BOBBY GUTIERREZ HAD NEVER entered our annual photo contest before this year. For the past decade, however, the Albuquerque professional glazier, artist, curator, radio host, and start-up business owner has pursued his passion for photography as one of his many side projects. A storyteller at heart, he often writes original poems or reflections to accompany his images of New Mexico’s diverse cultures, people, and traditions.
“I enjoy showcasing our community,” says Gutierrez, who earned first place in the People category for his photograph The Stare Down, featuring a boy on his lowrider bicycle during a cruise night in the Duke City’s Barelas neighborhood. “I want to tell the stories of our community and the people in it. We have all this beautiful culture throughout New Mexico.”
Gutierrez grew up with lowriders—at first watching his dad cruise, then helping to shine wheels on the weekends. He moved up to a lowrider bike that he cared for as a kid and eventually a vehicle of his own. He sees similarities in his current obsession: skateboards. Last fall, he curated a group exhibit, Sk8 or Die, at Albuquerque’s Secret Gallery, where he shows his work, and even founded the start-up 232 Skateboards. “They’re both forms of expression,” he says.
On the night he took the photo, beautifully detailed cars, motorcycles, and bikes lined Fourth Street. Gutierrez was crossing the road and noticed the young man on his bike, lit by many motorcycles. “He was unaffected by me and my camera,” he says.
It’s the kind of fleeting moment that Gutierrez strives for in his work—and that stood out to the judges. The competition is becoming more intense each year. Our 22nd annual contest drew more than 2,400 submissions from over 700 photographers—thanks, in part, to waived entry fees, in celebration of our 100th anniversary.
Gutierrez’s image is among my favorites because of its simplicity and all the complexities it conveys. His subject is somewhere between boy and man, part of a family and part of the crowd, not yet aware of what lies ahead but fully committed to it. “You see a hardness in him,” Gutierrez says. “He’s growing up. It’s not all fun and games now.”
Additionally, the picture helps capture a story of New Mexico and what it means to love this place. “I try to tell a story within a story,” Gutierrez adds, “so there’s many layers within a photo.”