The University of Arizona

Center for Creative Photography

Esther Born

Photographer Esther Born (United States, 1902–1987) documented numerous parts of Mexico during the 1930s. Her subjects included architecture, portraits, landscapes, countryside scenes, and busy market places, capturing a sense of the country’s colonial antiquity in areas such as Taxco and Cuernavaca. Born’s black-and-white prints have soft gray tones and tight compositions that fill the frame with captivating narratives. Born studied architecture at the University of California, Berkeley, in 1926 and married celebrated California architect Ernst Born. Her appreciation for architecture would heavily influence her subject matter; several of her photographs were published in architectural journals. New York gallery owner Ben M. Rabinovitch described her style, stating, “Whatever it is she’s photographing—her approach is always architectural.” Archived at the Center for Creative Photography are 76 prints from Born’s Picturesque Mexico series. Images of bullfights, flower markets, and the vast mountainous landscape expose audiences to Born’s visual journey through Mexico.