Elaine Moreno—Photographer



Mami y Papi


Two years ago, my parents decided it was time to start on their retirement plan: returning back to Mexico. Growing up witnessing their lives, I came to realize that I had never truly seen or understood their struggles until recently. I’ve grown more curious as to why they wanted to go back to Mexico; what is missing here in America? Was this always their plan? 
I couldn’t help wanting to look for answers.
Through conversations with my parents, I have a new perspective of what they went through as a young and newly married couple who migrated with their young children to San Francisco from Jalisco, Mexico. 

In this intimate and emotional process, we are unpacking truths, secrets, and new things about each other as our time living together is coming to an end, accepting that their “American Dream” was to always return to their roots.
Mami y Papi is one story in a larger narrative occurring every day in a current climate of fear and xenophobia, and it is an invitation for other people with similar experiences as immigrants to share their stories. With this long term project, I plan to document my parents' lives inside and outside of our shared home in the Bay Area, as well as their move, and their new home in Mexico.

Archiving and preserving mi familia’s story...

“Aunque estuve aquí por muchos años, todo el tiempo pensaba en estar allí. Pues porque yo crecí allá, fui a la escuela, fui parte de la universidad, mis amistades como mi mamá, mis hermanas, yo tenía a todos allá.”

What does it mean to archive and preserve?
Photography has allowed me to navigate through this special change in my family’s life. Mami y Papi’s experience of archiving their photographs with notes from their time apart is my biggest source of inspiration. At a very young age I was obsessed with their story- sacrificing in pursuit of a better opportunity. 
Archiving and preserving my family’s story is important to me, driving me throughout my practice to illustrate my thoughts and emotions through photography and language. I am inspired by my Mexican-American heritage, being a born-and-raised Bay Area native, and my experiences as the daughter of immigrants. It is important for me to create work that brings awareness to current social and cultural realities through the narrative of a woman of color in America.

“Es difícil la decisión otra vez volver a empezar en tu país. Creo que en mi caso, tengo más años de vivir aquí que en México porque me vine joven.”


Elaine Moreno is a Bay Area native whose work primarily represents Latine
and Bay Area culture through editorial and documentary photography. Her mission is to stay connected to her local community by working in creative spaces, and collaborating with local galleries and non profit foundations. For Elaine, creating art is a crucial form of feeling free and alive, especially in a world where BIPOC people need to be uplifted. 

Art has given Elaine the ability to understand and empathize with the human experience across cultures and backgrounds, eager to discover new ways to contribute to her community so that she can eventually work with artists to help them follow their own creative ideas and hearts, no matter what it takes. Her dream is to mentor and establish a creative art space for youth in the Bay area that also promotes social awareness to the community.

   Photo taken on Ohlone Land by Stef Sandoval @95.stef

Contacts: elainemoreno.photography@gmail.com or Instagram