Photographer finds passion, work presented at VPAM

ADMIRATION—Photographer Rafael Cardenas shows off his work that is currently displayed in the Vincent Price Art Museum. CN/Eddie Mike Garcia

By Eddie Mike Garcia

Some persons land that great job early in life, while others take more time to find that rewarding career, just like Rafael Cardenas did for himself.

Cardenas worked several jobs over many years before he found his passion in photography. He  currently has an exhibit of photographs at the Vincent Price Museum for the next  three months.

Cardenas was born in Mexico in the 1970s and came with his family to the United States when he was just four years old.

He was raised in East Los Angeles and attended Belvedere Middle School.

Ironically, he said, he attended Garfield and Roosevelt high         schools, both being rivals of each other.

“I am all East Side,” Cardenas said.

Cardenas was part of the first graduating class at the East Los Angeles Skill Center in 1989 and attended East Los Angeles College afterwards.

There, he found a theater class to his liking.

He said it was called the Little Theater, which was in the very spot where the Vincent Price Art Museum stands today.

For about 20 years, he was employed as a paralegal, worked in a doctor’s office and held several jobs in between.

He decided to make a career change because of the inconsistent pattern.

“I’m tired of working for someone else, it’s time that I work for myself,” Cardenas said.

He said that growing up in the East side all of his life gave him a foundation and passion to shoot photos of people in the various neighborhoods.

Cardenas was interested in capturing the images of everyday life in the very community of which he is a part of.

He said that this proved to be a great opportunity for him to expand his creative skills and talents through photography.    

Cardenas landed a job writing stories for a downtown L.A. magazine.

Inspired to do more, he went back to ELAC to take a journalism class to enhance his skills.

It did not take long for Cardenas to learn about and create a blog that shows his black and white photos.

He said that it was important to take at least one picture a day, to be consistent and to perfect his craft.

The result of his hard work, led him to display his photographs in the various social clubs of the community.

Some of Cardenas’ photographs that have been exhibited in the local social clubs of Boyle Heights are “Eastside Luv” and “Espacio 1839.”

“This will be Cardenas’ first solo exhibit here at ELAC. Cardenas and 40 other photographers displayed various prints at a group exhibit at the VPAM in 2016,” said the director of the VPAM Pilar Tompkins Rivas.

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