Fellow Since 1997
Instituto profesional Arcos
This profile was prepared when Héctor López was elected to the Ashoka Fellowship in 1997.
The New Idea
A strong believer in the power of the image as an instrument for social change, Héctor has begun to develop a network of "social photographers" in impoverished urban areas in Chile. By providing citizens with free cameras, film, and processing, and by hosting workshops, discussion groups, and exhibitions, Héctor has enabled communities to record their own histories and to communicate them to a broader audience that would otherwise be unaware or apathetic. In so doing, the photographers begin to appreciate the value of their experiences and to become engaged participants in the struggle for social change in Chile. The photographs allow those behind the camera, as well as those viewing the images, to perceive their daily existence with a newfound perspective. The exhibits, in turn, create a new forum for dialogue about issues facing the community, and an opportunity for developing locally-conceived solutions. In addition, Héctor has established an "Image Bank" which serves as a documentation and resource center of social photography. This "Bank"–the first of its kind in Chile–not only preserves the images generated by the project, but also allows citizens to use those images for research, dissemination, and the overall advancement of social photography.