In April 2019 I was contacted by Leah Bishop, Community Engagement Coordinator for the Florence Project, a non-profit organization in Arizona. She had been looking for a commercial portrait photographer in Florida and had come across my images on the Streets of Paradise website. She thought I’d be ideal for an assignment they had locally. The Florence Project provides pre-bono legal advice services for refugees asylum seekers in detention to assist them in their legal efforts to remain in the country . They are denied access to any kind of legal aid or other services in the US and are forced to navigate the complex issues surrounding the adjudication of their cases with no resources, and often with limited or no english language skills. Such had been the case with Beto and Jesue, asylum seekers from Cuba. They had been persecuted for their sexual orientation and had managed to navigate a tortuous multi-nation journey to the US border. Their story of their remarkable effort to remain together in the US is documented here on the Florence Project website.
Following their successful asylum bid, they relocated to Sarasota and I was contracted to shoot them for the Florence Project website. They turned out to be a handsome and gentle natured couple who were obviously grateful and relieved to be safe and with one another. They face challenges ahead. Their professional credentials (nurse and economist) may not be recognized here, and neither speak english (which made the shoot interesting as my spanish begins and ends with ‘hola’), but we managed. They were awesome subjects, totally comfortable in front of the camera and needing only minimal direction. They immediately did what I asked (mimed) and wrapped their arms around each other for the shoot. They weren’t the least bit shy about showing physical affection and their comfort with each other comes through in the images. It was a great shoot for a great cause. I was proud to be involved.