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#LensLuminaries: Angela Ponce

8 months ago

Documentary photographer Angela Ponce explores social issues within the Latin American region, with a particular focus on the narratives of Peruvian Indigenous communities and climate change. She won third place in the Sony World Photography Awards 2022 Latin America Professional Award for the project There Will Only be Black Mountains, where she documented the mining boom taking place in the provinces of Puno, Ayacucho and Cusco in the Andes, and how it is affecting the local communities. Ponce went on to win first place in last year's edition with her series Guardians of the Glaciers.

Ponce is also taking over our Instagram from today to Monday, where she shares more images from with her prize-winning series Guardians of the GlaciersFollow the takeover here

© Angela Ponce 

What inspired you to be a photographer?

I wanted to tell stories about what had happened around me during my adolescence. I wanted to represent them in some way and I found that photography was an important resource to speak without words.

What are your creative influences?

My biggest creative influence is everyday life: the music I listen to, the books I read, and the people I interact with. When I develop a project, situations become experiences that greatly influence the outcome of my project.

You’re a documentary photographer and a photojournalist. How do you approach finding the subjects for your projects?

I started in photography as a photojournalist, working for a local newspaper in Lima when I was 20 years old. I consider that to be my greatest photographic school because I learned to be quick and, above all, to anticipate situations. At the same time, I started to develop long-term documentary projects, which was the opposite of my daily breaking news work. This made me find a balance between the speed of the press. The subjects I follow often come to me in different ways, through research or because I meet people with unique stories, but to follow them I have to find some kind of personal connection.

What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever received about photography?

I have received many tips on photography, perhaps the one I apply almost daily is one given to me by James Estrin, a good friend and long-time photographer for The New York Times. I was nervous when I had my first assignment for them and told him I was overthinking how to approach the story I had been assigned to, he said, "Get away from the subject, then get closer. Always try different angles and above all be yourself."

What current projects are you working on?

Since 2021 I have been working on my long-term project Guardians of the Glaciers, which is about the world's largest tropical flat glacier located in Peru that is rapidly retreating due to climate change. This year I am developing the third and final chapter, which focuses on migration as a consequence of global warming in Andean communities.

You have won the Latin America Professional Award this year and have been shortlisted a number of times in the Sony World Photography Awards. What kind of influence have the awards had on your career? 

Undoubtedly the Awards help a lot to give greater visibility to the work, it is important because it means a wider audience can know the story and also what is behind it. I am very happy with the recognition I have received from the Sony World Photography Awards, I consider that there is an impact on my career after success in two consecutive years. 

What advice would you give to people entering their images into the Sony World Photography Awards?

I'd like to encourage female photographers to participate in the Sony World Photography Awards, we have to win more in important competitions like this and show that what we are doing is so good and important. Sometimes out of fear, shame or doubts about our potential, we don't apply. We are all afraid to fail, but the real failure is the one that out of fear we don't even try.

What do you hope to achieve through your photography?

It would be very dreamy to think that a photograph can change the world, the role of the image is to transmit, to create a document as proof that some event was present at a certain time. However, I've also had responses from some kind of help or solution for the people I've photographed, but unfortunately, this does not always happen. 

Follow Angela Ponce's Instagram here.

View her portfolio here