By Cynthia David
Filipino Street and Documentary photographer Xyza Cruz Bacani has been living and working in Hong Kong for over 10 years as a domestic worker when she was discovered through social media by US-based photo journalist Rick Rocamora, who has been her mentor ever since. Her incredible photos featuring dramatic composition, contrasts and light have been featured and shown in various media outlets such as The New York Times, CNN, South China Morning Post and were on exhibit at Christine Park Gallery UK, Bronx Documentary Centre New York, The Arrow Factory in Beijing, and Bangkok Art & Culture Centre to name a few. A Magnum Foundation Fellow since 2015, she has won several accolades and recognition for her work about human trafficking giving a voice to the marginalized migrant workers who are often abused and neglected. She is able to support herself through commissioned projects as well as through print sales, some of which hang in offices and galleries.
Xyza has come a long way from her humble beginnings working in Hong Kong. After buying a camera with money loaned to her by her boss, she spent her free time after work photographing the streets and migrant workers. She was actively posting her photos on social media when it caught her mentor’s (Mr. Rick Rocamora) eye. “Social Media has done a lot for me” says Xyza. Her images reflect her moods, and the stories she sees on the streets. “Images are stories, frozen in time. I try to shoot as often as possible to train myself, and I consider the camera a part of my body,” says Xyza. Her work is often compared to Vivian Maier; a strange coincidence is that they both worked as a nanny and took to photography in their spare time. Without any formal training, she went online to study the work of Henri Cartier-Bresson, Fan Ho and Pedro Luis Raota. She is always aware of her surroundings, often bringing out her camera just in time to catch a scene that catches her eye. When she was offered the opportunity that helped change her life; the Magnum Foundation Human Rights Fellow, it was a big leap of faith on her part as it meant being away from her family and not being able to work to support them. Her employer and family supported her and it has since opened a lot of opportunities for her.
She works full-time as a professional photographer with commissioned projects from publications that feature her stories. Her prints also command high value and hang in various offices and galleries around the world. These help her pursue her passion; which is the plight of migrant workers, to bring awareness about what they encounter on a daily basis as this is an issue she feels needs more awareness.
Xyza Bacani is a Filipina Street and Documentary Photographer who has been featured in New York Times Lens Blog, CNN and various international media publications not only for her excellence in photography, but also for her inspirational story. Working as a domestic worker in Hong Kong for almost a decade, she used photography to raise awareness about under-reported stories, focusing on migrants and human rights issues. She is one of the MAGNUM FOUNDATION HUMAN RIGHTS FELLOWS 2015, has exhibited worldwide, won awards in photography and is the recipient of a resolution passed by the Philippines House of Representatives in her honor, HR No. 1969. Xyza is one of the BBC’s 100 Women of the World 2015, 30 Under 30 Women Photographers 2016, and Forbes 30 Under 30 Asia 2016.Represented By: Redux Pictures New York City, USA
Christine Park Gallery London, United Kingdom
Instagram account: www.instagram.com/xyzacruzbacani/