Dentist-turned-photographer Phil Borges documents the world's disappearing cultures, capturing portraits of exiled Tibetan monks and embattled tribes in the Amazon. He is the founder of Bridges to Understanding, which teaches digital storytelling to teenagers.
Spurred by the rapid disappearance of the world's indigenous peoples and their oral traditions, Phil Borges abandoned his dentistry practice to pursue his first love, photography. For the past 25 years, he has traveled to the farthest reaches of the globe to meet with persecuted Tibetan monks engaged in nonviolent struggle and embattled tribespeople of the Ecuadorian Amazon who must defend their way of life by any means necessary. Through interviews and portraiture, Borges documents his subjects and their tribulations with dignity, and conveys their rarely heard stories.
He is a co-founder of Blue Earth Alliance, which sponsors photographic projects focusing on endangered cultures and threatened environments, and the founder of Bridges to Understanding, an interactive online classroom that promotes cross-cultural learning between indigenous and American youths. By teaching teenagers how to share stories through digital filmmaking, Borges hopes they'll develop the mental flexibility and cultural sensitivity to understand and appreciate belief systems outside their own.
"Phil Borges' images, filled with dignity, often are reminiscent of portraits of nobility by Velázquez. ... The photographer imbues images of children with the respect and compassion he believes they deserve, yet too seldom receive."OC Weekly
“Of the 6,000 languages spoken on Earth right now, 3,000 aren’t spoken by the children. In one generation, we’re going to halve our cultural diversity.”
“Every two weeks, an elder goes to the grave carrying the last spoken word of that culture. An entire philosophy, a body of knowledge about the natural world that had been empirically gleaned over centuries, goes away.”