José Muñoz has been taking pictures of the Phoenix Metro area and the Latin community on the Arizona-Mexico border for over half a century.
“I love it. It gets higher just by clicking on the shutter. I get higher by being around people like myself,” Munoz said in an interview with NBC News. “Some people will call me from time to time to book me, so I go to their house, and I see my work on their walls. I feel great about it increase.”
Munoz, 69 records much of Arizona’s Latin history, from cultural events and family gatherings to marches and protests.
“I like taking pictures of the race because it’s comfortable,” said Munoz, who was recently featured in The Arizona Republic. “I find it really comfortable to be around them, and so are they.”
“I just want to leave a mark as a photographer,” Munoz said.
When he was a teenager in the early ’60s, his mother gave him a Nikko Matte camera. His passion for photography began with taking pictures of his family.
Munoz was born in Ciudad Juárez, Chihuahua, Mexico, just south of El Paso, Texas. Three years later, his family emigrated to Arizona, where he grew up. After graduating from high school, he joined the US Air Force in 1971, spending time in Colorado and Maine. He was later stationed in Germany for two years during the Vietnam War.
He took a Nikon camera and took pictures of soldiers and Latin bands invited to play at the air force base.
“I took a lot of pictures there. I was very lucky to be able to do that,” Munoz said.
After his service, he decided to make a career out of his hobbies and graduated with a degree in fine art photography from Phoenix University in 1980.
He said most of his early success was due to his late wife, Jane Ellen Munoz.
“She is the one who made me do it,” he said. “Thanks to Jane, she did all the advertising for me, so I was doing a lot of work.”
She organized him by documenting all his photographs, creating bookkeeping, and arranging everything properly.
In 1985, they started photography by his business, Jose L. Munoz.
As his business grew, he published many publications, including The Arizona Republic and its Spanish sister publication, La Voz Arizona, and Cambio! Worked for Hispanic publications, including. Above all, magazines and future Latin magazines.