El Paletero - Street Cart Vendor - Santa Ana, CA

Meet Isidro, he works in the heart of Santa Ana with his street cart full of goodies. He is originally from Guerrero, Mexico. He sells Paletas and all sorts of snacks. He was tough to shoot since he was constantly moving but he did give me a minute to capture a few beautiful shots at sundown. Look for Isidro if you are ever around Sycamore and Bishop in Santa Ana.  If you see him maybe you could stop by and purchase a popsicle from him, he would appreciate it.   #respectimmigrants #workethic #bekind

OC Weekly Cover Story - They Pick What You Eat

I started my immigrant photography project as a response to the negative statements made by then-presidential candidate Donald Trump about Mexicans. I was so upset to hear him make such hateful comments that I wanted to do something about it.

Both of my parents are immigrants from Mexico. I grew up working alongside many Mexican immigrants in the families business. Working in the hospitality industry at a young age gave me a unique perspective: They are often discriminated against, disrespected and very much under-appreciated. So I started taking photos.

My original idea with this project was to send a political message without attacking anyone. I chose to take this approach to increase the reach of my message. I do believe this has worked, and I am happy to hear positive feedback from my photos and posts.

Then Charlottesville happened, followed by an anti-immigration rally in Laguna Beach. These hate groups made me realize that my project was even more important than I had first imagined.

My goal is to open some eyes. My hope is that when people see my photographs, they might be inspired to leave an extra-nice tip on their pillow for Guadalupe in housekeeping; say, "¡Gracias!" to Jose, who is cleaning their table or Felipe in the kitchen, making their food; or to simply smile at Graciela, who is sweeping the floors at John Wayne Airport. It's empathy—and the world could use more of it right now.

- Javier Castellanos


View the photo essay at OC Weekly