Andres Millan spent two years traveling around Bogotá, Colombia, and its environs, photographing people whose mental health issues or physical limitations kept them at home. Within cramped apartments where living rooms doubled as craft workshops and inside cinder block houses with dirt floors, he spent hours talking to these people about art and healing. To many in bustling urban centers, they were invisible, out of sight and out of luck.
But to Mr. Millan, they were kindred spirits he could not ignore. He knew the sacrifices made by caretakers who, in the absence of any real government programs, set aside their own careers to take on the full-time job of looking after children, brothers — even strangers — confronting serious conditions. He had once been among them.
“When I was 7, I was diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia,” Mr. Millan said. “I still remember a lot of the experiences I had, like when I got lost in a mall because I was following imaginary voices. I think that made me a lot more open, and that allowed people to tell me their stories. I could understand them better.”
Those stories — focused on overcoming hardship, not being mired in it — are at the heart of “Invisibles,” a project he undertook after a chance meeting with Antonio Castañeda, a sculptor and caretaker who had established a foundation to help people with disabilities through the arts. The project consists not just of images, which combine several frames to make panoramas that show caretakers along with their charges, but also interviews and a documentary.