2017 was a year of growth. It was heartbreaking and it was rewarding. My family said goodbye to my granddad and my cousin welcomed a baby girl into the world. We faced big challenges, but I’m so grateful that I had the chance to meet people and share stories all over the southwestern United States and northern Mexico. Thank you to my family, my partner, my friends and editors for your support this year. You mean the world to me. 

Some victories:
Having photos (until February 2018!) included in an exhibit at Museo Regional de Cholula in San Andés Cholula, Puebla, Mexico alongside my inspiring colleagues Griselda San Martin and Elaine Cromie.

Joining the Women Photograph initiative thanks to Daniella Zalcman’s fearless and tireless work. And having a photo of mine included in Women Photograph’s Insider/Outsider exhibition curated by Zalcman, Mallory Benedict and Sara Ickow at UPI’s Photoville in Brooklyn, NYC.

Collaborating with my friend and phenomenal writer Fernanda Santos on stories that helped show how national immigration policy reverberates in peoples real lives in Arizona. Our stories were published in English, Spanish and Portuguese in national and international publications.

Eric and I moved into an apartment in downtown Phoenix together in September. 

Getting to travel a lot. On assignment and during free time I got outside and visited Joshua Tree National Park, Grand Canyon National Park, Monument Valley Navajo Tribal Park, Canyon de Chelly National Monument and drove over 15,000 miles.

I read 18 books, the most I’ve ever read in a year!

And now, photographs of this years highs and lows. Thanks so much for looking.

A truck with a horse trailer drives through the elongating shadows Dec. 8 in Monument Valley on the Navajo Nation. For The New York Times

Resistance in Phoenix, Arizona

Feyisa Lelisa stretches before a training run Feb. 20 in Flagstaff, Ariz. where he has been training with a few elite North African athletes after a protest at the Rio Olympics made it impossible to return to Ethiopia. Lilesa trains at 6,909’ altitude in Flagstaff, which is just under 7,726′ in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. For ESPN

Kendrick Lamar for The New York Times

Deferred Action for Childhood Arivals recipients and allies pray and react after Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ announcement that the Trump administration was rescinding DACA in six months on Sept. 5, 2017 at the UFCW Local 99 in Phoenix, Ariz.

Migrants eat at a soup kitchen March 1 in Heroica Caborca, Mexico for The New York Times.

Aracely and Jazmin at Jazmin’s prom in Phoenix, Ariz.

Former Biological Resource Center intern Emily Glynn, 24, poses for a portrait at the Arizona State University Art Museum in Tempe, Arizona December 17, 2017. “Over the course of the internship, I stripped subcutaneous fat from the vertebrae of a cervical spine, practiced performing [incisions to the throat], sutured dismembered legs using an oversized needle and twine, and decapitated an elderly woman with what looked and sounded like a chainsaw from Home Depot,” Glynn wrote. “Not once did I receive formal training or instruction.”   For REUTERS

Guadalupe García de Rayos spends time with her son, Angel, 16, who is a U.S. citizen at the Hotel Fray Marcos on Feb. 9 in Nogales, Mex. She was arrested at a routine ICE appointment on Feb. 8 and deported to Nogales earlier in the day. For The New York Times

Savannah Cunningham stands for a portrait March 12 at EOS Fitness in Tempe, Ariz. Cunningham was targeted and harassed online after a nude photo she sent to a former boyfriend was posted and shared among Marines on social media. “I shared it with someone I loved and trusted,” she told me. Now she’s preparing to head to basic training on May 1. She enlisted three years ago with the Marines, originally pursuing an officer track. She changed paths and re-enlisted, this time with the intent to go to boot camp and gain the experience she believes will make her a better leader in the future.For The New York Times

Armin Walser at his home March 9 in Tucson, Ariz. Walser is a chemist who invented midazolam, which is a barbituate that was intended as a replacement for Valium. It has since been used in lethal injections during death penalty sentences, including a botched execution in 2014 in Arizona which led the state to vow to stop using the drug. For The New York Times

North Carolina Tar Heels student fans Alex Pritts and Ryan Herron, and other students  react to their team defeating the Oregon Ducks  during the Oregon vs. North Carolina game at the Final Four in the University of Phoenix Stadium, in Glendale Arizona. for ESPN

Chinle High School Basketball Team, Chinle, Navajo Nation

Elizabeth O’Hara graduates from Indiana University in May in Bloomington, Ind.

Runners compete during the Canyon de Chelly Ultra Marathon on Oct. 14 in Chinle, Ariz. The national monument is usually off limits to those who aren’t tribal members as it is one of the holiest sites on the Navajo Nation. For The New York Times

Aguíles del Desierto search and rescue crew mark off an area where human remains were found on May 27, 2017 in the Cabeza Prieta wilderness near Ajo, Arizona. For The Guardian Observer Magazine

Yandy headquarters on Aug. 31, 2017 in Phoenix, Ariz. for Cosmopolitan

Rana Sodhi, right, lost his brother in a hate crime in Sept. 2001. For BuzzFeed News.

Patrick Peterson for ESPN

Carletta Tilousi, a member of the Havasupai Tribal Council stands for a portrait Jan. 6 in Supai, Ariz. for The New York Times

Kathleen Muldoon helps her son Gideon Dobson, 3, stretch as he wakes up at their home on March 23 in Peoria, Ariz. Gideon was born with cytomegalovirus (CMV), a virus that is not harmful to healthy adults but can be dangerous when contracted during pregnancy. Gideon has spastic quadriplegic cerebral palsy, visual impairment due to brain damage, epilepsy, and microcephaly For NPR.

A migrant man runs to catch a ride on a commercial train from Central America north March 2 in Heroica Caborca, Mexico. Many of the injuries a migrant person faces on the journey are a result of La Bestia, The Beast.

Dia De Los Muertos in South Phoenix, Arizona

Anti-Trump protest in Phoenix, Arizona

Survivor of the Tucson mass shooting Patricia Maisch for The Huffington Post

Maria Cruz Ramirez, right, comforts Bertha Martinez in Phoenix, Arizona, U.S. August 25, 2017, after controversial former Arizona sheriff Joe Arpaio was pardoned by President Trump. For REUTERS

The Arizona One uranium mine near the Grand Canyon for The New York Times

A woman who asked to be identified by her initials, X.C., stands for a portrait at Tahirih Justice Center in Houston, a non-profit group that provides legal services and advocacy for immigrant women and girls fleeing violence. She is a survivor of rape and trafficking while seeking asylum in the United States from El Salvador where she was fleeing gang violence. in 2017 she was granted a T-Visa, for victims of trafficking and has temporary legal status.

March for Truth: Phoenix

The March for Truth: Phoenix on June 03, 2017 in Paradise Valley Park was part of a nationwide campaign for people to organize to show elected officials that citizens demand to see President Trump’s tax returns, an independent investigation into the Russian meddling in the 2017 election and answers about his business ties to foreign leaders. The march in Phoenix took place as the sun was setting on a day where the high temperature was 108f. The gathering was organized by Indivisible Arizona, part of the Indivisible national campaign to contact elected officials and organize communities in protest against President Trump. 

Migrants in Caborca, Mexico

At the beginning of the month, I traveled to Caborca, Méx. with Fernanda Santos to document migrants who were on the journey of their lives as they escaped violence and hunger in their home countries. This was one of the most difficult assignments I’ve worked on. Watching people risk life and limb for an opportunity to get to the U.S., later to be told by their loved ones about POTUS’s plans to make it more difficult for people without special skills or a lot of money to immigrate. They understand that if they ever reach the U.S. they’ll encounter 10,000 more CBP agents, increased ICE activity and xenophobia from the citizenry.

We spent a few days at the Pueblo Sin Fronteras shelters for migrants in Sonoyta and Caborca. We also saw people riding and running to catch La Bestia—a commercial train that runs from Central America to Mexicali and which many migrants ride, despite its reputation for danger and death.

Most of the people I got to speak with were from Honduras. There were also a few men from El Salvador and Guatemala. There was one woman at the shelter when I was there. She didn’t want to be photographed so we just talked. She told me of the horrors of the migration north—especially for women, who are often raped and abused as they try to find a better life for themselves. It planted the bug in me to return to tell their story some day. 

When asked if they could have “done it legally” many people told me with a wistful look that if they had that money they would have used it to feed their families. They have nothing but the desire for a better life for their loved ones and themselves, and that’s why they are attempting this life-threatening trip. Thanks for looking

And here is the pdf of the photos in print! We got a color page for this, which is always exciting. 

2017: f e b r u a r y

Here are some pictures from assignments and stories from February. I got to travel through a lot of Arizona for stories —from the northern Four Corners region where Arizona, Colorado, New Mexico and Utah meet down to the border of Arizona and Sonora, Mexico.

First, a story for The New York Times sports section about the basketball team at Chinle High School on the Navajo Nation. I was afforded the opportunity and support to spend a few days at the end of January and beginning of February working with the team and their families.

Then, for The Wall Street Journal, daily coverage of national news. On Feb. 3, Yosan, an Eritrean refugee woman resettled in Phoenix. This was the first day she moved into her apartment. Photos made for The Wall Street Journal as part of a bigger story about her arrival along with three other refugees. 

My next assignment was really difficult. I worked with Fernanda Santos to document the deportation of Guadalupe García de Rayos for The New York Times. She went in for an ICE check-in and was subsequently deported, making her the first undocumented person who was deemed “not a threat” to be expelled under President Trump’s new criteria for deportations outlined in a new Executive Order. I photographed a protest outside her ICE hearing and then followed her American citizen children down to Nogales, Sonora, Mexico where they reunited with their mom for the night and tried to figure out their next steps. 

There were a few other assignments that haven’t been published yet, so I’ll leave those off for now. Thanks for looking, friends.

2017: j a n u a r y

2017 began in a busy way. I’m very grateful for the stories I’ve been able to dig into so far. 

The first story of the year was documenting The Ohio State Marching Band’s journey to the Fiesta Bowl in Phoenix. ESPN asked photographer Michael F. McElroy to begin with the band in Columbus, Oh., and I took over when they touched town in Arizona. I got to spend a day with them hiking in Sedona before a week of grueling rehearsals, performances and parades. They snuck a lot of fun in there, too. I’m thankful for the band allowing me the access, and to ESPN for allowing me the time to get this right. Check out our finished piece, here — I even dusted off my reporter’s hat and wrote the intro.

My next assignment was a lesson in breaking news. From the story reported by Fernanda Santos for the New York Times: Nina Chaubal and her wife, Greta Martela, who run TransLifeline, which is a suicide hotline for transgender people,  “thought about going through the Rocky Mountains on their way to Chicago from San Diego late last month, but did not want to risk getting caught in a snowstorm. So they drove south through Arizona, where Ms. Chaubal, an Indian national with an invalid work visa, fell into the hands of the Border Patrol.” Fernanda’s story goes on to talk about the added fear of harassment and lack of medical care that trans women face when they’re detained and held by ICE or CBP.  We got word of Nina’s release and I drove to meet her and Greta as they reunited and made their way home after the ordeal. 

Fernanda Santos and I worked on another story together for my next assignment. We flew in a helicopter to the bottom of the Grand Canyon to Supai Village, the remote and beautiful home to the Havasupai people. There we reported on the school, Havasupai Elementary. From Fernanda’s reporting: “In the most recent evaluation made public, they tested at the first and third percentile, well below every other school on Indian reservations, already among the worst in the country. The abysmal test scores are highlighted in a federal lawsuit filed this month against the government by members of the Havasupai Tribe on behalf of nine students at the school. The tribe, a dwindling nation of 730, says the United States has reneged on its legal duty to educate their children by, among other things, allowing a janitor and a secretary to fill in for absent teachers, and by failing to provide special-education services and enough books for all students.” Read the entire piece here. 

Later in the month I continued working with Ebony and her three boys on a personal project that I haven’t shared a lot of images from yet. I’ll write more about this later :). For now I have a lot more photos to make.

At the end of January, I photographed the Womens March in Phoenix and other responses to the Inauguration and the first policies of Donald Trump, including his executive orders on immigration enforcement and refugees. 

This year sure looks like it will be interesting. I hope you’ll follow along.


There’s been a lot written about this year already, so i’ll stick to photos and captions. Links to stories of the talented writers I collaborated with are included when available. Keep learning and working hard, friends. Thanks for looking. 

Dalia Luque hugs her dad Rafael as she gets ready to cross back into Arizona from Nogales, Sonora, Mexico on Sept. 4. Rafael was deported in 2009 and Dalia hadn’t seen him in two years. ”I don’t need anything, I just wanted to see you,” Dalia told him. She left with a few new pairs of sandals and clothes for her twin younger brothers. More: http://nyti.ms/2ehruwh

Protestors and a Trump supporter clash outside a Donald J. Trump rally in which he outlined his immigration policy Aug. 31 at the Phoenix Convention Center in Phoenix, Ariz.

Photo caption: “These stories are like a password. You tell yours to another woman, and they have one to share, too.” Kate Watters on June 20 at Oak Creek Vista between Sedona and Flagstaff, Ariz. Watters was sexually harassed while she worked for the National Parks Service at the Grand Canyon River District between 1997 and 2007. After reporting the initial incident in 2005, she was violently threatened verbally and physically by colleagues and her report was repeatedly trivialized and dismissed. “If telling our story and bringing it out into the open in a visible way gives someone else the courage to come forward, it will be worth it. Courage is hard to find. Shame is a powerful tool of suppressing our voices,” she told me.

Siblings Johnny, 8, and Aubrey, 6, play with toy guns during Vigilante Days on Feb. 13 in Tombstone, Ariz. More: http://www.nytimes.com/2016/02/15/us/guns-blazing-tombstone-is-back-to-its-past.html

An unaccompanied 15-year-old from El Salvador in his new bedroom Aug. 11 in his uncle’s home in Tucson, Ariz. He arrived in the U.S. via Texas in April and is currently petitioning for asylum in Arizona after fleeing gang violence back home that killed his father.  Read more: nyti.ms/2bvSx9B

Eric Burak, Sean Christiansen, Wayne Bewley, Bob Garvin and Clark Close settle their sore bodies into a 55 degree Fahrenheit ice tub after a long day of Dave Henderson Fantasy Camp on Jan. 17 in Mesa, Ariz.  More: http://www.espn.com/espn/feature/story/_/id/14705162/for-love-hendu

Phoenix celebrated the first official Indigenous Peoples’ Day in replacement of Columbus Day at Puente Human Rights Movement on Oct. 10.

My sister, Elizabeth O’Hara, from a trip to visit our family in Yorkshire in September.

Marie Antwanette and Nayanna Washington, 7, singing “Alright” by Kendrick Lamar during a protest against police shootings July 8 in Phoenix.

Danza Azteca Chichimeca Tezcatlipoca performs a peace dance outside a Donald Trump rally Aug. 31 in Phoenix, Ariz.

Josephine Lee of Los Angeles at FORM: Arcosanti on May 14 in Arcosanti, Ariz.  Read more: http://www.nytimes.com/2016/05/17/arts/music/form-arcosanti-festival-skrillex.html

Garand Aro, who was resettled as a refugee from South Sudan in Phoenix ten years ago, voted for the first time Nov. 8 at the Salvation Army in downtown Phoenix, Ariz.  Read more: http://www.nytimes.com/2016/11/09/us/politics/election-exit-polls.html

Aracely Nuñez and her sister Jazmin, 16, Oct. 1 in Phoenix, Ariz. Aracely wanted to go to university and study law but her DACA status disqualifies her from in-state tuition or scholarships. She has passed that information to Jazmin, who is a U.S. citizen. “There’s this whole idea that this is the country where you can come to and you can do anything. But then you get here and you can’t.ore: http://nyti.ms/2ehruwhIf you don’t know the right people, if you don’t have the right documentation, you can’t really do anything other than live paycheck to paycheck. And that’s how I’m living.”More: http://nyti.ms/2ehruwh

From Eric and my trip to southern Indiana for a family reunion of his.

A Donald Trump supporter dressed as Trump on the front and Democratic Presidential hopeful Hillary Clinton as a zombie on his back at the Phoenix Convention Center before a Donald J. Trump rally on Saturday, Oct. 29 in Phoenix, Ariz.

Abril Gallardo, community organizer and communications team member of the Bazta Arpaio campaign, on Nov. 1 in Phoenix, Ariz. On being an undocumented immigrant to the U.S., Abril said: “I feel empowered by my role in the community and proud of the work I’ve done.”  Read more: http://epoca.globo.com/mundo/noticia/2016/11/arizona-nunca-mais.html

A giant desert hairy scorpion glows under UV light April 21 at a home in Scottsdale, Ariz. Scientists aren’t completely sure why scorpions’ exoskeletons glow, but it’s helpful for homeowners in the desert.  More: http://nyti.ms/1NWYPYW

Hundreds of students from Maryvale High School and North High School walked out of class to encourage people to vote against incumbant Maricopa Sheriff Joe Arpaio on Nov. 8 in central Phoenix, Ariz. In October 2016, Arpaio was federally charged with criminal contempt after he ignored a judge’s 2011 ruling that his immigration patrols were illegal and descriminatory. He lost the election to Paul Penzone.

Indigenous Peoples Day — Phoenix, Arizona

October 10th in Phoenix is now officially Indigenous Peoples Day instead of the federally recognized Columbus Day. Native and indigenous people from around the state gathered at Puente Human Rights Movement in Phoenix to share stories, songs, poems, food, traditions and just get together and have a great time. There was also much said in solidarity with the protests against the copper mine at sacred Oak Flat, against the Dakota Access Pipeline, and against the further development of the Loop 202 freeway in south Phoenix that would cut through South Mountain—which is a sacred site. I felt so lucky to document this event, and I’m glad to share some scenes and portraits. 

Yorkshire (September 2016)

A collection from a September 2016 trip to visit family and friends in the northern U.K., including the Yorkshire cities Hartshead, Howarth, York and Huddersfield—and one day in Lancashire in Liverpool. Visiting family in this case also meant seeing my parents and sister for the first time in months (even though they live on the other side of the U.S.) and introducing my partner Eric to my aunts, uncles, cousins and chosen family in the U.K. for the first time after five years together. (It went so well, and so many laughs were had. My little cousin even told me he approves.)

I settled on this edit after three weeks of anxiously processing. Most of the family photos are omitted and instead this focuses on the little scenes and landscapes that make me feel full of Yorkshire. 99% of spending time with family was healing and beautiful and much needed refuge from the heat and stress. We went on long walks, danced and drank and tried to cram years into a few days. Small hints of nostalgia and guilt haunt my visits. I love these people and places so much, and I wish I was there for them full-time. Saying goodbye sucks.

Also very present was the fact that my aunt, cousins and mom were in the middle of the process of moving my grandad into a hospice and out of his home. I documented this process and out of respect for him and my mom and family, I’m not ready to publish those. 

Anyway, thanks for looking. Love to everyone.

Phoenix pushes back against Trump’s visit

On the last day of August, I had the privilege of photographing the periphery of Donald Trump’s visit to Phoenix, Arizona to make a much-anticipated speech on immigration reform and border security in the United States. Many expected a pivot away from his previous plan to erect a concrete wall along our 2,000 mile shared border, but he ended up doubling down. Maricopa Sheriff Joe Arpaio, who has been recommended for federal charges for racially profiling Latinxs, gave remarks in favor of the candidate. 

But I didn’t have a credential for the inside show—I photographed Phoenix’s reaction to the circus being in town. For the most part, it was a huge Mexican dance party with loud mariachi music and traditional dancing. There were camps of angry protesters and giant balloons of Trump in a Klan robe and Arpaio in a jail uniform. There were Trump supporters carrying crosses a la Jesus. But my favorite thing I saw yesterday was a beautiful peace dance by Danza Azteca Chichimeca Tezcatlipoca. Check them out if you have a moment. I’ve linked their Facebook page. We all need a bit of peace right now.

Thanks for looking. 

From the hot months

How is it the end of July already!?

I’m now four months in to being a full-time independent photographer and coming up on the first anniversary of living in Arizona. It feels surreal to say that, and I’m feeling so grateful this is my job. New challenges abound, which has made room for growth. It still feels like there’s more that I don’t know I don’t know, especially about setting myself up as a business, but I’m moving forward and embracing each opportunity. When it feels like the phone will never ring again, it miraculously does. 

There are still a few assignments I’ve shot this summer that aren’t published so I can’t share everything, but here is a peek at what the summer has held for me so far (besides smoldering desert heat). 

I had the opportunity to visit the Grand Canyon Railroad’s Chief Mechanical Engineer, hear the tearful and frustrated reaction by Latinx/Latinx Americans after a SCOTUS deadlock in late June halting immigration reform, a northern Arizona gun club having tough conversations about when elders should retire their rifles, talk Minecraft with Arizona twins Kyle and Lauren Byrd who live with SMAprotests against police brutality (and the community meetings to move forward which you can see more of in earlier blog posts), visit the headquarters of TASER, Inc. to meet CEO Rick Smith, the end of the freeze on Arizona Kids Care, cover the heroes of the Tenderfoot Wildfire, meet two incredible (1) Olympians (2) and follow the Arizona GOP’s quest to woo border towns.

Thanks for looking, folks. 

All imagery © 2018 Caitlin O'Hara. All rights reserved. Not for use or publication without permission.
Using Format