“AIDS began to spread in Cuba and I was asked to document the disease and the patients. At the time, AIDS was unheard of and people refused to believe it. My photos changed that, making AIDS a reality and capturing the lives of those suffering from the disease. I was blown away by how a photograph can make such an impact, so I wanted to do more. I began taking pictures of those with special needs. For three years, I established friendships with people with autism and down syndrome, documenting their lives through my lens. The gallery of photos was named, ‘To be Different is Something Common’ and it won an award in London. The photos went beyond their condition and pictured something that is rarely seen – their joyful spirits. The gallery elicited understanding and acceptance rather than sympathy and encouraged the community to move past our differences and unite as human beings. Not only was I a photographer, but also a professor in Cuba and Columbia. I taught beyond the textbooks and emphasized the art of photography, encouraging my students to follow their passions as I have. Years later, in 2015, my family and I moved to America due to my wife’s health conditions. Currently, I work at the Epicurean Hotel, Autograph Collection, who supports my passion, while I practice my English so I can continue doing what I love – teaching the art of photography.” Photos provided by Emilio.