CULTURE

Rafael Rios Began Photographing His Own Family at 14


Rafael Rios

The photographer Rafael Rios may be best known for his fashion shoots and celebrity portraiture, but for his debut book, Family, available now from Baque Creative Press, he explores the earliest obsessions of his lens: his own family. Rios, who grew up in Brooklyn in a Puerto Rican family that shared a town house, chose to focus his book on an eight-year time span, chronicling his own development as a photographer. The earliest work in the book was shot in 1999, when Rios was a 14-year-old armed with a camera his mother had purchased for him at a Flatbush pawn ship. The most recent are from 2006, when Rios was studying his craft in college. “By the end of the book I want readers to feel like family, like they’ve just looked through a photo album of their own,” Rios said in a release. “I want them to see themselves and their families in mine. I want this book to convey that there is beauty in everyday life, places, and spaces and sometimes the simplest moments captured between family not only end up being the most important but also shape who we become.” And while the themes are universal, the work also captures the intimate realities of the Latin American experience and the Nuyorican family. Here, in celebration of Mother’s Day, selections from the book highlighting the matriarchal figures in Rios’s own family.

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Rafael Rios

Grandma and The Last Supper. Photograph courtesy of Rafael Rios.

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Mari and Grandma hanging out. Photograph courtesy of Rafael Rios.

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Camille watching Serial Mom. Photograph courtesy of Rafael Rios.

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Mari doing Armani’s hair. Photograph courtesy of Rafael Rios.

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Grandma eating cake. Photograph courtesy of Rafael Rios.

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Mimi. Photograph courtesy of Rafael Rios.

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Mari and Camille on the bed. Photograph courtesy of Rafael Rios.

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Kathy and Elyssia. Photograph courtesy of Rafael Rios.

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Isaac and Jenny. Photograph courtesy of Rafael Rios.

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Iris at Disney World. Photograph courtesy of Rafael Rios.

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Krystal and Camille. Photograph courtesy of Rafael Rios.

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Iris sunbathing. Photograph courtesy of Rafael Rios.

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Mari in the living room. Photograph courtesy of Rafael Rios.

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Mom on the phone. Photograph courtesy of Rafael Rios.

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Mari napping in PR. Photograph courtesy of Rafael Rios.

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Grandma modeling. Photograph courtesy of Rafael Rios.

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Camille in bed. Photograph courtesy of Rafael Rios.

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Grandma laughing. Photograph courtesy of Rafael Rios.

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Mimi watching basketball. Photograph courtesy of Rafael Rios.

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Carmen doing Krystal’s hair. Photograph courtesy of Rafael Rios.