A timeless picture

The moment happens and disappears, but the visual imprint is timeless. In the small town of San Isidro, Mexico, the afternoon sun's rays cast a specular light, heating the red dust below. Animals were taking shelter in the shade of a nearby barn. Villagers went about their tasks more slowly; the morning pace had shifted in deference to the heat.

A little girl and her aunt nestled on a stoop, not quite comforted by the shade. The woman was quiet, taking in the warmth of the afternoon. The child was restless, uncertain how to respond to the camera's gaze. In the first image I took, she was defiant, very much expressing her personality. But her aunt was looking away, and the composition was a bit awkward. Immediately I tried again, and another, archetypal scene emerged: This image was about youth and growing older, girlhood and womanhood, the relationship between a child and an elder.

It also evoked the perennial issues of poverty, beauty, childhood, and aging. I will let the viewer describe what he or she sees in the photograph, since we all bring our own stories to this classic scene. For me that is the essence of photography: to create an image in which we can see ourselves – our hopes expressed, ourselves defined.

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