The Photographer Who Captured Frida Kahlo’s Most Painful Moments

The Photographer Who Captured Frida Kahlo’s Most Painful Moments

By: Rodrigo Ayala -


“I don’t have any mayor artistic aspirations, but if my photographs serve any purpose, they’ll be a chronicle of my country, time, people. They’ll tell the story of how Mexico has changed. My images include things you don’t see in Mexico anymore (…) I was lucky to encounter and capture these images. One day they might serve as testimony of the time that’s gone by and the transformations it’s brought.  These are images that hit me on a deeper level, they shocked me into clicking the camera. When doing portraits, one has to really discover the person behind the image, being aware of their manners and attitude. Discover who they are and what they’re like.”

Lola Álvarez Bravo

Frida Kahlo Lola Alvarez Bravo-w636-h600

As we navigate this world of chaos, pollution, freeways, and skyscrapers blocking our view, it’s refreshing to visit the past we long to remember. The work of Lola Álvarez Bravo allows us to see a less chaotic version of Mexico, rooted in tradition, removed from industrialization and globalization.

Frida Kahlo Lola Alvarez Bravo Sky-w636-h600

Her images are a glimpse into the rural side of Mexico: Forgotten towns lost in the dark corners of the country, staying true to their culture. She was the artist of the mundane, of clay figures, of dusty roads, of sun soaked faces caring for the corn fields.

Frida Kahlo Lola Alvarez Bravo Dog-w636-h600

Just as she documented the real lives of farmers, her lens also presented the surrealism of everyday life. This artist also left an incredible visual legacy of one of the most famous Mexican women of all time: her friend, Frida Kahlo. The images that capture the painter during her weakest moments, show the consequences of the ailment that took hold of the artist from the moment of the traffic accident that changed her life. 

Frida Kahlo Lola Alvarez Bravo Pose-w636-h600
Fibromyalgia is a condition that causes intense muscular pain and fatigue. It was this condition that made Kahlo undergo dozens of surgeries, wearing corsets, and several other attempts to ease the constant pain in her back and body. This physical and spiritual ache can be observed in most of her self-portraits.

Frida Kahlo Lola Alvarez Bravo Puppies-w636-h600

However, Kahlo’s paintings are not the only records of her life: the pictures taken by Lola Alvarez Bravo are an exquisite historical archive of the Frida’s personal life: at home, with her dogs, enjoying life despite the difficulties.

Frida Kahlo Lola Alvarez Bravo Wheelchair-w636-h600

This moving vision of Frida’s reality is palpable in each image. The photographer was able to go inside the world of the woman who broke the mold. These pictures show the friendship between Lola and Frida, the story behind the legend.

Frida Kahlo Lola Alvarez Bravo Friendship-w636-h600
Dolores Martinez Anda, mostly known by her married name, Lola Álvarez Bravo, is considered to be the first Mexican professional female photographer. Mentored by her husband Manuel Álvarez Bravo, she’s considered to be one of the most groundbreaking artists of her time. She was able to create works full of identity that have withstood the passing of time. Lola’s works are epic keepsakes of the Mexico of yore.

Frida Kahlo Lola Alvarez Bravo In Bed-w636-h600

But it’s the pictures she captured of her friend’s most difficult moments that tell the story of an icon’s humanity. Through the images of Frida we are able to catch a glimpse of the psyche of a woman who is loved and admired by the entire world.

Frida Kahlo Lola Alvarez Bravo Death-w636-h600

For more on Frida, check out these 25 quotes that are sure to inspire or read the story of the lover that turned her into a Vogue model. 


Translated by María Suárez Ruiz