Our Home, Our Story

Participatory photography in the coastal Yucatan town of Dzilam de Bravo, Mexico


In March 2023, WWF-US and WWF-Mexico worked with eight16 creative to organize a participatory photography workshop in the coastal Yucatán town of Dzilam de Bravo, Mexico. The goals: to strengthen relationships between WWF and the local community, and to engage them around coastal ecosystems and our ongoing mangrove restoration work. The workshop provided seven participants from Dzilam with cameras, technical support, and a safe space for creating and sharing stories using photography as a means of self-expression and catalyst for community conversations.

“While we already have some relationships with the community here,” says Claudia Duran, a WWF-Mexico field officer who works to support conservation efforts in and around Dzilam, “with this project, we’ve had the chance to see the community from their own perspective, which is so valuable because they have all the local context. The community faces many difficulties, and I was surprised and touched that they also shared their stories with us.”

For WWF, this was a learning experience that will help our teams approach the community more carefully and better integrate their perspective into our work, including projects that will be supported by an upcoming statewide initiative called Yucatán Vive.

Here we share the participants’ views on their community through their own images and words.

WWF, the Yucatán government, and our partners are working together to protect this special place through Yucatán Vive. Employing the Project Finance for Permanence approach, Yucatán Vive aims to increase climate change resiliency, safeguard livelihoods and food security for local communities, secure the freshwater source for over 1.3 million people, and protect critical jaguar habitat.

Gelixtly Palma Participant in pilot program to reintroduce native bees in the mangroves

When I see this picture, it makes me think of the day we were given the camera. My daughter asked me, “Mom, take my picture with my dog because I love him.” That image really captured the love that this little animal brought to my home—he not only keeps us company, but he gives us love. In short, he’s not just a pet; he’s part of the family.

When I talk about my Dzilam de Bravo, I say it’s a port where there is solidarity. It has always been about unity, but above all Dzilam de Bravo is peace; Dzilam de Bravo is home.

Krisleen Salas 8th-grade student at Secundaria Tecnica No. 52

I participated in the workshop thanks to my physics teacher, Leticia Pool. The photos I took mean something beautiful to me, especially sunsets; they don’t have a story, since I took them at the moment when I saw the scenery. To me, the port is a very beautiful place because I have lived here since I was a little girl. It’s a nice, quiet place. And, most of all, it’s a place where the community is quite appreciative of everyone.

Leticia Pool Cutz Science teacher at Secundaria Tecnica No. 52

The picture I took of my nephews touched me because whenever they have the opportunity, they always ask me to take them to Dzilam where they can enjoy nature. This time I had a school activity, and as soon as they saw the swings, they jumped right on them. They swam and enjoyed the sea. Soon after, they saw how the tide came in, and they stayed there for a while to enjoy the beach. They will remember these times for the rest of their lives, and I will have a wonderful memory to take with me, too.

Aldair Gonzaléz Mangrove restoration brigade member

By participating in this workshop, I was able to learn a little more about photography. I like taking photos when the scenery reveals itself, and it’s the right time to do so. The spot in this photo is a place of peace. Being there, listening to the waves and the sea breeze, fills me with a sense of peacefulness. Dzilam de Bravo is my community, and I want to take care of it. Sharing these photos shows us all the environment we want to take care of.

Alejandro Gonzaléz Mangrove restoration brigade member

In this photo (left), you can see how climate change has been affecting our environment, specifically, the devastation caused by Hurricane Isidore in 2002. And it still hasn’t been restored. Many years ago, my late grandfather took my cousin and me to this area to see the migratory birds that came from the north, like the white pelicans. So, it is also sentimental. We have been part of the work that WWF is supporting for conservation of these birds.

Darwin Sosa WWF jaguar conservation ambassador and member of local fishing cooperative Saychaleb

I took that photo (top) of my friend Pole—that’s his nickname—one day at the port when he was about to go free diving. Pole has four children, so he has to go diving every day to support his family. I also took photos of Pole’s son, Kevin. While his dad goes diving, the son spends time in the harbor. The kid doesn’t go to school. He goes to the harbor, where the boats are kept, and he fishes for tilapia and striped mojarra to also contribute to the household’s sustenance. Now, the photo [of Kevin] looks nice, doesn’t it? But the reality is that life here by the sea is tough.

Lupita Nadal Participant in pilot program to reintroduce native bees in the mangroves

This picture reminds me of my childhood. My father used to take us swimming at the beach while he would cast his net to catch something to eat. I was struck by the fact that the sea was completely calm. The sea is a source of life for all species, including ourselves. As port town residents, we are familiar with the sea, but we also have respect for it. It’s a source of income for our families.



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