Why Gabriela Loves Lowriders

Gabriela Campos

SHE’S A PHOTOJOURNALIST. She’s a native Santa Fean. And she shoots for her hometown paper, The New Mexican, as well as top-tier publications around the world. Gabriela Campos has photographed pretty much everything: ride-alongs with the border patrol for The New Mexican, the removal of conquistador statues for The Guardian, Oaxaca teacher riots and Mayan healing rituals for Al Jazeera, and the first indigenous Comic Con for VICE. Five years ago, she did a profile on New Mexican lowriders for VICE, and fell in love with the people, their cars, the whole culture. She describes what obsesses her about what she calls “a project I’ll be doing the rest of my life:”

The people are the interesting thing. Seeing how their personalities are reflected in the design of car culture of New Mexico is amazing. Growing up in New Mexico, cruising is just part of the culture. And it’s not just in Española, it’s in Albuquerque, really all over. When I was young, I cruised with my friends, but in nothing so beautiful as the cars here. And the more I was around lowriders, the more I admired them. They are actually more fascinating than their cars, which are pretty fascinating in themselves.

During the summer I would go out on Sunday evenings to photograph lowriders cruising Central Ave. I was struck every time, not only by the candy-colored Impalas, or the hydraulic systems hopping down the street, but the people. Their history, their process, the work they’ve put in, that little special something they’ve added to make the car their own – that’s the best part. Maybe it’s just a New Mexican thing, to love lowriders.



Photo Nathaniel Paolinelli