Ex-Hong Kong DH Xyza Cruz Bacani Wins Fresh Acclaim as Photographer

After leaving her job as a domestic helper to pursue her passion as a photographer, and receiving accolades in the process, Xyza Cruz Bacani continues to impress as she won fresh acclaim for her work that documents the daily life in Hong Kong, particularly on the lives if foreign domestic workers.

Bacani, 30, has just been named by photography magazine Photo District as one of the 30 New and Emerging Photographers to Watch in 2017. This comes after Bacani secured a spot on BBC’s 100 Women of the World list.

She first came to Hong Kong when she was 19, taking the domestic helper job to support her family in the Philippines. With her passion in photography, Bacani spends her days off from work taking photos on the streets of Hong Kong, using her single-lens reflex camer obtained with the help of a loan from her employer.

Typical of her subjects include ordinary people, especially domestic workers, and shares the photos on Facebook.

She started to get more attention from the media when, in 2014, a photographer named Rick Rocamora praised her work in an article published in The New York Times. Bacani soon received several photography awards. She later quit her job in 2015 after she received an offer to become a Magnum Foundation Human Rights Fellow plus a scholarship to study photography in the United States later that year.

She then decided to pursue her dream, with support from her family and her employer. Now she is a freelance photographer, contributing pictures to The New York Times, South China Morning Post and other media outlets.

New York Times photographer James Estrin has described Bacani’s work as heartfelt and full of empathy, especially the photos which she took to document the lives of foreign maids in Hong Kong.