Family Matters is a project that was born while I was working with the families of the 43 students who disappeared last year from the rural Ayotzinapa teachers school in Guerrero, Mexico. I noticed that none of the families had any family photos; all they had were cell phone snaps, which were subject to accidental deletion or became lost when the cell phone was changed. Nobody printed pictures.
It struck me then that these people had lost their loved ones twice: they were denied a future with them, but they were also denied a past through a lack of photos. And who are we, without our memories? After that, I began to take family portraits of other families in Guerrero, ones that hadn’t been directly affected by Ayotzinapa, but like them, had no family photos.
Perhaps our need for these pictures is rooted in our spiritual beliefs, in our conviction that life isn’t simply a series of physical impulses, which cease to have any meaning the minute they stop. So I set out to make family portraits and handed out the printed copies, right then and there.
Adriana Zehbrauskas is a Brazilian documentary photographer based in Mexico City. Her work is largely focused on issues related to migration, religion, and the violence resulting from the drug trade in Mexico.
She works mainly in Mexico, Central, and South America and contributes regularly to the The New York Times, UNICEF, BuzzFeed News, Bloomberg and The Washington Post, among others.