Moreno, who said there was some uncertainty when he and reporters met with Verónica del Carmen Lara Márquez last week.

The 32-year-old mother from El Salvador had been told by ICE to leave the United States in 45 days.

“I was not blazing photos or trying to set up a photo right away,” Moreno said.

Moreno and reporters began their meeting with Lara Márquez by listening to her situation and letting her know they empathized with her. People can feel when a photograph is the first thing on a photographer’s mind, he said.

“In this case, it was simple for me because I was born in the same country she was born,” Moreno said.

Lara Márquez was hesitant to be identifiable in a photograph, Moreno said. But there are ways to show who someone is in a picture without showing his or her face.

“In this photo, we were lucky to see all those Virgin Mary [posters] on the wall,” Moreno said. “You have all this stuff around that’s really going to give a background of who this person is.”

Rachel Molenda, Digital Photo Editor

» SEE MORE: Last week’s staff photo gallery and the staff photography page

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