Our Lives Here Are Good

Why is it we so often fail to “see” when we look at the world around us? I first “saw” Manuel as any adult would: a wide eyed, young boy of 17, alone in a foreign country without family, without money, and without a grasp of the English language.

The sheer vulnerability of this boy bothered me for many reasons. So, I took Manuel under my wing and, ironically, he eventually took me under his wing as well. I was captivated by how positive he was, how optimistic. After all, he was making so much more than the two dollars a day he had been earning as a field laborer since the age of eight.

That was in 1988. Over the years we have become a big family, helping each other through the many challenges in life.

Jim and I started photographing the family seriously in 2011 as cultural prejudice against this population escalated.

Since portrait photography is an inherent collaboration between photographer and model, it was this special friendship that provided the trust that allowed us to document Manuel and Narcisa’s well-guarded, private world living on the edge of our community.

We have always known that higher awareness leads to better understanding and acceptance in our world. We hope that the imagery and the eloquent voices of this family will open eyes and lessen fears of all the struggling families that live in the shadows of our society.