Photographer, part-time driver, local hero
Read his full story below
He’s a Sacramento native, full-time photographer, part time driver and local hero who used his quick thinking to save one of his passengers from child sex trafficking.
How did you first get started in photography?
Keith: You know when my son was born I started taking pictures with him on my phone and I would take pictures all the time. I slowly upgraded to better equipment and kept taking more and more pictures. Now I have all this professional gear and it all started with taking pictures of my son, who is now 6 years old.
Nowadays I provide video and photography services for quinceañeras- which are the 15th birthday of a girl in the Mexican culture. It's basically a really fancy birthday party where the girls wear big, fancy dresses.
How did you get into taking pictures at quinceañeras?
One day I just happened to be at an expo for quinceañeras and I took a picture of a girl with her dress and I posted it. At that time my photography wasn’t really getting out there but I posted this one picture of this girl and her dress and a lot of people liked it and shared it. I realized the interest was in this film, so I followed where the interest was and discovered there was a big interest around quinceañeras.
Tell us about your wife, Maria.
We’ve been married for 8 years. We started out our marriage with traveling. We’ve lived in LA, Hollywood, Florida, and more — but when we had our son we decided to settle down in Sacramento and have been building upon our business ever since. It’s a family business. We both create and we both put into it to create this business together.
What’s driving with Uber like?
It’s very flexible, it’s built around my time, and it’s a lot of fun to do. You just go driving and in between pickups I’m just listening to music. I study, believe it or not, and learn new things. Any chance I get I study. For example, I’ll listen to a lecture in my car and just wait for people to ring in. I go pick them up, have a short conversation and I get to know them -- so it’s very convenient and gives me a lot of time to myself so I can expand my skills and learn at the same time.
Tell us about the day after Christmas.
That day my wife and I had just pulled into the driveway -- and usually I’ll go and have something to eat and loaf a little bit before going out to drive. But that particular day as soon as I got in the driveway I just felt ready, so I turned on the app and received a ride request right away.
When I went out to pick the passengers up, this young girl stepped into my car and she was wearing this really short skirt that seemed really inappropriate for her age. These two other girls who looked around the age of 25 also got into the car. I didn’t know what was going on so I started driving and just listened. When they started talking, it was very obvious that the older girl really didn’t care if I knew about it or not and was openly telling the young girl what to do -- she said to “pat the guy down for guns, ask for the donation before you do anything.”
I knew I had to get this little girl out of this situation. If it’s scary for me to act upon this situation, just think about how scary it was for her.
"I knew I had to get this little girl out of this situation."
— Keith, Uber Sacramento Partner
What advice would you give to others who ever find themselves in that situation?
I would just advise him or her to remember as much detail as possible. When they were talking I was listening. One of them happened to say the room number so I just started repeating it in my head over and over so I wouldn’t forget it. I looked at what they were wearing so I could provide a description to the police.
Before I called the police I drove away just enough where they couldn’t see me in an area that was safer. Ultimately when I told the police officers the room number that’s how they found the guy that ordered the services. The police officer told me that “from all the information that you provided we were able to take them all down and it was very helpful that you had so much information.”
Why is this so important to you?
I wouldn’t want this to happen to my son or anyone. I compared this terrible thing I was seeing to the happiness I capture as a photographer. I take pictures of these 15-year-old girls for their quinceañeras. Everything’s really exciting, everything’s fun. They have a good life and I’m capturing these very happy moments. Then, in that car on the other side of the spectrum I saw this girl and she’s pretty much about the same age. I saw the contrast -- on one side you’ve got this girl and her life is wonderful and on the other side here’s a girl who’s trapped into this system.
We provide transportation to the community. Everyone we pick up is very, very nice -- When you go pick people up, you're not only transporting them but you're responsible for them and their safety is in your hands. People are trusting you -- and even though it goes unnoticed or no one really talks about it, they still trust you and you want to maintain that sense of trust.
This opportunity is for an independent contractor. Statements are the opinion of the driver interviewed. Actual earnings vary depending on number of rides accepted and taken, time of day, location and other factors.