Danielle Villasana is an independent photojournalist based in Istanbul, Turkey, whose documentary work focuses on women, identity, human rights and health.
Before attending college, Danielle traveled through more than thirty countries in Europe and West Africa, photographing along the way. After meeting a photojournalist in Ghana, she realized that photography combined with discovery, cross-cultural communication and a desire to spread awareness about global issues equates to journalism. In Fall 2013, she graduated from the University of Texas at Austin as a double-major in Photojournalism and Spanish.
In 2015, "A Light Inside," Danielle's long-term project on transgender women in Lima, Peru, won the Magnum Foundation's Inge Morath Award and was recognized by the Pride Photo Award and International Photography Awards contests. She is an alumna of the Eddie Adams Workshop (2013), was selected for the New York Times Portfolio Review (2015) and was nominated for the World Press Joop Swart Masterclass and the Chris Hondros Fund Emerging Photojournalist Award (2016).
In 2014, Danielle co-founded Everyday Latin America on Instagram, which is part of the Everyday community founded by Peter DiCampo and Austin Merrill as a way to combat stereotypes in the media. She is currently assisting with community development of The Everyday Projects and Everyday Everywhere.
Danielle also strongly believes in education and giving back through photography. In 2014, she founded Fotos por el Cambio, a photography workshop in collaboration with the U.S. Embassy in Lima, Peru, that aims to empower communities and emerging photographers. In Spring 2016, she taught photography and multimedia at the American University of Nigeria as a traveling lecturer.
Most importantly, Danielle lives and works by the advice of her mentor Donna De Cesare: “You are a human being first and a journalist second.”
2015 - The Magnum Foundation's Inge Morath Award, 2015 - Pride Photo Award, 2015 - The International Photography Awards, 2015 - Getty Reportage Emerging Talent Roster
Thousands of Syrian refugees who have been smuggled into Turkey from Syria are recruited to work as migrant laborers on farms scattered throughout Turkey, with promise of accommodations and pay. Upon arrival, however, their new “homes” lack adequate facilities such as bathrooms, bedrooms or drainage and sewer systems. The unsuitable living conditions cause a litany of health issues, which can be especially challenging for women and children.
Since 2002 when Boko Haram was founded in northern Nigeria’s Borno State, or “The Home of Peace,” the Islamic militant group has increasingly used violence to terrorize communities, killing more than 20,000 people and forcing millions to leave their homes -- acts which have ranked them as the deadliest terrorist group in the world.
Through killings, bombings, abductions, looting, burning and pillaging, they have disrupted access to vital services such as education and health care and have debilitated daily life for both Muslims and Christians. Though the Nigerian army has recaptured most of the territory from Boko Haram’s “caliphate,” the insurgents continue to randomly attack villages, making it incredibly difficult for people to rebuild and reestablish their livelihoods.
In Peru, a country with a highly machismo, conservative, religious and transphobic culture, transgender women are extremely marginalized and discriminated against in society. Persecution begins early, causing them to abandon their families and studies. With few options or economic support, many practice prostitution. As a result, many live in compromised conditions throughout their lives with limited opportunities for social security, higher education or employment outside the streets. With few avenues for upward mobility, they are sequestered in hostile environments characterized by rejection, fear and exploitation. As sex workers, they're at greater risk of violence and abuse, and are less able to protect their health. In fact, eighty percent of trans homicides worldwide occur in Latin America. Without legal protections or recognition, many cases of violence and death in Peru go undocumented, leaving these human rights violations invisible.