Esai Velasquez

Lighting serves to create a spotlight for my subject. Throughout my photographic journey, lighting has always influenced my perception of photography. As I began photographing within the confined space of my apartment, I gravitated to harsh contrasting light and details as a way to highlight and hide parts of my home and my character. The more I began exploring portraiture with my family, the more important lighting became. It served its purpose of accentuating the most profound parts of my home and my family to create a spotlight for those most important to my journey. I want to give my grandmother her spotlight. I want to give my grandfather his spotlight. I want to give my mother her spotlight. In return for continuing to work. In return for treating me like his son. In return for raising me by herself.

I’m afraid their memories will only last my lifetime. Even if I’m lucky enough to pass down their life to the next generation, it’s only finite. It’s not guaranteed. What life they sacrificed to get me to where I am today is life not worth leaving up to chance. I need something that is guaranteed. A photo can capture a moment, a photo is something that is guaranteed, a photo can give them their moment in the light. In return for everything they’ve done, I’ve shared this project to illustrate my gratitude. I want to thank them for the everlasting memories. I want to give them an eternity.


Esai Velasquez is an Afro-Latino photographer based in Queens, New York. Working primarily as a digital photographer, his work has moved from observational and street photography to exploring abstraction and portraiture. His work takes inspiration from filmmakers like Wong Kar-Wai and the A24 film company. Esai’s most recent work has documented the life of his family through the past year. His work has strongly focused on the usage of natural and artificial lighting, vibrant color, and close detail to communicate his emotional connection to photography as a whole and his family. He is a senior attending Bard High School Early College in Manhattan. He is currently studying photography in the Teen Academy Imagemakers program at the International Center of Photography and youth media video production at the Downtown Community Television Center.