Credit: Erick Madrid

A loyal reader of the Santa Barbara Independent since he moved to town a quarter century ago, Erick Madrid always looked forward to reading our Local Heroes issue, which comes out each Wednesday before Thanksgiving  and was the first-ever issue of the newspaper back in 1986. This year, Madrid was tapped for the assignment of shooting all of the Hero portraits, a roundup that requires lots of patience, poise, and logistics. 

“I was honored to receive this assignment, then immediately felt the pressure!” explained Madrid. He decided to ask our longtime staff photographer Paul Wellman, who left the paper in early 2020, for advice. “He was a great help,” said Madrid. “Thank you, Paul!”

Once the photo sessions started lining up, Madrid explained, “It was a great time. Getting to know the Heroes a bit and then shooting them was a great experience.”

It made him wonder, what actually makes a Local Hero? “After shooting all of them, the answer came,” he said. “It’s pretty simple: They’re just good people, day in and day out. To me, this hits the heart of photojournalism. Getting to know the people in your community, then taking their picture. People like this affect everyone’s lives on a daily basis, and that’s truly heroic.”

Follow him on Instagram at @erickmadrid43


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