The year 2014 seemed to involve a string of amazing photo shoots and travels. For me the real highlight was settling into my new home in Tucson and reconnecting to the landscape and people around the South West. Looking back over the year I discovered there were many occasions where conversations and ensuing connections with people led me down creative roads I might not have otherwise explored.
I'll share one of those encounters. A magazine assignment for Arizona Highways sent me to Mexico to photograph scientist Fransisco Zamorra who works for the conservation group the Sonoran Institute. In the course of the shoot Fransisco, who is also an avid wildlife photographer, introduced me to the Colorado
River Delta restoration project that he directs and has been working on for the past ten years. This restoration effort, he explained, has involved many collaborations including with the Mexican and American governments who recently signed a treaty allowing for water to be released back into the river system for river restoration purposes. But what really hit a cord with me was when Fransisco told me about the local community involvement and their renewed connection to the river. He explained that the people from the nearby village of Francisco Murguia are the main work force for the Laguna Grande project. Besides planting trees they also monitor ground water levels, record wildlife sightings and monitor the general health of the restoration site. It turns out this kind of community approach is the hallmark for Sonoran Institute projects.
When the magazine assignment was over Fransisco and I stayed in email contact and continued our discussion about his project and photography in general. Francisco's passion about the community involvement in his Delta project got me to thinking about how I might illustrate that idea into photos. Eventually we agreed to make some of these ideas into images. In November 2014 Francisco, my photo assistant Dawn Kish, and I returned to Mexico with a truck load of camera gear for two intense days of photography at the Laguna Grande site this time on a shoot specifically for the Sonoran Institute.
For two days I was immersed in photographing the activities around the restoration site. What I was looking for was the peoples connection to the landscape. I finished the the last day with a series of portraits using a pop up studio I fashioned under a palapa.These portraits are the faces of the community that are reconnecting to a river system that has been dead for 25 years.
In 2015 I will reconnect with Mexico again, in February to do more photography for the Sonoran Institute.