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Difference Makers: Portraits of Leaders in the Arts, Social Justice and Sustainability

Portraits by Isaac Hernández & Words by Nancy Black

  • Paperback
  • Publication date: April 20, 2014

This series of portraits by Isaac Hernandez honors social, cultural and sustainability leaders, ranging from community activists to internationally known figures. They share a universal drive to make a difference, with unique expressions. These portraits, an ongoing passion project spanning more than a decade, were taken to accompany published interviews with these fascinating champions. This collection of inspiring leaders is an open and expanding investigation of contribution, an offering to acknowledge the possibly infinite. Ordinary people accomplish the extraordinary, including those who formed an integral core for the birth of a global movement: Selma Rubin, Paul Rellis, Marc McGinnes, and Bud Bottoms, who participated to launch Earth Day in Santa Barbara, protect the last stretch of empty coastline in California (the Gaviota Coast), develop the concept and study of environmental law, and create a host of nonprofits. These sustainability pioneers share pages with leaders like Andy Lipkis (TreePeople), Michael Pollan (author, Food Rules), Sylvia Earle (oceanographer), Paul Erlich (author The Dominant Animal), Roberta Salazar (Birds and Rivers), and Harold Powell (Telios Environmental), as well as better known personalities, like authors Amy Tan, Isabel Allende, and Gore Vidal, actors Javier Bardem, Antonio Banderas and Will Smith, and Archbishop Desmond Tutu.

About the Photographer

Isaac studied Geography and History at the Universidad Complutense in Madrid before earning a Bachelor of Arts in Photography and Film from Brooks Institute of Photography. He continues his studies, and is near completion of an Associate of Arts degree in Studio Arts from Santa Barbara City College. He co-founded Mercury Press International in 1991, a media services company committed to publishing articles and photographs of excellence, integrity and inspiration. His photographs and words have appeared in over 300 titles in 27 countries, including Art, El Mundo, Focus, Geo, Glamour, National Geographic Traveler, Sports Illustrated for Kids, Stern, USA Today and The Wall Street Journal. He’s currently working on several books, including a collection of photographic profiles of EcoHeroes. Isaac has directed several short films and animations, including The Bees (1989), and has written and produced four plays in collaboration with children: The Bridge to Nowhere (2003), The Last Play on Earth: No Child Left Behind (2010), The End of Rainbows (2011), and The Magical Seaweed (2012), directing the last three. Currently he’s creating an oil pastel a day, with the goal of exhibiting all 365 paintings in one show. His work enriches many international collections, and he´s a member of the Madrid-based artist collective La Mosca en el Reloj. Isaac also teaches art and photography, and has lectured at Brooks Institute of Photography and at the Universidad Complutense in Madrid.

About the Author

Nancy Black has been writing for publication since childhood. She co-founded Mercury Press International, a media agency providing words, images and video to magazines, books, periodicals and commercial clients. Nancy writes the daily column Linda Black Horoscopes, syndicated to millions through Tribune Content Agency (Chicago Tribune), appearing in over 80 print newspapers (Seattle Times, Miami Herald, Baltimore Sun...), television channels, websites, plus mobile and online syndication worldwide. Other publications served include National Geographic Books (US), Marie Claire (Brazil), Family Fun (US), Cosmopolitan (Spain), ELLE (Spain), USA Today (US), E (US), GEO (Germany, and Spain), Santa Barbara Magazine (US) and Mountain Bike (US). Mercury Press International serves as the US Bureau for Spanish publishing house Grupo Luike. Nancy served as Board President for Pesticide Awareness and Alternatives Coalition (2004-2007), producing the California Organic Festival and contributing to the dramatic reduction of pesticide use in city parks and schools in Santa Barbara. She loves participating with nonprofits, and has worked with The Israel Palestine Project, World Business Academy's Safe Energy Project, No on Y Campaign, Gaviota Coast Conservancy, Save Naples Coalition, and the Association for Women in Communications (served as a founding board member, Santa Barbara Chapter).Nancy grew up on a sailboat in LA and Ventura harbors, and has enough sea hours to be a charter skipper. She earned a BA in Studio Arts from UCSB, and is an accomplished oil painter and musician. Her family's passion for flamenco sent her to Spain, where she pursued art, language, music and travel. She and her husband Isaac Hernandez have just published "Difference Makers", their love letter to inspiring leaders. They have two sons and a bicultural lifestyle in Santa Barbara and Spain.


  • “Incredible body of work! Stunning portraits! What a great idea!”
    Bill Black, photo consultant, former photo editor at Reader’s Digest

  • “Stupendous!”
    - Rosa Alvares, independent photo editor, former photo editor at Glamour Spain

  • “What a beautiful project!”
    - Sue Lapsien, US photo editor, Stern Germany

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