The story of a place is written in the faces of its inhabitants. Native Americans have lived in and around the area that is now Santa Fe, New Mexico, for millennia. The Spanish settled here 400 years ago, naming the town, and others of European ancestry took over the territory in the Mexican-American war 165 years ago. Building on these three roots, Santa Fe’s ethnic and cultural diversity has continued to grow. This project is an attempt to capture a moment in this rich history in photographic portraits of interesting individuals who live and work in the city or nearby.

Relentless pressure by the shortsighted and greedy for private development of the public domain continues. . . We are becoming more and more dependent on the artificial as a substitute for the natural in the world we cherish. 
Elliot Porter, 1988

Humans of every culture seek out natural beauty for repose, recreation, and visual gratification.  At the same time, we continue to encroach on the areas that provide these things for us, and to use up the resources that these beautiful areas provide.  As we do so, we have also learned to "tune-out" the visual consequences of our activities.  We hardly see even the major manifestations such as sprawling suburbs and mountains of scraped and moved earth, let alone the more subtle things like the ever present power lines, roads and billboards that have come to define our landscape.

This photographic project explores the interface between the developed landscape and the small areas of relatively undeveloped beauty that remain in New Mexico, the Land of Enchantment.   The goal of this project is to focus attention on the destructive nature of these changes with the hope of contributing to the continuing but thus far only marginally successful efforts to curb them.

Two images from this project were included in the exhibition
Through the Lens: Creating Santa Fe curated by Mary Anne Redding and Krista Elrick.  The exhibition, commemorating the 400th anniversary of Santa Fe, was on display in the Palace of the Governors, New Mexico History Museum, Santa Fe, in 2009 and has been published in the exhibition catalog by the Museum of New Mexico Press.  See:


Empire building, with its attendant nationalism and aggrandizement, is an age-old human activity. Throughout history, successive empires have thrived and then collapsed, leaving behind the monuments that were meant to convey everlasting power, but instead are testimony to their inherently transient nature.

They taught us to respect the church,
not to cough, not to spit in the atrium,
not to wash our clothes upon the altar,
but it’s not so; life tears apart religions,
and on this island the Wind God inhabits
the only church living and true:
our lives come and go, dying, making love:
here on Easter Island where everything is altar,
where everything is a workroom for the unknown,
a woman nurses her newborn
upon the same steps that her gods tread.

Pablo Neruda, 
Men IX

In this project, I have photographed houses of worship, then combined each image with another in order to highlight the relationship of the buildings to their surrounding landscape, community, or historical context.  Some montages emphasize the relationships, both complementary and contrasting, between constructed and natural forms. Others are weighted towards socio-political or historical commentary. In our current instant of time, when our political and economic struggles are again taking the form of religious strife, it would be well to remember that although religion is among the most ancient of human constructs, its diverse manifestations, including its edifices, are transient and ever-changing.

A boxed portfolio of 16 images from this series is available at Box Set Gallery, Santa Fe.


Images in the Santa Fe Faces portfolio were captured digitally.  All of the other images were recorded on film with either 35mm or medium format (6x7cm) cameras.  I then made high resolution scans of the film and processed the resulting digital images with techniques that could be accomplished by traditional photographic methods, including color correction, burning and dodging. Only the images of the Everything is Altar series are montages.  They were constructed digitally with techniques analogous to masking and double exposure in traditional photography. Images are printed digitally on museum grade acid free paper with archival pigment inks, finished with a protective coating for added scratch and UV resistance, and over-matted in archival four-ply mats.