She might just be a “random chick in an alley,” but the stories she portrays through her lens unfold the layers of Baltimore unlike anyone else.
Maggie Ybarra is an editor in Washington, D.C. by day and a Baltimore crime scene photographer by night.
She wasn’t always a crime photographer. Ybarra said she started taking photos as a child when she felt lonely. Her earliest subjects? Bugs.
“All I had money for was to go to the park and get a macro lens and take pictures of bugs. And I thought I was really good at it,” she said.”
It wasn’t until Ybarra spent some time in Mexico that she became interested in street photography. She started capture images from the Drug War.
When she moved to Baltimore, Ybarra picked up her camera – something she says always does in a new city. It was at least a year before she starting shooting crime scenes. She started filming crime, because that’s what she saw going on.
“Crime is so rampant in Baltimore that people only pay attention to it if it’s extraordinary crime,” Ybarra said.
She says there have been too many times she was the only photographer at a crime scene.
“I think that more stories need to be told,” Ybarra said. “And I don’t know if that’s what I’m achieving, but I always feel glad when I show up and I’m the only one there, not because it’s exclusive or anything, but because at least someone showed up.”
For her, photography is all about light and the art it creates.
“If we didn’t have art, we wouldn’t have the beautiful things in life,” she said. “I’m sure there’s plenty of people that look at crime scene photography or whatever it is that I do and don’t see what I see in it. It doesn’t matter. As long as you feel like you’re driving forward, you’re doing something beautiful in life that somebody else hasn’t seen before – go with that. Because you’re bringing something useful into the world as opposed to taking something out it.”
Her photography began as a hobby and it still remains one. She says her goal was never to tell stories, but that’s exactly what she’s accomplished.
If you haven’t seen her work, it’s worth the time – it just might open a new perspective on Baltimore.