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It was 1981 when Kevin Bubriski arrived in New Mexico to study at the Anthropology Film Center in Santa Fe. He arrived on a night in January and remembers the smell of fire smoke.

“It was really welcoming and just felt very comfortable and familiar,” he says. “And then my first morning, I woke up and there was this beautiful adobe structure.”

After some time, Bubriski branched out of his comfort zone at school and began exploring outside of Santa Fe, where he was introduced to the Chicano culture of New Mexico.

“It was Holy Thursday and I see this guy walking up the highway with a cross on his shoulder and that was one of my first introductions to the Hispanic culture of New Mexico,” the photographer says. “I’d done some drives and been to some of the little towns and found it really beautiful.”

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This intrigue and deep interest led Bubriski to begin photographing the community over the next two years. Now, these photographs are in a new book titled Look Into My Eyes: Nuevomexicanos por Vida. The photos are an intimate time capsule into the early 80s in New Mexico, with images ranging from children at a religious procession to an older couple dancing very close.

Bubriski, a former newspaper photographer who now resides in Vermont, says he often made copies of these photographs to give to his subjects. But he also gained a lot from them.

“What I learned is a real sense of friendliness and wanting to communicate,” he says. “I think when people look at the photos, they get a good feeling of the liveliness and the friendliness of the people in the photos. That endures.”

Bubriski, who posts photographs regularly on his Instagram, shared insight with Vivala about some of the most intriguing photos featured in his book.