THE L.A. YOU

DON'T SEE

On a shoot covering the Fabrics District of Los Angeles, I found myself taking pictures of the people that made up Downtown L.A.

Paparazzi will not show you this.

This is the Los Angeles you don't see.

"I first came to America with my wife Isabella and two teenage kids. I had spent all my savings to pay the illegal immigration agent. I had no job, no work permits - we lived on the streets.
3 days after we arrived, my wife announced that she was marrying an American. My two kids sided with her. They called me a loser that did not know how to live life in America. I was in shock. I couldn't believe that this was my family. I had just spent everything I had on them, and now I was left all alone in this country. I couldn't even speak English.
A few weeks later, I found out that my wife and kids had planned to abandon me for the previous 2 years. They were only waiting for me to take them across the border into America. I found this through a common friend of ours.
He was an ice-cream seller. His business wasn't doing well and he was planning to sell his ice-cream cart. I offered to buy it from him, but I had no money. He said I could pay him a little every month. I agreed.
Now I had this ice-cream cart. This was my only way of earning money. More importantly, this was my way of reclaiming and rebuilding my life.
I knew I had to do something special with it. Something that will get me noticed.
I covered the cart with stickers. Anything interesting I could find. Downtown LA is a heaven for appliques, stickers and other decorative items. I would exchange an ice-cream for a sticker, until I had no more space on my ice-cream cart. For some reason, it felt therapeutic to me. My ice-cream cart was my pride. It looked good. I felt good. Business started growing.
I got braver and happier. I made myself this golden jacket. Now I am the Golden Hermano of Downtown Los Angeles. I am an angel to the kids, an uncle to the teens and a father to the young men that are making a living on the streets. I help anyone that is in need. I don't judge anyone. I help even those that people shoo away and call crazy.
We don't know what anyone is going through. Instead of being hostile to them, I choose to be kind.
It's easier, you know."