The Daily Lobo’s outgoing photo editor, Jessica Baca, has always had a passion for photography. So much so that her family would keep disposable cameras out of her hands because she would use them up in minutes. In awe of everything around her, she would shoot anything and everything she could.
Baca is set to graduate from the University of New Mexico with a bachelor’s of Fine Arts in Studio Art with a concentration in photography. During her college career, she said she was often urged to apply to the Lobo, but it wasn't until Film & Digital Arts Professor Roberto Rosales encouraged her that she stumbled upon the newspaper.
She has worked at the Lobo since October 2022 and has served as the photo editor since May 2023. Shortly after, she also began to work for the Albuquerque Journal.
“I (was) fast tracked into being editor. It’s been crazy … then I also (became) an intern at the Albuquerque Journal all within a year,” Baca said. “(Rosales) highly recommended me for the position and I was able to get it through showing my work and interviewing with the photo editor.”
During her time at the Lobo, Baca has covered stories on every desk and received the “Mark Holm Memorial Endowed Scholarship” in May of 2023 – a scholarship created to support aspiring photojournalists at UNM.
Katrina Estrada, the Lobo’s new photo editor, met Baca while they were working as freelance photographers. The two grew closer while working together as editors the following year. Estrada fondly remembers spending Sundays in the design room working on the weekly paper.
“We’d talk about the most random things getting to know each other in the Design room … We're nerds in similar ways, (so) we (would) geek out on things that we had in common separate from photography,” Estrada said.
Although Baca is graduating, she was chosen for the UNM Photo Department’s Annual Undergraduate Juried Exhibition that will take place at the John Sommers Gallery from Jan. 22 until Feb. 9.
“I’m going to miss a lot of the community that I have here at UNM – with the photo department in particular,” Baca said. “Especially coming back after the pandemic ... it felt like I was going back into college all over again, and finding other artists ... was honestly amazing. Having the experiences of the gallery shows and having my art displayed was so surreal.”
Her exhibit is titled “Unjustly Unseen” and centers on just that. It is a project that explores the unknown through the uncomfortable reality of death.
“Finding these (insects and birds) that are just laying dead while people are walking by … When you think about death (regarding) people, we have burials, we mourn them, things go on. (This project) explores these creatures that have existed within my realm – that no one is mourning … It makes you wonder about ‘existing,’” Baca said.
In her artist statement for the exhibit, she discusses these uncomfortable realities.
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“It is with both wonder and fear that I capture these moments … (This exhibit lets) people wade through the unseen, and let them understand that our lives are not the only ones that have meaning in the world,” Baca’s artist statement reads.
A multifaceted artist, Baca enjoys exploring concepts such as death and humanity through her personal photography. Within her professional photography, she focuses on cultural and community events – ones where she is able to be amidst the action.
“She was a really awesome photo editor … (The photographers) all have such different ways of working, and Jessica really learned how they each work. It's so ‘Jessica’ of her. She (cultivated) her time and process to theirs. She was just so considerate,” Estrada said.
Upon graduating, she will continue her internship at the Albuquerque Journal and keep building her portfolio.
Regarding photojournalism, Baca said she encourages any and all people to shoot as much as humanly possible, and to find a community that loves your work as much as you do.
Karina Bolaños is the Culture Editor at the Daily Lobo. They can be contacted at email@example.com