Renowned photojournalist Ismael Fernández passes away
Photojournalist José Ismael Fernández Reyes, known among family friends as “Ismaelito,” passed away Tuesday while hospitalized, burdened with multiple health conditions.
Born in Guaynabo, and fathered by also renowned journalist and legislator Ismael Fernández Pacheco, Fernández Reyes served as a photojournalist for over 35 years in local newspaper El Nuevo Día, from which he retired in November.
Throughout his career as a photojournalist, Fernández Reyes covered various events inside and outside of Puerto Rico that defined historic milestones not just for the island but the world as well, suchas the Dupont Plaza Hotel arson in 1986 and the landslides in Ponce’s Barrio Mameyes in 1985.
Fernández Reyes also reported on presidents and heads of state, and all of Puerto Rico’s elected governors. Distinguishable among said coverage were the Soviet premier Mikhail Gorbachev’s visit to Cuba, his encounter with Fidel Castro in 1989 and Pope John Paul II’s trip to Cuba in 1999.
The veteran photojournalist also covered sporting events such as the Olympic, Pan-American and Central American games, baseball series and boxing tournaments.
“Reporters master the art of the word; photojournalists master the art of image,” Fernández Reyes would typically respond when asked for his job description.
Fernández Reyes is the only Puerto Rican to have been recognized for his photojournalistic work by Spanish news agency EFE with the King of Spain Journalism Award in 1995.
His passion for photographic work led Fernández Reyes to found the Taller de Fotoperiodismo (Photojournalism Workshop), through which thousands of kids from low-income households in Puerto Rico have been offered a creative experience through the world of photography.
He is survived by his widow, also journalist Nilka Estrada Resto, and their children and grandchildren.