International Photographers in Nicaragua | Richard Leonardi
There is no effective internet guide for photographers in Nicaragua, much less a decent listing of international photographers Nicaragua. I have been working here for 22 years, but have yet to see a sincere attempt at anyone putting together a legit photographers list.
One of the principle reasons is there is probably not that high of a demand for international photographers here. Many companies or periodicals use stock or if they have the budget send their own photographer. Perhaps others don’t expect to find reliable options for freelance photography in Nicaragua.
Obviously, the objective of my site is to suggest otherwise. 90% of the freelance work I have done since moving to Nicaragua in early 1996 has been through my web site. This is no doubt a double-edged sword, since there is always a new photographer who comes to Nicaragua, falls in love with its natural beauty and people and sets up shop. Most of these don’t last, since many underestimates what a life change it is to live in Nicaragua or how hard it is to make it as a freelance photographer.
My hope beyond being considered for the freelance jobs that exist is that potential clients end up with the choice that best suits their needs. I believe my versatility is a strength. It is a quality that does not come by mistake when working as a freelancer photographer in Nicaragua.
The specialization of US and European photographers is not possible here, there is simply not enough work. To be sure I enjoy all kinds of challenges in making arresting images and to be working here is a great pleasure.
The image featured on this page is one such example. Aside from breathing second-hand smoke from my father’s cigars as a child in the backseat on family holiday Banzai road trips from Boston to New York, I really knew nothing of cigars when I came to Nicaragua. Since Nicaragua makes some of the finest cigars in the world, I had to learn fast and now have a pretty extensive understanding of the art and business of cigar making.
I have also had the chance to meet some great characters, like Cuban transplant AJ Fernandez picture on this page. He, like most cigar kings, smokes non-stop and has a great sense of humor. When I shoot for a cigar magazine they tend to dislike shots of smoke coming out of the mouth, but for an advertising shoot I did for AJ I made this shot. It almost appears like studio work, but is really just window light in a rustic tobacco drying shed.
The work ethic of AJ is second to none, so where many cigar smokers associate their passion with downtime, cigar producers like AJ Fernandez are working 24/7 on every aspect of the business, they are really a model of entrepreneurship. Somewhat ironic coming from a country like Cuba, but there is no doubt, given a level playing field, these cigar kings have come to show how capitalism is done to the Nicaraguans.
So many lessons to be learned from the subject one photographs, it makes being one of the select few freelance international photographers in Nicaragua a real privilege.