documenting worlds
photography by annie appel
film-based work *
Maria, Carmelita, Alex
Maria, Jaime, Annie
Maria, Jaime, Carmelita,Jaime's mother, Pinto
Doña Lupe
Doña Lupe and grandchildren
Andres, Angélica, Carmelita
Doña Lupe, Angélica, Alex, Marta
Angélica, Alex, Lupe
Carmelita, Carlos, Alex, Maria
Cristina, Brian, Armando Jr, Armando
Armando, Armando Jr, Brian
The project began with a chance encounter. In
summer 1994, while traveling in Baja, Mexico, I
met María. Eight months pregnant and
accompanied by two young daughters, she was
trudging up a dirt road to take lunch to her
husband. I offered water and drawing pencils.
In exchange, they invited me to join them. The
family lived in a two-room, adobe house that
Jaime, Maria's husband, had built of bricks he
made from local clay. I believed they had a more
immediate kind of life than I did. Their humanity
seemed more raw than what I knew. I promised
myself to document their world for a decade.
That commitment stretched to two decades.
During my 23 visits, spaced according to my
resources, my cameras and journals tracked life
transitions. I imagined the outcome as a simple,
yet universal, story: One family, their war on
poverty, and the broad devastation wrought by
generations of illiteracy. The work shifted over
time to include a tale of friendship, trust, and
how strangers become family