TOMÁS Karmelo Amaya


Born for the A:shiwi, Rarámuri, and Yoeme tribes, creative Tomás Karmelo Amaya focuses his work on creating opportunities of healing and meaningful reflection by embracing intentionality and Indigenous teachings in all manner of expression. Growing up around storytellers and traditional healers in Phoenix, Arizona, USA, Tomás’ upbringing in a vibrant community has heavily influenced the visual language of his photography, film directing and writing. In his ongoing series Native Love Stories, Tomás illustrates the abundance of Indigenous circles, including love, service to others, community strength, and the ability to thrive.

Tomás’s wife Siera Amaya and their baby Haseya
Tomas, wife Siera Amaya and their baby Haseya

Together, in collaboration with each person photographed, we are showing what Indigenous self-determination looks and feels like. We are restoring, rebuilding, and reclaiming narratives that have been threatened for far too long.

Siera Amaya nursing their baby Haseya in the desert

Using the H6D-100c took the technical aspect of my visual storytelling to another level. I have been blessed to work with community members and on projects that have such powerful stories. I was searching for a high-performing camera to honor those stories in great detail and found a solid solution in the H6D-100c. Knowing that the camera is hefty, I loved the challenge of working to its strengths much like dancers do. There was something viscerally rewarding about achieving evocative and light-footed images that display movement and emotive energy with such a robust tool.

Dancer Ty Lodgepole in his Prairie Chicken Dance regalia
Weaver, style icon, and skateboarder Naiomi Glasses

In addition to using natural light, one of the techniques I’ve developed the most is how to effectively shape light with one monolight. In most of the images featured here I used a Broncolor Siros 800L with a 175cm Elinchrom Rotalux Octabox or a comparably sized 150cm Broncolor Octabox. The key is to use the two internal diffusion elements when possible to achieve a softer light source.

Dancer Ty Lodgepole in his Prairie Chicken Dance regalia

I’ve noticed incredible color accuracy in the H6D-100c when working with .3fr files, especially in skin tones. I’ve been in challenging lighting situations, for example with Ty the dancer in the red rock formation landscapes. Once I brought the photos in for editing, I was happy to find that I was able to carefully render colors with buttery smoothness. The 16 bit files are gorgeous. Knowing that I have the latitude in terms of dynamic range and color accuracy, I’m more confident to spend time on other elements of expression.

Hoop Dancer Jorge Gonzalez-Zuniga Jr.
Hoop Dancer Jorge Gonzalez-Zuniga Jr.


Born and raised in West Phoenix, Arizona on the ancestral homelands of the O’odham, Maricopa, Yavapai, and Yoeme tribes, Tomás Karmelo Amaya is a multi-disciplined creative, working as a photographer, film director and writer. He is highly recognized for his striking, emotional and cinematic visual style that is rooted in deeper topics. “When I create images, I like to bring the same care, attention to detail, lyricism, and depth that I bring to writing poetry and songs. Every frame is intentional, meaningful, and connected to a larger conversation of Indigenous self-determination, sovereignty, healing ways, and love letters to our future,” says Tomás. See more of his work here.


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