author on a pier with Lake Atitlan in Guatemala behind him
author on a pier with Lake Atitlan in Guatemala behind him

I am a professional photographer with a background in theatrical filmmaking (horror films mostly) and digital media for both profit and non-profit organizations. I’ve been doing these things as well as private tutoring for about 30 years now.

I’ve been writing for Medium since December 2020, and I am really enjoying it. I try to put stuff up once a week based on my own experience as a photographer, filmmaker, or frequent visitor to Guatemala. I also try to add historical context and esthetic appreciation of photography whenever it’s appropriate in both of my publications here.

The audience for PHOTO


The lines between the good guys and the bad guys are human beings

“Executions? Yes, we have executed. We execute, and we’ll continue to execute.”
— Che Guevara

Portrait of Domingo Gonzales, survivor of the Guatemalan Civil War
Portrait of Domingo Gonzales, survivor of the Guatemalan Civil War
Domingo Gonzales — portrait by R.Quezada-Dardon

On my last day in San Cristobal, I stopped by the NGO to say goodbye to my friend, Rudy, but I was early, and he’d not yet arrived. Rudy’s father was there, though, working on his dump truck, and I introduced myself. We spoke of life in this Guatemalan highland state of Alta Verapaz.

Domingo Gonzales speaks and smiles gently. He has an unassuming manner, a weathered face, and the tanned rough hands of an individual that has worked hard all his life. …


a poem

At eighty-one she lived alone
and stayed up late to watch old movies on tv.

Occasionally, after looking out her window, she would leave voicemail for her children asking simply…


“Find a job you enjoy doing, and you will never have to work a day in your life.” — Mark Twain

Man walking down the street, shoulders hunched, on his way to work. His jacket says “Maintenance” across the back.
Man walking down the street, shoulders hunched, on his way to work. His jacket says “Maintenance” across the back.
Night shift — Kearny, NJ

There are parts of Kearny, NJ that consist of noisy, grimy factories and warehouses. The town is not too far from Newark or from New York. Incorporated in 1867, it was named after a Civil War general killed in 1862. It seems that all you see and hear in these parts of Kearny are people on their way to and from their jobs, or actually working. The faces here seem to hold back their smiles and happiness for when they’re home, or for when they are facing people that they know. …


The portraits of Diane Arbus, Phillip-Lorca diCorcia, Katy Grannan, and the Three Fs of working on the street

Photo by R.Quezada-Dardon

The woman leaning in the doorway didn’t ask for money. We just had a friendly conversation while I waited for an Uber. She told me that her name was Juana Maria Gomez Soto and that the doorstep we were standing on was where she slept at night. There don’t seem to be many homeless people in Guatemala City; the government has no patience with their existence, but she was old and, according to her, not a nuisance, so she was let be.

When I asked her what town she was from initially, and she told me, her eyes lit up…


Photographing a stranger’s house during magic hour

A farmhouse caught in the headlights of a car
A farmhouse caught in the headlights of a car
Photo by R.Quezada-Dardon

An angry-looking man who drives an old beat-up truck and has tattoos on his neck lives here. I did not know that until I knocked on his door one afternoon. I go by this house a couple of times a week on my way to my printing studio. Its solitariness at the end of a long driveway is what always gets my attention from the road: a small house sitting at the back of a vast yard with even more acreage behind it.

After a couple of years, it happened that the time of day, season, weather, and, most importantly…


The Passion told with pictures of trees, grass, stone, and water

A ring of trees around a pond covered in lilies could look like people feasting at a dinner table.
A ring of trees around a pond covered in lilies could look like people feasting at a dinner table.
The Last Supper

At one time, this collection of landscapes was meant to be about entropy. Evidence of this process that nature goes through on its way to disorder and dissolution happens continuously everywhere, of course, but it is so obvious in the woods and creeks near where I live.


The craft of photography has made me far more money than the art of photography.

Most people who decide on a career in art that they’ve had their hearts set on since they were very young have naive notions of the profession’s lifestyle and processes based on what it was like in a previous era. Or, if it’s a desire they’ve acquired as adults, it’s a very romanticized assumption of what it’s going to be like.

Film still from the projection booth scene in Orson Welles’s Citizen Kane.
Film still from the projection booth scene in Orson Welles’s Citizen Kane.
Citizen Kane by Orson Welles — Cinematography by Gregg Toland

I went to a film school where each week for three years I watched four or five of the most artistically amazing films ever made from all over the world. Not on DVD, not streaming, but projected on a…


Thoughts on the psychology of posing.

“A photographic portrait is a picture of someone who knows he’s being photographed and what he does with this knowledge is as much a part of the photograph as what he’s wearing or how he looks.” — Richard Avedon.

The author’s mother when she was 20 posing in a bathing suit.
The author’s mother when she was 20 posing in a bathing suit.
Los Aposentos, Guatemala — ca 1948

1.

There is a picture of my mother in a one-piece bathing suit taken a couple of years before she was married. She leans up against the wood post of a barbed wire fence next to a swimming pool. Her lips are colored, I am sure, a deep rich red, but in the monochromatic photographs of those days, they are a…


Second in a series on the Cal family from Altaverapaz

Lucrecia, a young Mayan woman makes a soup next to her wood-burning stove
Lucrecia, a young Mayan woman makes a soup next to her wood-burning stove

Darkness always falls on Altaverapaz around six or six-thirty. It is close enough to the equator that there is hardly any fluctuation all year round with the hour in the evening when this happens, or when the sun begins to tint the sky again exactly 12 hours later. Before that happens, each adjoining room in this three-room, dirt-floor house is lit by a single 60-watt, golden-yellow light bulb hanging from the center of each ceiling. They must be LED, for they wreak havoc on the color sensors in my camera.

This carpenter’s home is sparsely furnished. There is a single…

Roberto Quezada-Dardon

Filmmaker, writer, photographer born in Guatemala, raised in Los Angeles, and now living near Philadelphia. Listed in IMDB and Wikipedia as Roberto A. Quezada

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