ESTOL Federico

Shine Heroes

Uruguay / Italy


Everyday, 3000 shoeshiners of all ages go through the streets of La Paz and El Alto in search of clients. They have become a real social phenomenon in the Bolivian capital. The members of this new tribe all wear ski masks to remain anonymous and confront the discrimination they face. No one, not even those close to them or their family, knows they are shoeshiners. 

For three years, Federico Estol collaborated with sixty shoeshiners associated with their newspaper Hormigón Armado. Together, they planned photographic scenes, using the architecture of El Alto as backdrop. These shoeshine heroes thus became both the producers and the protagonists of a visual urban essay to fight against the social stigma their community suffers.


With the support of the Italian Cultural Institute of Paris.

About the artist

An Italian-Uruguayan visual storyteller born in 1981, Federico Estol graduated from the Image Processing and Multimedia Technology Centre at UPC in Barcelona. Artistic director of the San José Foto festival in Uruguay, Federico also works as an editor for El Ministerio Ediciones publishing house. He recently received the New Visions 2021 award of the Cortona On the Move festival in Italy.