While not featuring on prestigious lists including BBC’s 100 Women of the World 2015, 30 Under 30 Women Photographers 2016, Forbes 30 under 30 Asia 2016, Award-winning Filipino street and documentary photographer, Xyza Cruz Bacani is busy raising awareness about labour migration and human rights through her work. To add to her growing list of achievements the photographer has authored a book titled, ‘We Are Like Air.’ We caught up with this dynamic personality who was invited as a speaker at the recently concluded Mountain Echoes Literary Festival in Bhutan. By Amitha Ameen
1. How important do you think a festival like Mountain Echoes is for today’s youth?
Festivals like Mountain Echoes is important for today’s youth, as it is inspiring to have a platform where they can relate to speakers and be well represented, especially people of colour. It’s also important for them to see that there is hope in the world and to find those hopes despite all the noise of today.
2. Is this your first time to Bhutan?
Yes! I have always been fascinated with Bhutan.
3. What inspired you to pick up the camera?
My mother. We have a very long and complex relationship with Hong Kong and I became her eye in the city that she calls home for more than two decades.
4. You are known for your black-and-white photography. What about it allures you?
I like how it focuses on the emotional aspect of the frame. It’s a personal preference.
5. If you had to give three tips to budding photographers, what would they be?
Always bring a camera, read and consume different mediums of art. Find your voice, be a witness and a platform for others.
6. You wrote We Are Like Air. How was that experience?
We Are Like Air is the story of my mother Georgia and other migrant mothers. It’s a celebration of migrant women as champions, not just victims. Writing didn’t come to me naturally and it was a great experience with vulnerability. It was a very emotional process and, in the end, cathartic.
7. What’s your favourite photography experience?
My favourite part of photography is going to different places, witnessing different lives and meeting wonderful people.
8. What is your favourite place to travel to?
I love Japan. It’s very zen and I enjoy their culture.
9. What kind of traveller are you?
I’m a one-small-luggage kind of traveller. I carry a lot of photography gears. My life can be measured by one small luggage plus my gears.
10. What are the three things you never travel without?
I always travel with a headset, a medicine kit and a book.