José Galvez, native Tucsonan, began his photography career at the early age of 10 as a shoeshine boy at the local paper. Soon he was lugging the camera bags of a photographer there. Inspired, Galvez went on to major in journalism at the University of Arizona and upon graduation became a staff photographer for the Arizona Daily Star.
Perhaps because his family didn’t own a camera when he was young, José focused his lens on the barrio and Mexican American culture. He had his first professional exhibition when he was 22 years old.
His assignments for the Star and then the Los Angeles Times led him to photograph many different things, but his heart (and often his extra camera) was always centered on capturing the Latino experience wherever he was. In 1984, he led a photography staff that along with a team of reporters won a Pulitzer Prize for a series on the Mexican American experience in Los Angeles. Cinco Puntos Press published Vatos, a moving union of José Galvez’ photographs and the poem titled “Vatos, Hymn to Vatos Who Will Never Be In a Poem” by Luis Alberto Urrea. This book won the YALSA Quick Pick for Reluctant Young Adult Readers award in 2002.
Today José lives in Durham, North Carolina, and is actively expanding his body of work to include the new emigrate population in the South. He seeks grant opportunities and also works with many of the leading Latino organizations to photograph their meetings.
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