Scanning life through his lens, photographer Héctor Gabino captured South Florida's everyday events in his images for more than two decades. And he did it with a unique eye and an almost lyrical style.
Just as his photos and videos recorded local history for el Nuevo Herald and the Miami Herald, they now mark his colleagues' memories of the visual poet who took them.
Gabino died Saturday in Miami at the age of 51, after a battle with cancer that he fought with the same optimism and strong will that were characteristic of his personality.
“Hector filled our lives with adventure, love and laughter,” said his wife, Cynthia Corzo. “He always had a great relationship with his daughter Gabriella. He taught her to swim, and they played jokes and tricks on each other. He loved to cook and discover new recipes. One of his most famous dishes are the ‘Gabo Burgers.’”
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Corzo fell in love with Gabino when she was a reporter for el Nuevo Herald in the 1990s. “His smile got to me from the first day, and together we created a wonderful family and beautiful memories,” she said.
In his work, Corzo added, “his talent transcended daily events, and he captured the human side of tragedies with images that touched the heart. He always followed his heart. And despite all the changes in digital technology and the new platforms, he knew how to use his talent to modernize while maintaining his passion.”
Born in Puerto Rico, Gabino studied at the Universidad del Sagrado Corazón and worked for the island's El Mundo newspaper.
He joined el Nuevo Herald in 1994 and covered many of the major events that shook South Florida, such as the Cuban rafter crisis of 1994, the fight over Elián Gonzalez in 2000 and the 2010 Haiti earthquake. He also traveled to Cuba undercover to report on a series on child sex tourism published by el Nuevo Herald and the Toronto Star.
But his most distinctive photos came from the sports events he covered, documenting the victories and defeats of the Miami Dolphins, the Miami Heat and the Miami Marlins down to the finest details.
The news of his death cast a shadow over el Nuevo Herald's newsroom, where colleagues respected his work and loved his personality.
Photo and video editor Orlando Mellado described him as “a tireless worker, a selfless teammate, a good friend and a wonderful all-around, award-winning photographer with an uncanny feel for breaking news and sports photography.”
“He was always happy. He was an excellent colleague, and as a photographer he had a passionate eye that brought prizes to his photos and videos,” Executive Editor Myriam Marquez said.
“He did a spectacular job capturing life in our city,” Marquez said. “He loved to cover sports, but he also excelled at breaking news.”
Gabino is survived by his wife and daughter. Funeral services will be this Thursday, March 2 from 8-11 p.m. at Memorial Park Funeral Home, 9800 SW 24 St.