Photographer to Watch: Destiny Mata

My roots hail from San Antonio, Texas where I was born and raised in New York City.  I have a strong  connection with both cities.  Growing up in New York City Public Housing has played a huge role in my personal photography.  San Anto has always been my second home, summers I’d spend with my abuelos, tias, tios, and cousins.  My abuelos owned a small restaurant in the heart of the West Side of San Anto, Guadalupanitas Cafe where they made fresh tortillas and sold tex-mex food.  I spent a lot of my youth there.  The community the restaurant was located in was predominantly low-income public housing.  Most of their clientele was from the barrio.

When I graduated high school in New York I moved to San Antonio to study Photo Journalism where I studied at San Antonio Community College. While attending college I interned assisting setting up art exhibitions at the Guadalupe Cultural Arts Center, located across the street from my abuelos restaruant. I felt right at home the neighborhood was rich with a strong community.  Which reminded me of my block where I grew up in the Lower East Side of New York. I began to photograph my co-worker who interned with me at the Guadalupe, Tina single mother of two beautiful girls at the time.  She lived across the street from our internship in the Alazan Courts.  The neighborhood is tough and at times violent but there is a strong bond with the people who live there that are trying to survive that make it a unique place to live.  I’ve been documenting Tina’s story since we met at our internship during college since 2009 we have been friends ever since, since then I have met her neighbors and built a relationship with them which has allowed me to document the barrio and tell their story.
All my life has been spent back and forth from New York to Texas.  Half the year I’m here and there.  Thats just my lifestyle…I guess? When I’m in New York it’s just in my nature to document whats in front of me and that the people that surround me.  I’ve been documenting my neighbors the same amount of time that I have been photographing Tina.  I didn’t realize that I had made a connection until I was creating my portfolio and recognized a connection between both of these projects.  Maybe subconsciously I was shooting the juxtaposition of New York City Public Housing and San Antonio Public Housing.  Cultures are different but living conditions are very much the same.

For more on Destiny Mata’s work, check out her links:






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