Manuel Ortiz Escámez

His recent books Sociology: Documentary photography and video as instruments for the construction and dissemination of knowledge in Social Sciences and Sociology with Audiovisual Media both enhance the theory and practice of visual methodologies and contribute valuable insights into participatory approaches, visual representation, and analysis.

During the last 10 years Manuel Ortiz has made several trips to Colombia to investigate and document in an audiovisual way processes of forced migration, peace strategies and community resistance. On his most recent trip, Ortiz produced a multimedia work for the human rights organization Global Exchange on the alleged human rights violations of the young people who participated in the National Strike between April and July 2021.

The committee was impressed by Manuel’s extraordinary range of work in multiple contexts: as a photojournalist, and through teaching, collaboration and program development. He brings a clearly sociological imagination to his journalistic writings and photography, using photographs and words to connect individual lives, struggles, stories and experiences to broad and historically significant social structural issues.


Manuel Ortiz Escámez

Bogotá resident Dilan Yesid Suárez, 21, says Colombia’s national police deliberately targeted his eye with non-lethal rubber bullets during protests in June that swept across Colombia.

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“Esmad rapist.” Murals like this denouncing Colombia’s national police force cover sidewalks and buildings throughout Cali, where protests against long-standing social inequities first began on April 28.

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Sandra Moreno’s son, Santiago Moreno (23 years-old), was killed during protests in Cali May 1. “He wanted to go into the army, but he told me that as a black man he would never be able to rise in the ranks.”

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“In Cali we don’t sleep, the bullets take away our dreams.”


  • Give us adequate images. We lack adequate images. Our civilization does not have adequate images. And I think a civilization is doomed or is going to die out like dinosaurs if it doesn’t develop an adequate language for adequate images.

    Werner Herzog


    One advantage of photography is that it’s visual and can transcend language.

    Lisa Kristine


    The function of sociology, as of every science, is to reveal that which is hidden.

    Pierre Bourdieu


    There are dignified stupidities, and there are heroic stupidities, and there is such a thing as stupid stupidities, and that would be a stupid stupidity not to have a camera on board.

    Werner Herzog


    The task for sociology is to come to the help of the individual. We have to be in service of freedom. It is something we have lost sight of.

    Zygmunt Bauman

  • Watching a documentary with people hacking their way through some polar wasteland is merely a visual. Actually trying to deal with cold that can literally kill you is quite a different thing.

    Henry Rollins

  • Before I became a film major, I was very heavily into social science, I had done a lot of sociology, anthropology, and I was playing in what I call social psychology, which is sort of an offshoot of anthropology/sociology – looking at a culture as a living organism, why it does what it does.

    George Lucas

  • Photographers learn to interpret photographs in that technical way because they want to understand and use that ‘language’ themselves (just as musicians learn a more technical musical language than the layman needs). Social scientists who want to work with visual materials will have to learn to approach them in this more studious and time-consuming way

    Howard Becker

  • We never really know what’s around the corner when we’re filming – what turn a story will take, what a character will do or say to surprise us, how the events in the world will impact our story.

    Barbara Kopple

  • You try your hardest to give people their space, but at moments you know you’re capturing their image in ways they may or may not be okay with. It’s that rocking back and forth between respect and betrayal that I feel like is at the heart of the film.

    Kirsten Johnson


    Every photograph promises more than it delivers and delivers more than it intended.

    Steve Harp

  • If you want to tell the untold stories, if you want to give voice to the voiceless, you’ve got to find a language. Which goes for film as well as prose, for documentary as well as autobiography. Use the wrong language, and you’re dumb and blind.

    Salman Rushdie


    Visual culture is now the study of how to understand change in a world too enormous to see but vital to imagine.

    Nicholas Mirzoeff


    If it’s far away, it’s news, but if it’s close at home, it’s sociology.

    James Reston

  • So it is my firm belief, that if you want nowadays, to have a clear and distinct communication of your concepts, you have to use synthetic images, no longer words.

    Vilém Flusser


    For any picture, ask yourself what question or questions it might be answering. Since the picture could answer many, questions, we can decide what question we are interested in.

    Howard Becker


    Sometimes one picture is equal to 30 pages of discourse, just as there are things images are completely incapable of communicating.

    William S. Burroughs


    Reality changes; in order to represent it, modes of representation must change.

    Bertolt Brecht

  • I believe that we face incredible obstacles in our attempts to see the world. Everything in our nature tries to deny the world around us; to refabricate it in our own image; to reinvent it for our own benefit. And so, it becomes something of a challenge, a task, to recover (or at least attempt to recover) the real world despite all the impediments to that end.

    Errol Morris


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