Tomás Karmelo Amaya is Yaqui (Yoeme), Zuni (Ashiwi), and Tarahumara (Rarámuri). He is a photographer, filmmaker, and writer born and raised in Phoenix, AZ who currently resides in Chicago, IL. When he was 7 years old he wrote a poem that describes the passing of his grandmother as the graceful descent of an eagle’s feather. This early expression would become the foundation to a lifelong journey of honoring all forms of life through written, verbal, sonic, and visual poetry.
As a Native person, the traditional teachings and values of his people have heavily influenced how he internalizes and interacts with the world. His work has been known to empower communities by way of high-quality, striking images that show dignity, respect, and cultural sensitivity for the subject.
His professional career in photography began while he was completing his bachelor's degree in Creative Writing at Arizona State University. Raised by storytellers and healers, he fought to embrace his indigeneity even in environments that wanted to suppress his Native voice and values. He continues to explore the concept of taking a poet's and writer's perspective to honor people and spaces, describing his style as "moving my camera as I would my pen."
Whether using analog tools or the latest technology, he is particularly interested, but not limited to, documenting stories and people to celebrate their resiliency.
His work has been published with The New York Times, Buzzfeed, The Sundance Institute, Northwestern University, The Guardian, Arizona State University, The Fader, Pacific Standard Magazine, BBC News, among several others.