Barrio Viejo Doors


Security. Screens and bars block all but one of the entrances to 486 S Meyer, Tucson, Arizona.

After having so much fun photographing doors and windows and such in Santorini, Greece, the previous April, last fall I spent some time on two consecutive Sundays out wandering around in a colorful old neighborhood south of downtown Tucson called Barrio Viejo. I had driven through the area a number of times, but the only time I clearly recall taking photos there was when I took some portraits of my two youngest daughters back in 2013.

Utilities. A mixture of old and new electric meters hang high on a wall in Barrio Viejo, Tucson, Arizona.

These first two pictures are reminiscent of the less touristy areas of Santorini in their rundownedness: badly in need of fresh paint and probably abandoned. I like the first picture because everything is screened or barred over, except the top center window that is wide open, barless and glassless. In the second picture, all the electric meters are old and rusty except the two with new meters, which makes a nice contrast. Also, the capped gas pipe sticking out of the ground in the lower left, although a small detail that almost blends into the wall behind it, provides some visual balance to the electric meters and the door.

The next two photos are from better-maintained parts of the neighborhood: neat, tidy, and colorfully-painted:

No. 841. Brick steps ascend to a blue door in a yellow-green wall in Barrio Viejo, Tucson, Arizona
No. 808. Cactus in deep blue pots flank a blue door in Barrio Viejo, Tucson, Arizona.

Brightly-colored buildings are the norm in Barrio Viejo, but there are exceptions:

Unarmed Sentries. Trios of adolescent saguaro cactus stand guard beside a dog-lover’s door in Barrio Viejo, Tucson, Arizona.

These very symmetric and well-maintained entrances are a stark contrast to the somewhat dilapidated buildings we began with, but here is my favorite, partway along its journey from proud and colorful to faded and rundown:

Fixtures Askew. Colorful, peeling paint surrounds a weathered door in Barrio Viejo, Tucson, Arizona.

I wonder if someone will redeem this structure before it descends into complete decay.

Technical notes. The photographs in this post were taken with a Nikon Z7. Five of these images were taken with the Nikkor Z 24-120mm f/4 S and the other—featuring the saguaros in front of the white building—was taken with the Nikkor Z 85mm f/1,8 S. All were processed from RAW in Adobe Lightroom Classic.

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3 responses to “Barrio Viejo Doors”

  1. Especially if they are beyond their intended best, doors make a great subject for photography. Your images show this very vividly. Like them all but the one framed by cactuses/cacti stands out for me in terms of wondering what “message” the owner(s) intended.

    • Thank you, Rob! They do make nice subjects and work well straight on, too. But I am thinking that I will have to play with some different perspectives to mix it up, but I am not sure what. Next time I see a nice door…