For photographer Maria del Rio, 31, living and working her magic for design luminaries in San Francisco has been a dream come true.
The Mexico-born, New Mexico-raised free spirit bought a one-way ticket for the West Coast the day after she graduated high school (“growing up, I always wanted to live in California”); a career in social work followed, during which she honed photography skills on the side.
She dove into photography full time in 2010 and quickly nabbed a list of serious clients—Refinery29, Everlane, H&M, and It’s-It Ice Cream among them. Drawing from the deserts of her childhood and Mexican artists and photographers for inspiration, del Rio, who shoots out of the Emeryville studio Lola Creative, integrates her commitment to her community with her work whenever possible, often casting models of color and celebrating different cultures in her work.
“Strong women, passionate people—I’m constantly meeting people who inspire me,” says the Excelsior resident, who can be spotted making the rounds at local shops in her uniform of vintage rompers and Freda Salvador boots. What’s next? An annual girls’ road trip to recharge before the next big wave of projects. You can be sure she’s bringing her camera.
I’d love to shoot Solange, Malala Yousafzai, Laverne Cox…All three are super different from each other, but so cool and inspiring in their own ways.
When I was younger, I didn’t know any women, much less women of color, who were photographers, so I assumed photography was a profession that wasn’t obtainable for me. Now I know there were so many incredible female photographers, just less talked about. It’s so critical that young people have role models who represent some part of their identity.
Sza, Leon Bridges, Blood Orange, Santigold—lots of ’90s hip hop. My editing music (moody, brooding) is different from my shooting music (upbeat indie), which is different from my hanging out music (rap).
Adobe Books in the Mission. I can get lost in there.
Treat yo’ self
El Farolito, Salumeria, Outerlands, Yamo, Lavash, Sol Food
Preferred watering hole
Anywhere I can get a good mescal, spicy margarita, or Moscow mule!
One word to describe the Bay Area