Cris

Chile

This is
Cris Toala Olivares (1982)

Country of origin
Chile

In the Netherlands since 

2005

Profession
Photographer

First impression of Amsterdam 
The unique sound of the tram

Still would like to 
Make a second photo-album of Amsterdam

“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

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