Associated Press photographer Julio Cortez visits Photography class

Rikka Lei Dimalanta

His childhood goal was to become a sports journalist. Along the way, Associated Press (AP) photographer Julio Cortez picked up a camera and has since captured many memorable events, including several World Cups, riots following the killing of George Floyd and the Jan. 6 attack at the Capitol. 

“My goal was to someday take pictures that would end up in history books,” said Cortez, who is still hoping to photograph a World Series.

Cortez spoke to the Period 2 Photography class students on Ma 17. He started his journey at 12 years old when he was on his middle school newspaper here in the San Fernando Valley and continued as editor-in-chief at Grant High School. He took semesters off in college for journalism internships and continued on with his unfolding career throughout high school and college. 

An undocumented student at the time, Cortez attended Los Angeles Valley College, Pierce College and California State University, Northridge, where he received his journalism degree. 

With persistence and strong ambition, he was able to get a job for the AP and finally make some recognizable progress toward his long term goal of photographing an international sports championship. He has been a journalist for 15 years, and he’s worked for The Associated Press based in Baltimore, Maryland, for about 10 years. During his job at AP, he’s been able to cover and witness many news events and stories, including the Minneapolis riots following the death of George Floyd and the Capitol riots on Jan. 6. At the Capitol attack, he captured footage on his Go-Pro as he helped a fellow AP photographer who was being attacked. 

“It’s all about emotion,” Cortez said. “In journalism, we don’t make anything up.”

Cortez is also a big baseball fan, and he is especially passionate about sports photography. The Los Angeles Dodgers fan has gotten the opportunity to do sports photography for many different sporting tournaments and competitions, most recently the Preakness Stakes horse race, and each one is a step closer to the famous World Series.

“If journalism is your passion, if photography is your passion, start looking at who you can assist,” Cortez said, offering a piece of advice for aspiring photographers who should also follow their dreams.