Opinion: Manuel 'Memo' Cavada was my artistic muse, my mentor and my dear friend – The San Diego Union-Tribune

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Lopez is a photographer, mobile notary and a member of the San Diego County Hispanic Chamber of Commerce who lives in National City.
Memo Cavada was many things to many different people, but to me he was my artistic muse, my mentor and a dear friend. I met Memo Cavada, or as I called him “Manny,” when I was in the 10th grade. I went to his studio with a friend of mine to have his senior photos taken, and I remember thinking, “Wow, he is really taking his time and making sure the pictures come out nice.” He wasn’t trying to rush through the session. He wanted to make sure my friend was happy with the results. I had never seen that kind of attention to detail before in a photographer. My experience had been of me watching people being rushed through their photo sessions. I could also tell that he was having fun doing it and that he loved it. Anytime Manny was taking pictures of someone, he made sure they were having fun too. That attention to detail and making sure you were happy with your pictures never changed. Many years later, when my kids had their photo sessions with Manny, he was just as professional and fun as the first day I met him.
Opinion: I painted ‘A Tribute to Memo’ to honor my dear friend
Manuel “Memo” Cavada was respected by so many people from throughout San Diego.

Opinion: Photographer Manuel ‘Memo’ Cavada chronicled our Latino community
Memo believed in bringing community together and servant leadership.

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Throughout the years, he became not only my mentor but an amazing friend to me and my family. Of course, he was the family photographer for my family’s special events, but to our family he was more than a photographer, he was and will always be someone who loved his family, friends and his community. I saw in him characteristics of a person who only wanted to help others and see them succeed. He wanted you to be happy in everything you did. I always joked with him and told him I wanted to be like him when I grew up. But it’s true, he is someone that I will always look up to and aspire to be like.
Everyone Manny met was automatically his friend and he offered to help them any way he could. I knew that anytime I saw him, I would be greeted with a smile and the biggest hug. I loved talking to him about traveling and photography; those were the things we bonded over the most. We both loved to travel and take pictures, especially in Oaxaca, Mexico. That is what we most had in common, our love of Oaxaca.
Manny knew how much I loved photography and he always encouraged me to continue doing it. He always asked me, “Are you still shooting?” Or replied with “I am happy to hear you’re still shooting … never stop.” I can still hear his voice saying it. Since the day I met him, he always had so much confidence in my photographic abilities. So much, that when he couldn’t attend an event to take pictures at Centro Cultural De La Raza, he had me go in his place. I was always so nervous to take his place, but of course he was calm and smiled at me how only he could and said, “I know you can do it! They already know you’ll be there.”
Manny was always so humble. He never talked about his accomplishments, and he had many. I only found out about most of them at the celebration of his life. I am proud to say that Guillermo Aranda and Salvador Barajas, the artists for Manny’s commemorative wall, were gracious enough that I was given the opportunity to make a small contribution to his mural and was able to paint a portion of the camera. This is very special and symbolic to me, as he sparked my love of photography. I will forever love and miss him!
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