Arts

Through the lens of a norteña

Nancy De Herrera Crochet pictures her spirit of place

By Anna Racicot
tempo@taosnews.com
Posted 11/7/18

Sometimes life has a way of bringing a person full circle in a most magical way, and so it has been for photographer Nancy De Herrera Crochet. Raised in Costilla, she began taking pictures of her …

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Arts

Through the lens of a norteña

Nancy De Herrera Crochet pictures her spirit of place

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Sometimes life has a way of bringing a person full circle in a most magical way, and so it has been for photographer Nancy De Herrera Crochet. Raised in Costilla, she began taking pictures of her surroundings as a girl with an Instamatic camera given to her by her parents, Val and Connie De Herrera.

"Since I was a little girl," De Herrera Crochet said, "I always loved skies, the skies in the morning and the stars at night."

De Herrera Crochet later became a registered medical assistant and moved away from Taos County. Much later, health concerns of her own led her to step back from the medical field, and she found herself here again immersed in photography. Two years ago she and her husband of 25 years, Steve Crochet, decided to move to the De Herrera ranch in Costilla. She now enjoys the sights she saw as a child.

"When I wake up in the morning, the first thing I see is the Blanca. Then La Yuta. And out of the front door, Los Pelados."

Not only does De Herrera Crochet enjoy the views of Mount Blanca, Ute Mountain, and the bald peaks of the Sangre de Cristo Range, but she revels in seeing in the wildlife on the ranch, the birds and the elk.

For years, photographing the natural beauty she saw led De Herrera Crochet to make cards for friends and family. "I found myself always making cards, and people liked them," she said.

However, it took someone working in a photo shop in Taos to encourage her to take the next step: Caroline Lake asked her, "Where do you show your work?" While this question made her consider her photography in a new light, she credits Arnold Trujillo for showing her how to present her work in galleries.

In the years when artists and craftsmen sold their work at the Río Grande Gorge Bridge, De Herrera Crochet decided to set up a table with her cards of New Mexico scenes. When she made $300 in two hours, her husband suggested she turn her love of photography and card-making into a business.

Since she very much enjoyed using film, De Herrera Crochet took a course in black and white photography from University of New Mexico in Taos in 2005.

"I don't like change," De Herrera Crochet said. "Í didn't want to look at a digital camera." Nevertheless, a gift of one of the best early digital cameras from her father-in-law helped prepare her for where she is now, a digital photographer with several cameras and printing options.

De Herrera Crochet has participated in many Taos County studio tours and arts and craft fairs and has had gallery showings in Farmington and Colorado.

This fall when the aspens began to turn, she and her husband took a trip up to Greenie Peak in the Carson National Forest where she captured the aspens in their glorious gold.

Contrary to the way most photographers work, De Herrera Crochet elects to shoot only a few shots of her subject. "I know what I want," she said, "and I seem to get it."

Also unlike some photographers, De Herrera Crochet does not carry a camera with her to every event nor does she photograph every beautiful scene she sees. Sometimes, she said, "I want that moment just for me."

De Herrera Crochet remembers, however, where she was when she took every picture she has ever taken. "I take pride in my work. I respect our land and hope it shows through my work." She believes in "God, family, and our flag." By "God" she emphasizes that she means spirituality. De Herrera Crochet also says that because of global warming, "I'm afraid we might lose some of what I see. The trees are changing."

De Herrera Crochet embraces an artistic approach to life: fashion, photography and her "second passion," baking.

"I'll always be a country girl, a norteña."

This "country girl" has captured on film or on digital media some very classic views of Northern New Mexico: a sky fiery with reds and purples, pink tinged storm clouds, the green and the gold of aspens, a carving of Christ crucified, ristras, the Gorge Bridge.

De Herrera Crochet offers prints of her photographs up to 30-by-32 inches and, in her home, she prints up to 16-by-20 inches. Although considered a landscape photographer, she also says, "I love doing portraits, close-ups." Additionally, she does some wedding photography. She points out, though, that she never uses Photoshop on her work, even of wedding participants.

Currently, De Herrera Crochet's cards are available at Cid's Food Market. She can be reached by phone at (575) 586-2434 or by email at nancsteve@yahoo.com.

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