María Esme del Río  


Artist Bio:

I’m a Mexican immigrant. My single mom came to the states from central Mexico when I was 3 years old with my brother and me. We grew up in Santa Fe, New Mexico.  Being the first in my family to graduate from college I escaped the Southwest desert and moved to the California coast to attend UC Santa Cruz. I majored in Latin American Studies and took photo classes on the side, losing myself in the darkroom. After college I began working in social work while also interning and assisting for local photographers. I interned and assisted for 9 years, too intimated to acknowledge myself as skilled in photography.  Until just over four years ago when I decided to quit my job, and pursue photography full time. My work began to shift to more fashion centered as I found it allowed me to create stories and collaborate with others. My culture, background, and social awareness greatly influence my photography. I am inspired by the feminine strength, heritage, and one’s history.



o   University of California at Santa Cruz, BA Latin American Studies, Inducted into Phi Beta Kappa 2006

o   Continuing education in photography: Cabrillo College, City College of San Francisco

2008 - 2014



o   Photography assistant – Patrick Trefz, Alex Farnum, Annie Leibovitz  2006 – 2014

o   Freelance photographer 2014 – present



o   MOPLA “Instagram Jam” group show presented by Lucie Foundation

The Line hotel, Los Angeles CA, April 2018

o   “Moon Landing”

Primary exhibitor and fundraiser for San Francisco Women’s Health Clinic

Factory 1000, San Francisco CA, June 2016

o   “Inadequate Tools”

Gallery Obscura, San Francisco City College, San Francisco CA 2011


Awards & Contests

o   Authority Collective “Lit List” winner – 30 photographers to watch 2018

o   MOPLA “Instagram Jam” presented by Lucie Foundation group contest winner 2018

o   PDN’s “The Look” grand prize winner 2016

o   Photographer’s Forum, Annual College Photography Contest finalist 2012

o   Cherkis Photography Scholarship winner 2010


Speaking Engagements

o   Brightside Collective – Women in Small Entrepreneurship panelist speaker 2018