Xyza Cruz Bacani

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Xyza Cruz Bacani
Xyza Cruz Bacani -Professional Photographer-.jpg
Born1987 (age 34–35)
OccupationStreet photographer

Xyza Cruz Bacani (born 1987) is a Filipina street photographer and documentary photographer.[1] She is known for her black-and-white photographs of Hong Kong and documentary projects about migration and the intersections of labor and human rights. She is one of the Magnum Foundation's Human Rights Fellows and is the recipient of a resolution passed by the Philippines House of Representatives in her honor, HR No. 1969. Xyza is one of the BBC’s 100 Women of the World 2015,[2] 30 Under 30 Women Photographers 2016, Forbes 30 Under 30 Asia 2016, and a Fujifilm Ambassador.[3] She is the recipient of grants from Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting 2016,[4] WMA Commission 2017,[5] and part of Open Society Foundations Moving Walls 24.[6]

Early life[edit]

Bacani grew up in Bambang, Nueva Vizcaya, the eldest of three children. She studied for a bachelor's degree in nursing at Saint Mary's University in Bayombong before dropping out and leaving the Philippines to raise funds for the education of her siblings.


At the age of 19, she joined her mother in Hong Kong, working as a nanny for an affluent family in the Mid-Levels. Bacani started taking casual photographs after purchasing her first digital single-lens reflex camera with a loan from her employer.[7][8] Her interest in photography developed while she was still in college, but she was unable to afford her own camera at the time. She is now a full time photographer working on various under reported projects around the world.


Among her various street photography images of Hong Kong society, she has covered the 2014 Hong Kong protests in Central and documented the lives of other domestic helpers at Bethune House Migrant Women's Refuge in Jordan, Hong Kong.[9][10]

Her work has drawn comparisons to those taken by American street photographer Vivian Maier, who had also worked as a nanny; however, Bacani dismisses the comparison, wanting her work to stand on its own.[11][12]


Magnum Foundation Human Rights Fellowship[edit]

In 2015, Xyza won the prestigious Magnum Foundation Human Rights scholarship to New York University, which will pay for her to enroll in the Tisch School for the Arts six-week photography course.[13] She then obtained her MA in Arts Politics from NYU in 2022, despite a lack of an undergraduate degree.


  1. ^ Nieves, Evelyn (14 September 2015). "Photographing Human Trafficking in New York". Lens Blog. Retrieved 8 August 2021.
  2. ^ "BBC 100 Women 2015: Who is on the list?". BBC News. 17 November 2015. Retrieved 8 August 2021.
  3. ^ "Fujifilm [Philippines]". Retrieved 8 August 2021.
  4. ^ "Xyza Bacani". Archived from the original on 9 March 2017.
  5. ^ "Commission – WMA". Retrieved 8 August 2021.
  6. ^ "Moving Walls". Open Society Foundations. Retrieved 8 August 2021.
  7. ^ De Guzman, Nickky Faustine (13 July 2014). "This domestic helper is an international photographer". Manila Bulletin. Retrieved 8 January 2015.
  8. ^ Choi, Wai-man (22 November 2014). "坦白講 Get a Life: Xyza Cruz Bacani". Next Magazine (in Chinese). Retrieved 8 January 2015.
  9. ^ Gonzales, Lara (30 October 2014). "Photographer.DH: The story of Xyza Cruz Bacani". GMA News. Retrieved 8 January 2015.
  10. ^ a b c Tsui, Anjali (6 January 2015). "A lens into the hidden lives of Hong Kong domestic workers". CNN. Retrieved 8 January 2015.
  11. ^ MacDonald, Kerri (18 June 2014). "Taking Care of People and Pictures in Hong Kong". The New York Times. Retrieved 8 January 2015.
  12. ^ Kung, Billy (25 September 2014). "'Caring' Photographs: Xyza Cruz Bacani". ArtAsiaPacific. Retrieved 8 January 2015.
  13. ^ Zhang, Michael (23 January 2015). "Filipino Domestic Worker Earns Prestigious Magnum Fellowship for Her Photography". PetaPixel. Retrieved 23 February 2021.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)

External links[edit]