Some photographers are great with color, others with people and portraiture. Marvin has a knack for capturing and displaying landscape photos throughout the city. Photo by Daniel Mondragón

Daniel Mondragón is a 25-year-old photographer who was born and raised in the Mission. As part of our series Young Mission Talent, Mondragón takes portraits of his favorite young artists of the Mission District and talks with them about their art.

Marvin is a 25-year-old photographer from Guatemala. He currently resides in the V.G.’s, also known as the Valencia Gardens. This young artist has called The Mission home since 1998 and he says he’s here to stay.

Marvin Santiago Jimenez. Photo by Daniel Mondragón.

Marvin Santiago Jimenez, a 25-year-old photographer living in the Mission, has been shooting professionally for a little over two years now, he says, “I’ve always really liked art, even as a kid. I found out about photography in junior college but it wasn’t until I bought my first DSLR that I started taking it serious,” says Jimenez.

Unlike the vast majority of young photographers – especially those raised in San Francisco’s inner-city – Marvin has a unique interest in landscape photography. He is extraordinarily good at it too.

“The neighborhoods in San Francisco [ specifically the Mission ] remind me of home in Todos Santos, Guatemala,” said Marvin. He immigrated to the United States with his mother and two brothers when he was nine years old.  The move had a big impact on Marvin. Growing up, he often felt confused because he only spoke one dialect of Mayan and everyone kept trying to communicate with him in Spanish.   He quickly picked up English by watching plenty of television and listening to everyone around him.

Marvin is seemingly fearless as he stands over the ledge of a 20-story building. ” I’ll go to any lengths to make sure my photos come out just right.” Photo by Daniel Mondragón.

Marvin remembers being an avid drawer, an outlet for him even as a very young child. He recalls winning a drawing competition at Everett Middle School. This was an early milestone, a foreshadowing of greater things to come.

“Even as a kid I was always drawing in sketchbooks and painting with watercolors. Watercolors! Those were my favorite I actually still really, really like them!, As a matter of fact, I am still inspired by watercolors and I look for similarities in color hues and saturation when I am shooting landscapes. They’re all really similar. ”

Climbing a fire escape to the top of a roof at an undisclosed location. Photo by Daniel Mondragón.

Marvin bought his first Nikon DSLR six years ago when he was 19. He was immediately drawn to landscape photography as it reminded him of his home in Guatemala which was surrounded by mountainous regions. Taking landscape photos felt like a refuge.

He is naturally gifted. From my photography point-of-view, Marvin’s landscape portraits are mind-boggling.

Marvin Jiminez sitting atop a roof, often where he feels most natural. Photo by Daniel Mondragón.

As a street photographer who focuses primarily on people as the subject matter, I had to ask Marvin what he finds so interesting about mountain ranges and images of the Golden Gate Bridge at night.  “Landscape offers me so much more freedom than any other style of portraiture,” he said. “It gives me a much clearer view on how the environment [the neighborhood] is constantly evolving.”

Jimenez’s work is reminiscent of a painter’s work. “My intention was always to capture and deliver my images raw, but all these software programs like photoshop allow me to really make my own creations while still keeping the original photo. I mean, I can literally make a painting from my photo.  It’s  my favorite!” Marvin said with a huge smirk on his face. He loves what he does and you can read it all over his face.

Marvin says he’s grateful to have been raised in the Mission. “I felt as close to home as possible because of the people I was surrounded with, the smells and the sounds were just like back home,” he said. “The only difference were all the different languages. Today I know three.”

Marvin is also available for event-photography. He has experience in maternity portraiture, club and night-life, as well as all sorts of parties. He would like to be part of a collective and shoot weddings.

I find it increasingly difficult to find young talented artists such as Marvin who have been in the Mission the majority of their lives. We are an endangered species, as it can be quite challenging to continue practicing various art mediums while maintaining balance with the changes in this constantly evolving neighborhood we know as La Mission, our home.

Today, Marvin’s primary focus is traveling and learning photojournalism. He finds great inspiration from Doctores sin Fronteras (Doctors without Borders), a non-profit humanitarian group of doctors who saved Marvin’s life as a child in Guatemala after being born prematurely. He plans on paying it forward and would like to take his work internationally. Marvin wants to take photography to the next level and make art for a greater cause such as journalism where he can bring the pressing issues of international news to the attention of all Americans.

Below is some of Marvin’s work along with a link to his very own blog.

Self-Portrait with Landscape. Photo by Marvin Santiago Jimenez.
Photo by Marvin Santiago Jimenez.

More of Marvin’s work can be found on his Tumblr and/or on Instagram @MARVINSVNTIAGO.

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