Global Lens Reflections on life, the universe, and everything

Dying of thirst

Sarah Parker (left) of Redlands, California, and Ros Ruiz, of Oakland, California, hike through the desert of southern Arizona in order to place water for migrants crossing from Mexico into the United States. They are members of No More Deaths, a group dedicated to stopping the deaths of migrants along the border.

No More Deaths is a humanitarian group that organizes volunteers to place water in the desert along the U.S.-Mexico border, water that frequently keeps migrants traversing the desert from dying. They place gallon jugs of water along migrant paths, carefully monitoring what gets used and what doesn't so they can shift water to where it's needed. They often also assist migrants they encounter with first aid and food. In 2009 I traveled to southern Arizona to cover their work as part of a story about church-related work along the border. I camped with the group in the desert and went on a patrol with some of them the next morning. In this image, Sarah Parker (left) of Redlands, California, and Ros Ruiz, of Oakland, California, hike with water jugs. I wanted to show the volunteers in the context of the hot sun (which made me drink all my water in the first 30 minutes, so soon I was so thirsty I was ready for the Border Patrol to come grab me), so I kept running ahead of them, crouching down in the sand beside the trail (after a quick scan for snakes and other unfriendly critters), and shooting up at them as they walked past. The deep blue sky makes for a more dramatic image. Shooting into the sun inevitably produces lens flare (as well as spots from where I hadn't cleaned my lens sufficiently), and the low angle and wide lens (14-24mm zoom shot at 14mm) makes their legs inordinantly long compared to their torsos and heads, but it nonetheless works. At the end of the day, sometimes a technically inadequate photo can be much more compelling than a perfectly shot one.

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