Native American Dancer
Photograph by Francisco Velande
In October 2008, high schoolers from Taos High School and the Taos Pueblo attended a National Geographic Photo Camp in Taos, New Mexico, conducted in partnership with the Blackstone Ranch Institute.
For four days, the students explored the unique Southwest environment, while National Geographic photographers and editors mentored them in photography and writing. The students documented their experiences—as seen in this gallery.
The natural world, the world of peace. I was taught we belong to the Earth.
Making the most of the day.
Being thankful for each breath.
I hear the one who has taught me everything speak.
He is all-wise. The many wrinkles in his skin stand for all the knowledge he’s seen through his eyes. I love him, because he taught me to love Mother Earth and Father Sky. He is the true definition of a man who has done all he can for his people.
I respect this man.
This man is my grandfather.
—Photo Camp participant Francisco Velande
Fence and Clouds
Photograph by Patrick Archuleta
"My personal connection with Mother Earth is when I go hunting. Hunting up on Taos Pueblo Mountain is awesome. It’s like going into a sanctuary."—Photo Camp participant Patrick Archuleta
Hands Holding a Candle
Photograph by Winona Winters
"What is my connection with nature? I’m not really sure. I like nature. I enjoy being outside. In a way, I see nature like a place I can escape to. A place where I can find peace.
"It’s also a place I can sometimes think about who I am and where I came from. Sometimes when I’m in the mountains behind the Pueblo, I think about how my ancestors have been to the same places I have. And also how lucky my people are to have a beautiful 'backyard' that we can use for our ceremonies and for our lives."—Photo Camp participant Winona Winters
Yellow Aspen Leaves
Photograph by Jessica Esch
At Garcia Park, bright yellow leaves from an aspen tree pop against a deep blue sky in the mountains of Taos, New Mexico.
Red Leaf, Taos
Photograph by Robyn Martinez
Back-lit by the sun, green veins punctuate a red autumn leaf.
Craftsman Portrait, Taos
Photograph by Lacy Trujillo
Light and shadow play on the face of a craftsman from Taos Pueblo, New Mexico.
Pueblo Building Seen Through Grass
Photograph by Chuck Marcus
Grasses frame a building in the Taos Pueblo.
Grasshopper on Pavement
Photograph by Krisana Hall
A grasshopper stands out against textured pavement in this close-up shot.
Aspen Trees, Taos
Photograph by Josie Heino
"I have a different view of nature after this experience. I used to look out my window and just thought of it as no big deal. Just another average backyard. But after coming to Photo Camp, it made me open my eyes to the natural beauty that surrounds me.
"Nature is part of life. And capturing the beauty thorough a photograph is truly outstanding."—Photo Camp participant Josie Heino
Photograph by Emma Smith
Turquoise shop doors frame a view of Taos Pueblo’s main plaza.
Leaves on a Glass Roof
Photograph by Emma McCollum
"Racism is everywhere. Even in this tightly knit community. I was one of the kids who was picked on, and the bullies were never white like me. I had no idea what they had against me. Because of this, I kept to myself. I was quiet and I was always out in the woods exploring by myself.
"I found I had a natural sense of direction when I was in the wilderness. There were so many beautiful things to see, and eventually I picked up a camera to record what I found. I found that the arts (writing, photography, drawing) were a way of escaping, a way of being free. I was lucky to have found nature while other teenagers found other means of escape, like drugs, alcohol, and partying."—Photo Camp participant Emma McCollum
Man and Ladder
Photograph by Jasmine Peralta
Photographer Lenny Foster, part of the Photo Camp team, pauses against a pueblo building.
Man With Long Braid
Photograph by Ashley Gutierrez
A man's long braid sweeps down his back in the Taos Pueblo.
Children Playing, Taos Pueblo
Photograph by Kylee Martinez
"I used to think of nature as a part of life, something that was not very important to me. Now I know that nature is what makes life. I’m looking at nature now with a whole new perspective, through a new lens."—Photo Camp participant Kylee Martinez
Painter, Taos Pueblo
Photograph by Mariah Gomez
"Growing up in Taos, I’ve always been surrounded by a variety of people and involved in a diverse culture. The population here has three distinct dominant races. Because Anglos, Hispanics, and Native Americans share this beautiful space, we have developed a respect for the richness of variety.
"But yesterday at Taos Pueblo, I felt overwhelmed. I wanted to blend in to my surroundings, but it was harder than I realized. I learned so much visiting the Pueblo."—Photo Camp participant Mariah Gomez
Man Selling Chili Ristras
Photograph by Kyle Medina
A man sells handmade chili ristras, or lengths of hanging chilies, at a farmer’s market in the Taos Town Plaza.
Red Chili Peppers
Photograph by Laura Henry
Bright, bold red chili peppers surround a single green chili.
Taos High School Bleachers
Photograph by Marissa Romero
Bleachers mark the playing grounds of the Taos High School Tigers.
Mountains at Sunset, Taos
Photograph by Alicia Lucko
The sun sets over mountains in Taos, New Mexico.