As a photographer based in San Bernardino, my approach has been deeply influenced by the decline of my city. Born and raised here, I have developed a sense of pride in my roots, but being part of a decaying environment has shaped my perception of stability, which has transcended into a private struggle with depression. As a way to fight against change and mitigate my own negative feelings, I gravitated toward photography as an act of creative self expression.
These images are from a steel plant in San Bernardino where I worked. The first day on the job one of the guys asked me if I identified as a “plantado”, which roughly translates to “rooted”. He wanted to know whether I would be stuck in a dead end job for the coming years. He encouraged me to look for employment elsewhere during my year with the company, and the other employees shared similar opinions. The working conditions weren’t that great, but the workers were loyal to the employer, and had a strong working relationship with each other. I was well liked by the staff and they took an interest in my life, and encouraged me to pursue my academic goals, and to look for better work.
I feel a certain joy in capturing life’s fleeting moments, and picturing memories helps me cope with my personal demons. I desire to capture beautiful and positive moments that I can look back on during moments of weakness.
My desire is to document, and make meaningful photographs with a sense of pride for San Bernardino. This has set me on a track of activism and documentary photography.
Fabian Leon Torres is a documentary photographer and a member of “San Bernardino Generation Now”, a group of young activist working to improve the city.