Portraits of Mestiza in Mexico, as They Wish to Be Seen

Citlali Fabian’s collaborative portraits of indigenous Oaxacan women and girls are both intimate and universal.



Adriana. CreditCitlali Fabian


Citlali Fabian grew up in Oaxaca, Mexico, immersed in her indigenous culture — and photography.

Her people, the Yalatec, have deep roots in Oaxaca, descending from the Zapotecs in the Sierra Juárez mountains. Ms. Fabian, at 29, cannot remember when cameras entered her life. Like her Zapotec traditions, they preceded her. Her father runs a photographic print shop, and she learned the mysteries of the darkroom at his knee, then filed them away as a teenager, lured by the possibilities of digital photography. But a love of the old processes called her back.

“Mestiza,” Ms. Fabian’s current portrait project, uses classic photographic techniques to celebrate an enduring civilization steeped in history.

The moody, chiaroscuro portraits of indigenous women and girls from Oaxaca, taken with large format cameras, are both intimate and universal. While indigenous Oaxacan culture is celebrated by photographers from all over the world, Ms. Fabian wanted to capture its power. She turned to subjects she knew would make arresting images: her mother, cousins, nieces, friends.


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