Jose, the Santa Ana neighborhood cotton candy vendor rides his bike loaded with a new stock of candy to sell on Jan. 16, 2022. Credit: FRANK VERA
The complexities that lie in the city of Santa Ana presented themselves to me firsthand through my neighborhood: where gangs thrived and most importantly through the unique lessons and wisdom of my father, a gardener, and my mother, a housekeeper.
Editor’s note: This is an occasional series where Voice of OC works with local community photographers to offer residents a first-hand look at the local sites and scenes of Orange County.
I almost didn’t make it out of my neighborhood, for drivebys were rampant, but I still prevailed.
It is through the immigrant stories, and shared lived experiences of my parents and community that I decided to take up photographing Santa Ana.
My name is Francisco Vera, and I am a photographer born and raised in Santa Ana.
Photography is my passion.
During the night, I work graveyard shifts that enable me to photograph during the day– this is intentional.
It’s a sacrifice I am willing to make in order to dedicate my time to capturing life during the day.
I photograph many walks of life, from the street vendor selling flowers on the side of the street to the young man who lost his life because of gang violence while his mother weeps at the memorial site days later.
I always felt this city was diverse and it made me want to grab a camera and start photographing– imagining how eye-opening it would be if viewers could see through my perspective.
Thinking back, I wish I had taken up photography sooner because there are so many things I’ve experienced that I could’ve shared with everyone. Stories lost to time that I had the chance to tell through photographs: The lost art, buildings, signs, and people that will never come back.
Here’s what I’ve have captured so far:
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