Pilsen photographer captures images, stories of group most affected by COVID-19: essential workers

ByYukare Nakayama WLS logo
Tuesday, July 28, 2020
Pilsen photographer helps tell stories of essential workers during pandemic
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Pilsen photographer Mateo Zapata has been capturing the lives of essential workers during the COVID-19 pandemic to help tell their stories.

CHICAGO,IL (WLS) -- A picture is truly worth a thousand words for Pilsen photographer who has been capturing the lives of essential workers since the pandemic started.

"As a person of color, as a Latino from the south side of Chicago, I feel like there is a lot of moments that need to be captured by us that are about us," said Mateo Zapata, a freelance photographer from Pilsen.

It all started when Zapata noticed how many people in his community were being affected by the COVID-19 virus. That's when he started a project that would highlight the stories of essential workers, a group of people who have felt the brunt of the pandemic.

Zapata said he was just a child when he first picked up a camera, and said he's been documenting what's been happening in his community for as long as it became his profession.

Zapata said he felt like his community had been left behind during COVID-19, whether they were essential workers, or marching the streets for justice.

"It just immediately felt like it was something I had to capture and I had to document because this is history. It's something that we're living through that is going to impact like what tomorrow looks like," said Zapata.

The freelance photographer is currently working on a documentary called "Los Essentials," where he's compiled stories of essential workers during COVID-19.

He said this is his way of showing the people he cares about, that they matter.