I first met Julie on February 28, 1993.

Julie, 18, stood in the lobby of the Ambassador Hotel, barefoot, pants unzipped, and an 8 day-old infant in her arms. She lived in San Francisco’s SRO district, a neighborhood of soup kitchens and cheap rooms. Her room was piled with clothes, overfull ashtrays and trash. She lived with Jack, father of her first baby Rachael, and who had given her AIDS. She left him months later to stop using drugs.

Her first memory of her mother is getting drunk with her at 6 and then being sexually abused by her stepfather. She ran away at 14 and became drug addict at 15. Living in alleys, crack dens, and bunked with more dirty old men than she cared to count.

For the last 18 years I have photographed Julie Baird’s complex story of multiple homes, AIDS, drug abuse, abusive relationships, poverty, births, deaths, loss and reunion. I followed Julie from the backstreets of San Francisco to the backwoods of Alaska.

— Darcy Padilla


LensCulture Book Review:

This is a heartbreaking book about a true story that is both extremely sad and personal, yet regrettably universal. We get to know each of the central characters intimately, and we can feel the fragility and violence in their relationships and in the temporary places they call home. The story is beautifully photographed, filled with empathy, but not holding back on the rough stuff, either. This is long-term, in-depth photo-documentary at its best. No wonder Darcy Padilla has won so many grants to support this multi-year project, including the W. Eugene Smith Grant.

In 2014, Éditions de La Martinière published Darcy Padilla’s book “Family Love” which includes texts by French writers Emmanuel Carrère and Christian Caujolle. For now, the book itself, including the essays and captions, is all in French. But regardless, the photos themselves speak volumes.


— Jim Casper

Family Love
by Darcy Padilla
Publisher: Editions de la Martinière, 2014