“I see my arrival in the Netherlands as a second chance at life. I came here to study when I was twenty years old. I had brought nothing with me but hope. My father supported the family in Chile, but died when I was ten. My family could no longer support me. I ended up on the street and had to work: downright child labour.
I’ve always been interested in people. My first part-time job in Amsterdam was as a home carer and when they would ask, “Cris, could you come over and help?” I’d jump up on my bike straight away. I usually worked for well-educated clients and spent my breaks looking through their libraries. They’d ask, “Would you like to read that?” where I’d reply, “I’d love to!” That’s how I learned Dutch.
You have to love Amsterdam. We live in an open air museum. The first few months, we wanted to be together all the time - Amsterdam and I. Every day. With her magical light breaking upon the water. Since then I have become a renowned photographer and have published books such as The Amsterdam Canals. I’m no longer a Chilean photographer, I am known as a Dutch photographer throughout the world.
I’m extremely grateful that I have been given the opportunity to work my way up to such a privileged position. If I had stayed in Chile, I would never have come so far. South America adheres to the American system of rich and poor. You can’t make a silk purse out of a sow’s ear in Chile. But I’ll never forget where my roots are. I’m still the same, simple person. But home is Amsterdam. I show off this city by way of my photography. And I’m very proud of this!”
464 people in Amsterdam have the Chilean nationality