Graciela Iturbide is considered one of the world’s finest contemporary photographers. While studying cinematography at the Universidad Nacional Autónama de Mexico in 1969, she took a still photography class with Manuel Álvarez Bravo and then became his assistant for the next year and a half. In 1978, Iturbide was commissioned by the Ethnographic Archive of the National Indigenous Institute of Mexico to photograph Mexico’s indigenous population. Iturbide decided to document and record the way of life of the Seri Indians, a group of fishermen living a nomadic lifestyle in the Sonoran desert in northwest Mexico, along the border with Arizona. In 1979, she began her series on the culture of the Zapotecs of Juchitán—in particular the women—for which she received the Eugene Smith Award in 1987.
Her work, which fuses her interest in traditional culture with a contemporary vision that reveals the symbolic power of images, has gained her enormous recognition in Mexico and all over the world. She has been honored with many significant awards, including the prestigious Hasselblad Foundation Award. The Wittliff Collections owns more than 260 prints of her photographs.