There’s a common theme in Diego Huerta‘s beautiful portraits of Mexico’s indigenous communities: curiosity. On more than one occasion, the Mexico-born and raised photographer has found himself intrigued by the customs and history of the people of Mexico – searching for answers even if it takes years or long, arduous trips.
“Sometimes you need to cross mountains, and lakes, walk day and night,” he wrote on Instagram about a photo he took on Pátzcuaro. “There are times that you spend all of your energy for one portrait. But at the end of the day, everything’s worth it.”
The Austin-based photographer now knows documenting the Raramuri requires a 15-hour drive to get to Sierra Tarahumara. But after four years of making the drive, he knows his way through the mountains, and he has formed a relationship with the community.
“I know how to talk with them even if we speak different languages,” he wrote.
Huerta began his photo project in 2011 when he launched 31 mil retratos por la paz. He originally planned to take photos of 31,000 men, women, and children all throughout his native country. Instead, he ended up focusing mostly on all corners of Oaxaca, according to NVI Noticias.
Many of his images are taken in the Istmo de Tehuantepec, which is where he first fell in love with Tehuanas. Before the Fiestas de Istmo – which take place in May – he had only seen typical Tehuana dress through Frida Kahlo’s images.
Recently, Instagram’s blog featured Huerta’s stunning images – but he considers gaining the trust of the indigenous communities he highlights as a more important achievement.
Late last year, Huerta shared a photo of Concepción, a Huichol woman, overlooking mountainous terrain. On a 41-degree day, he visited Wirikuta – knowing full well that the Huichol don’t typically visit at that time of the year. After traveling for three hours with his guide, Carlos, he came across Concepción. He showed her images he had taken of the other members of her community, and it got her to open up to him.
“She trusted me,” he wrote. “She even recognized some of the people I photographed. I asked her if I could photograph her, and she agreed.”
Sometimes, Huerta doesn’t offer too many details about his photographs, but regardless, they are always a peek into the lives of communities that are often overlooked. Check out a small collection of the stories he’s gathered below: