Inspiration & Philosophy


Inspiration & Philosophy

Can the impact of images fuel the discourse needed to engender a better life for countless millions living around the world? 

Offering rare private views of poverty colored by his own personal experiences growing up poor in the corrugated-tin shantytowns of southern Puerto Rico, Manuel Rivera-Ortiz’ photographic stories of hardship and hope in some of the world’s poorest nations serve as the inspiration for the foundation. 

With the conviction that images, still and moving, can indeed shine a light on ignored, forgotten communities and offer a beacon of hope, the Manuel Rivera-Ortiz Foundation for Documentary Photography and Film was established with a set of guiding values that enjoin photographers and their own personal experiences with the plight of the populations and environments on which they focus their lenses. 

Real Life Stories - Photojournalism emanating from a photographers’ own life experience is amazing to see. This ideal extends to photographers still living in the situations they photograph, or whose life story encompasses firsthand experiences that fuel their photographs. Filtered through such life-lenses, this personal approach can be heart wrenching, shocking and yet monumental. 

The foundation was inspired by this personal approach to photography and launched to encourage important work by photographers and film makers around the globe whose strong conviction and personal narrative bring to us images of emotion and human compassion. 

A Level Playing Field - Humanity has benefitted greatly from the steady breakthroughs made in the fields of medicine and science. But even with these in-roads, vast populations of poor remain living in sub-standard housing, lack any medical treatment and suffer famine, death from preventable or manageable illnesses, war and genocide. Global economic catastrophes such as the most recent erased decade-long achievements made against world poverty. 

The foundation aims to support the work done throughout the world by emerging and underrepresented photographers whose compassion and determination against all odds is targeted toward the betterment of humanity. From HIV/AIDS, to the story of refugees, of street children, and of life celebrated despite adversity; these are the stories we seek.   

A Catalyst for Change - Humanitarian photography and film making holds the power to make a difference, taking the message of hope and human suffering beyond momentary, intellectual curiosity or fleeting headlines. 

When publicized in the media, these images can act as a catalyst for greater international involvement and positive governmental change. 

With these core values, we call upon photographers and film makers to follow their passion and share their work so that together we ensure that these human stories are seen far and wide.