Stories by

Ivan Armando Flores

By Jonathan Sarabia

Ivan Armando Flores is a freelance photographer from Miami. His mother arrived in the 1960s from Cuba and his father in the 1970s from Mexico.

Growing up, Ivan was able to connect with his parents’ cultures.

At an early age, he was captivated by cameras after his dad gave him his old film camera as a gift.

“I fell in love with it,” Ivan, 31, said. “But I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do with my camera.”

Nineteen years ago, however, he realized he wanted to be a photographer after seeing the impact of Alan Diaz’s 2000 photo of Elián González, a 6-year-old Cuban immigrant, crying as heavily armed immigration agents seized him in his uncle’s home in Miami.

The incident became an international dispute.

“I wanted to create images that made people talk and stopped them in their tracks,” Ivan said. “Something that they couldn’t look away from.”

Ivan admires the photograph of Elián González for its ability to tell a story in one frame.

He said it captured both power and vulnerability.

“It raised awareness about Cubans and put a human face on migration and what removals look like,” Ivan said. “But it also highlighted that there were no winners. It was either an image that you loved because a father wanted his son back or you hated because the government overreached and Elián should have stayed in Miami with his family.”

Ivan received a bachelor’s degree from Florida International University and recently graduated with a master’s degree from the Craig Newmark Graduate School of Journalism at the City University of New York.

The majority of Ivan’s journalism has revolved around culture and migration.

He is seeking to reveal the next story and provide a voice through his work, so in 2014, Ivan chose to go to Afghanistan.

“When I was starting to plan the trip, all the journalists I talked to told me, ‘Man, you just missed it,’” he said. “I like going to places where people tell me there’s no story because there almost always is a story.”

Gabriella N. Báez/NYT Institute

Naquasia Pollard was only 19 when she was arrested. While serving a 15-year sentence, she earned a bachelor’s degree in sociology. College and Community Fellowship, a nonprofit that helps women with criminal justice histories, is guiding her to a master’s degree.