- A short biography in English:
Lia Valero is an award-winning Colombian reporter and photographer. As part of her professional experience, Lia has documented different issues of human rights, gender, memory and conflict in Bogotá and various regions of Colombia, where she has used during the last 3 years audiovisual work and photography as part of her journalistic journey. In 2020, she was a Google News Initiative fellow in the Poynter Institute and since 2013 has been part of Chicas Poderosas, a global community that promotes change by inspiring and fostering the development of women in the media. Her work has been published in national & international media such as Mutante.org, Rutas del Conflicto, De Correspondent, VICE, among others.
- A link to your website and social media handles: liavalero.visura.co
- Letter of motivation
As a journalist and photographer in constant development, I have sought to work on projects with a particular interest in women and since this year I’ve focused my attention on their relationship with the environment. I am currently starting a photographic project about women defenders of the environment and natural resources who are at existential risk in Colombia, for preventing the illegal destruction of the environment, and the importance of their struggles for climate change in the second most biodiverse country in the world. There are no in-depth visual works on this subject so far and my objective is to draw attention to the urgency of protecting the lives of those who defend life. Women suffer from the disproportionate consequences of violence, not only in their communities and territories, but also in their physical territory: their body. This project in addition to showing the implications of immense environmental conflicts – massive exploitation of oil wells; large-scale gold mining; contamination of water sources – for these women and their territories, will also show how they defend the environment with their body and their own life.
As part of my creative approach I will project images of elements of nature and resources these women protect onto their bodies, to reflect on one particular idea: when the place we inhabit is violated and exploited, our body is too. The body-territory also becomes a place of resistance, in the most dangerous country in the world for those who defend the earth.
This leads me to apply for this unique opportunity, focused on the Climate change topic. My project already has funding from Grid Arendal (https://www.grida.no/news/21) and a 4-month work plan to be carried out. However, I want to take it beyond a publication and achieve the best version of it to amplify its impact. I want to be part of The International Environmental Photography Lab to have a long term accompaniment of photographers and editors with expertise in environmental topics. The idea of working with a multidisciplinary storyteller perspective, from a collaborative, more horizontal and empowering work dynamic stands out to me. It is also an opportunity to expand the possibilities of using photography to explore our comprehension of reality and to amplify the scope of my work as an early-career photojournalist.
At this moment in my career I’m looking for mentors who can help accelerate my growth, sharing advice to gain professional development skills in visual storytelling, deepen my industry knowledge and who can ignite meaningful connections. Someone who guides and helps me to prepare for the best possible career path in documentary photography for local stories with a gender and/or environmental perspective. I understand the mentor relationship is not built on giving me a solution or saying what I have to do, but helps me to clarify the key issues or identify the right path or method to develop my photography projects. To get this opportunity would mean a lot to me.
Besides that I will be able to contribute a different perspective, from a female Colombian context, Photographers that narrate their documentary works from a gender perspective are still underrepresented in achieving international visibility. I want to keep learning to break that glass ceiling. As the feminist and evironmental movements are global phenomens of our time I feel the importance for an international exchange of perspectives and storys. The International Environmental Photography Lab would be the next logical step and a very special opportunity for me to get me where I want to go and fulfill my goals and visions.