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The Portrait Project

If a picture is worth a thousand words in our generation, imagine what it will be worth to future generations? An ongoing mission of cultural celebration and preservation. Lauren has provided over 300 physical prints to individuals and families who do not have the resources to obtain printed photographs of their loved ones in rural regions of Nicaragua and Guatemala.


When I'm asked to recall my favorite travel moment, this story comes to mind. Lucia and I found ourselves on the same water taxi one errand-running afternoon on the shores of Lake Atitlán, Guatemala. She carried a bouquet of freshly picked wildflowers in one hand and a weathered wooden cane in the other. 

It is rare to see an elderly woman traveling unaccompanied in this region. I felt compelled to photograph her. When I asked to take her portrait, her eyes lit up accompanied with an enthusiastic yes. I only snapped a few frames, but knew this moment and this woman were something special.

The next two months were spent tracking down Lucia to gift her this portrait--and it took a village After detective work (neighbor of a neighbor of a friend of a friend, etc.) I got in touch with Lucia's grandson, who arranged an afternoon visit to her home in a village that, as it turns out, was only twenty minutes down the road.

Presenting Lucia with her framed photo was a moment time stood still. She held the frame gingerly between weathered fingertips, and beamed down wordlessly at her image. I later found out it was the first time Lucia had ever seen a photo of herself in color, and it is the only photo she's ever owned.

Lucia asked her grandson to hang the photo in her bedroom, between her bed and religious alter. "Now I can look at it when I go to sleep, wake up, and when I pray," she said--still beaming. To this day, Lucia's portrait is the image I am most proud of. Yes, the saying goes that a picture is worth a thousand words. But even more powerful than a picture itself, are the speechless moments of connection that transcend words entirely.