It was Michael Sibilia’s first time out of the United States when he shot his series La Luz Reflejos de Semana Santa en Suchitoto. During the month of April in 2009, Sibilia visited the town of Suchitoto in El Salvador where he spent his nights diligently shooting Easter week celebrations and ceremonies. Able to compensate for various light sources and color temperatures, Sibilia showcases his skill as a photographer and artist.
I never look for an image, they usually find me.
Throughout the series, Sibilia tells the viewer what to focus on by using light to illuminate both objects and people. With creativity on his side, Sibilia trusts his instincts and goes wherever his eyes command: diagnosed with Attention Deficit Disorder, he spontaneously shoots whatever catches his eye at the moment. These “distractions”, as he calls them, are a strength, and inevitably allow him as well as us viewers, to become a part of the celebration. As a result, he is able to connect with his viewers; inviting them to see what he sees, experience what he experiences.
In his image Jueves Santo (below), Sibilia captures a statue of Jesus lit from the light bulb above as it is prepared for the Holy Thursday festivities. The people of Suchitoto sit around the statue, appreciating its beauty and acknowledging it as “holy.” Coincidentally, Sibilia used a photographic technique known as the “Hail Mary” for this image, a difficult shot to pull off. Deriving from the “Hail Mary” pass in football (a long, forward pass made out of desperation), a Hail Mary photograph is one you shoot with the camera stretched away from your body, usually up high, either because you are blocked from the normal approach or the angle desired is higher up than eye-level. Regardless of why he decided to use this method, Sibilia was able to successfully make the shot shine.
Since 2009, Sibilia has gone back to El Salvador multiple times. It became apparent during his first trip that the future of the country is in the youth, and so he took it upon himself to return and work with the children, teaching them any skills he was able to offer. The love, passion, and optimism found in each photograph proves that there is, indeed, light at the end of every tunnel.
To see more of Michael Sibilia’s work, please visit www.michaelsibilia.com.
This is a brand new monthly Members Highlight blog feature, where we interview and share what some of our En Foco members have been creating. To learn more about En Foco’s memberships and how to join, please click here.