Shine Heroes

Federico Estol

There are 3000 shoe shiners who go out into the streets of La Paz and El Alto suburbs each day in search of clients. They are from all ages and in recent years have become a social phenomenon in the Bolivian capital. What characterizes this tribe is the use of ski masks so they will not be recognized by those around them. They confront the discrimination they face through these masks; in their neighbourhoods no one knows that they work as shoe shiners, at school they hide this fact, and even their own families believe they have a different job when they head down to the center of the city from El Alto. For three years I have been collaborating with sixty shoe shiners associated with the NGO "Hormigón Armado". We planned together the scenes during a series of graphic novels workshops, incorporating the local elements of the urbanity of El Alto and producing photographic sessions with them as co-authors of a photo essay to fight against their social discrimination.

Artist biography

Uruguayan photographer, graduated from the Image and Multimedia Technology Center of Politechnic University of Cataluña - BarcelonaTech. He is currently working as artistic director of SAN JOSÉ FOTO festival, promoting the Photobook Club Montevideo and as editor of El Ministerio Ediciones publishing house. He has received several awards, grants and scholarships, recently honoured with the Latin American Photobook award by CDF of Montevideo 2014, the IILA Fotografía award in Rome 2016, FELIFA International photobook award 2018, the Cosmos Arles PDF Award and the Winner of the International Photography Award Encontros da Imagem Portugal 2019