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Going Back

A Photographer, a Family, and the Borders in Between

Jaime, Angelica, Carlos, Pinto, Doobie, María, Carmelita, Alex. Mexico, 1994.

In the fall of 1993, in a village near the US–Mexico border, an American photographer named Annie met a Mexican woman named María. María was eight months pregnant at the time, and walking up a steep hill in the noon heat—with two young daughters at her side—to take lunch to her husband, Jaime. He was digging clay to make bricks. The girls had just found an empty sketchpad. Annie gave them her pencils. 

Because Annie was a photographer, she asked if she could take some photos. Because she felt drawn to María’s warmth—and to her family, and to the land where she lived—she asked if she could come back and take some more. María said yes. Annie ended up coming back more than twenty times over the course of the next twenty years. 

These were two decades of flea bites and bellyaches and fevers; two decades spent sleeping on floors and napping with babies and learning slingshot strategy from four-foot experts; two decades of road trips and plane flights and time off her day job; two decades of counseling María through two abusive relationships, taking her sons to street festivals, registering her kids for schools that said they had no room. These were two decades of finding the right moment, the right dusk light, the right gaze between mother and child; or else not finding the right moment, or not being sure, and releasing the shutter anyway. 

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