Morena Joachin is a warrior. The 35-year-old discovered early in life that she was born to break boundaries when she fell in love with photojournalism and visual storytelling — a rather unconventional career path in Guatemala, particularly for women.
“It was like I was breaking all of the rules,” Morena said. “I was doing something different.”
Morena, who is from Guatemala City, has spent the past couple of years traveling throughout Guatemala — mostly the north, in the country’s jungles and forests — as well as in Honduras and Mexico, specifically in Chiapas. She was pursuing her own projects, working on production teams as part of film crews and even served as a fixer for the IWMF. Upon returning to Guatemala, Morena wanted to decompress and unwind, so she moved to Antigua, famous for the volcanic peaks that encircle the town. “I wanted to take an easier lifestyle and get out of crowded Guatemala City.”
Antigua is also where, when she was first starting out, Morena found her mentor: “a French gringo” photographer who taught her how to develop film and how to roam the streets, studying people and the scenes surrounding her. Through photography, Morena understood the power of immortalizing a single moment, and that by channeling her curiosity, imagination and world view into an image, she could engage or challenge people’s perceptions on society.
Her work, much of which is documentary photography with experience in film, focuses on environmental justice and environmental conflicts, highlighting people and indigenous communities fighting for their land and natural resources. “I feel like my camera is like a weapon, not only to defend people, but to show others something that is not easy to see in everyday life.”
Morena’s journey as a documentary photographer and visual storyteller in Guatemala and in Central America hasn’t been easy. There are few opportunities for people growing up in countries like hers, she says, and women are faced with greater challenges than their male colleagues. But Morena, a capoeira fighter, keeps pushing.
“I would like to be a staff photographer at an agency and focus on covering the world in heavy situations because, in some parts of my mind, I feel like a warrior,” she said.
Alexandra Petri, 2019 Adelante Honduras fellow