Photographer Graciela Iturbide grew up comfortable, beautiful, and bound for a traditional marriage in Mexico City. The eldest of thriteen children, she attended a Catholic convent school and, in 1962, married an architect. Within eight years she had three children. She was also enrolled in the Center for Film Studies at the National Autonomous University of Mexico. Her involvement with the university and, in particular, one of the teachers there, helped her to cope with a personal tragedy. That teacher, Manuel Alvarez Bravo, a master of photography and cinematography, became her mentor.
Initially, Iturbide photographed everyday life in Mexico City. But, like Alvarez Bravo, she was curious about the country's culture outside the capital, especially the Indian aspects celebrated by the postrevolutionary artists and intellectuals whose circle Alvarez Bravo had been part of in his youth. He encouraged her to visit pre-Hispanic communities and bring back her own interpretation of the ancient customs surviving in modern Mexico.