Ricky J. Carrasco: A photographer who wants to build a better world – one picture at a time
By Joe Olvera ©, 2010
It took imagination, creativity, and not a little chutzpah for Ricky J. Carrasco to re-design a Mexican game known as La Loteria (the lottery) – a Mexican Bingo-like game that features pictures of Mexican icons instead of numbers. But, he did it. Carrasco re-designed the 54-card deck in the traditional game because, he says, his girlfriend’s mom inspired him when she dropped her traditional loteria game on the kitchen floor.
“My girlfriend’s mom had just come home from playing loteria, when she accidentally dropped the game on the floor,” Carrasco said. “La Estrella (the star) caught my eye immediately. I had already taken a photo of the Star on the Mountain, so my imagination took hold. I said to myself, why not re-design the cards on the traditional game and turn it into ‘Loteria El Paso.’”
The next pic that captured his eye was El Gallo (the rooster). “I had already taken a shot of a rooster at Licon’s Dairy Farm in San Elizario, so that became my second inspiration. From then on, I searched all over El Paso to find representations that would fit nicely into my new Loteria game.”
Carrasco, born near Los Angeles, California, but raised in El Paso, worked eight years as a middle school teacher. He took up photography as a hobby, a hobby that is turning into a life-long ambition – to become a professional photographer. To that end, he has entered contests, such as Capture El Paso – a city-wide project that encourages photographers, both pro and amateur, to shoot El Paso in all its glorious beauty. He saw a scorpion climbing a wall, and that became El Alacran – only this Alacran looks more menacing and poisonous than the one in the traditional loteria game.
“If you ask me which one is my favorite, I would say that all 54 are my favorites,” Carrasco said. “However, El Alacran truly stands out. Another favorite is Tin Tan. To capture his essence, I took a photo of his statue that sits in front of the Juarez Cathedral. He represents El Catrin – the gentleman.” Tin Tan was a Mexican comedian who became famous during Mexico’s Golden Age of Cinema.
Carrasco, who had to travel to Juarez constantly to capture his images, said he realized one thing – that, despite the murderous atmosphere, people are still as humble and still as friendly as ever. “At first my mom was scared to death of going to Juarez, and that’s understandable. But, we soon realized one thing, the people are still great, they are still humble, and they still love their dangerous city. They have the right to be mad about what’s happening there, but, interestingly enough, they’re not. They are still a courteous and gentle people.”
Carrasco said he was amazed by a little girl – about 8 years old – who stood out from the crowd. He wanted to take a picture of her, and had to get permission from her father, who is blind. “When I asked her what she wanted to do in life, she told me that she wanted to study hard in school so that she could become someone in life. I was amazed at her courage and her vision.”
Carrasco has big plans for his future as a would-be professional photographer. Although his Loteria cards are not pasted on boards as is the traditional game, he can sell a full set of the 54 cards for $50, or he can sell wallet-sized cards individually. Although he’s an English teacher by profession, he wants to turn pro and work for a major newspaper or some other publication.
“I’m pro-El Paso, and pro-Education,” he said. “When I was a kid I was a real nerd, but I always had my goals in front of me. Thanks to my girlfriend, I now have a professional type camera when before I had a rinky-dink one. But, the camera isn’t what makes a good photographer. You’ve got to have heart and you’ve got to love people and love your city. Well, I’ve got both. I love El Paso, Juarez, and I love the people. That’s what truly matters.”
For more info on Ricky J. Carrasco contact: firstname.lastname@example.org or visit ximenace.zenfolio.com