Alejandra Rajal, a fierce photojournalist from Puebla, Mexico, with an eye for detail and an infectious sense of humor, didn’t always know she wanted to be a journalist. Even a few months ago, she confesses she might not have considered herself a journalist per se. She studied advertising and design in university, where in her third year she bought her first camera — love at first sight, as she describes it.
“Life has a way of showing you,” she says. “I just needed something to happen to me and people to tell me that what I was doing was more profound and important than I thought it would be.”
Profound indeed. Ramirez’s striking work has appeared in international publications like National Geographic, NPR, and the Financial Times. Over her career, she has gone back to her hometown roots to document one of the largest holy week pilgrimages in Latin America. She has deftly illustrated the trauma and sorrow of a family seeking answers after the disappearance of a Mexican schoolteacher. And Rajal is currently working on a project exploring the marijuana legalization movement in Mexico.
Rajal is most interested in covering sociological topics. “I like to understand why people think do and feel the way they feel,” she says. “I try to understand the reasons behind people so i can portray properly their world. At the end of the day there are so many realities, there’s no one way to see the world.”
She was first attracted to the Adelante fellowship because, as a self-proclaimed late bloomer she wanted to meet fellow female photojournalists whose work and growth she’d followed over the years. She also saw it as an opportunity to realize her potential.
“They give us so much access to resources so we can do a better job and that also gives you an idea of what you can do if you get to have those resources in the future.”
For Rajal, a career in photojournalism has already achieved unforeseen dreams.
“Photography has allowed me to break a lot of walls that thought were impossible: speaking another language traveling to other countries meeting people who come from other cultures.”
“I love the idea of being able to work with people around the world and collaborate,” she adds. And having been on of those collaborators myself, they are lucky to be in her company. Rajal’s positivity, insightfulness, and willingness to laugh when the going gets rough has made her the ideal partner in this shared experience.
Adelante Fellow 2020