Miami photojournalist Al Diaz doesn’t wait to be handed an assignment—he never stops shooting. He wakes up each morning raring to tackle the waiting-to-be-photographed world. From the US invasion of Panama, the coup attempt of Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez to the devastation of Hurricane Andrew and the deadly earthquake in Haiti, he has had his boots on the ground. From President Reagan on through to President Obama, he’s captured them all.
His photo of the Miami Heat’s glitzy launch of their “Dream Team” players—Dwyane Wade, LeBron James, Chris Bosh—spoke to the essence of that NBA-on-steroids moment and landed on the front page of the New York Times. He has also photographed Super Bowl's, the NCCA Bowl games, the World Series, the NBA Finals, and the Olympic Games in Athens Greece. His sense of timing and eye for the revealing shot have also personified the likes of Madonna, Paul McCartney, OJ Simpson, Britney Spears, Penelope Cruz, Suh Ndamukong, Alex Rodriguez, and Tim Tebow.
Although perfectly at ease shooting bold face names and superstar athletes, Diaz’s visual journalism is at its most poignant when he’s capturing the “common” man and woman. His tender portraits of the homeless, the hungry, and the disenfranchised in Florida won him a Robert F. Kennedy Journalism Award. This year Diaz has been presented the Humanitarian Award by the National Press Photographers Association and the Associated Press Media Editors Showcase Photo of the Year.
A staff photographer for the Miami Herald since 1983, Diaz has shared numerous awards with his colleagues as a member of the Miami Herald news team that won the Pulitzer Prize Public Service Gold Medal for the newspaper's coverage of Hurricane Andrew and team member that won the McClatchy President's Award for Journalism Excellence for coverage of the devastating earthquake in Haiti.
In 1994 Diaz travelled to Cuba for the Miami Herald to shoot the massive exodus taking place from the island. His compelling documentary series vividly captured the frenzy of that turbulent time, and was later turned into “Balsersos—a Desperate Journey, an exhibit at the History Miami Museum. That exodus led to the US Government’s adoption of its “wet-foot, dry-foot” immigration policy for Cuban refugees.
Diaz has contributed photos to several books including A Day in the Life of the US Military, which later became an exhibit at Arlington National Cemetery; and Americanos, a major Latino culture in America project spearheaded by actor Edward James Olmos that was also an HBO documentary film as well as an exhibit at the Smithsonian Institution. His latest, A Ring for The Kings, of the Miami Heat 2011-12 NBA Champions.
In 2011, Diaz found himself the focus of his own work. While photographing a taco vendor for a Miami Herald food story, a thief on rollerblades snatched his camera and sped off. A frantic chase ensued, ending up with Diaz capturing an image—with his second camera—of the thief being hauled off in a police car. “I never thought photographing a food vendor would be a dangerous affair,” Diaz told reporters. A graduate of the University of Florida, Diaz lives in Coral GablesContact: 305-796-4377 / email@example.com