• Desire Lines photobook by Lara Shipley
  • Desire Lines by Lara Shipley
  • Desire Lines by Lara Shipley
  • Desire Lines by Lara Shipley
  • Desire Lines by Lara Shipley
  • Desire Lines by Lara Shipley
  • Desire Lines by Lara Shipley
  • Desire Lines by Lara Shipley
  • Desire Lines by Lara Shipley
  • Desire Lines by Lara Shipley
  • Desire Lines by Lara Shipley
  • Desire Lines by Lara Shipley
  • Desire Lines by Lara Shipley
  • Desire Lines by Lara Shipley
  • Desire Lines by Lara Shipley
  • Desire Lines by Lara Shipley
  • Desire Lines by Lara Shipley
  • Desire Lines by Lara Shipley

Desire Lines
Lara Shipley


Desire Lines follows old and new movements through the desert landscape of the Sonoran borderlands of the United States and Mexico: paths taken by migrants and border agents, of missionaries and conquistadors, of indigenous people and industrialists. The messy and at times violent collision of peoples has created a region that defies the harmfully simplistic narratives so frequently attributed to our borders.

Shipley’s photographs focus on the disorienting experience of this landscape – a place of beauty or danger depending on the perspective of those moving through it. Deceptively empty, the landscape is under constant watch, heavily surveilled and controlled, with an ever-increasing military presence that has seeped into the lives of residents in surrounding communities.

FIRST EDITION Softcover, 17 x 22.5 cm, 208 pages
Section sewn, OTA-bound with printed paper covers, two inserts
170 photographs, satellite maps and archival images
April 2023 | ISBN: 9781999446895

See also: Desire Lines Maquette Edition


Desire Lines looks at migration as an inherently human act – one that has defined human history and the geopolitical framework of our planet. Shipley’s photographs are seen in dialogue with interviews from migrants and long-term residents, 20th century oral histories and 19th and 20th century archival photographs. This mix of time and perspective highlights a region long marked by migration, individual desire and preservation, but also systemic dominance and colonial control, hidden in hundreds of square miles of remote terrain.

Design by Tiffany Jones

The Author

Lara Shipley is an American photographer. She exhibits in galleries across the United States, and her work has appeared in notable exhibitions at the National Museum of Women in the Arts in Washington, DC, GuatePhoto international photography festival in Guatemala, the Benaki Museum in Greece and a recent solo exhibition at the international photography festival Cortona on the Move, in Italy. Her work is in collection institutions such as the Museum of Modern Art (NYC), Whitney Museum of American Art (NYC), Smithsonian American Art Museum (Washington D.C.), Museum of Contemporary Photography (Chicago), and the Nelson Atkins Museum for Art (Kansas City). Lara’s photographs have appeared in publications such as Harper’s Magazine, Smithsonian Magazine, British Journal of Photography, Atlantic Monthly, Vice, and NPR. She received a MFA in photography from Arizona State University and a Bachelors of Photojournalism from the University of Missouri. She is an Assistant Professor of Photography at Michigan State University. www.larashipley.com

Reviews + Press

“Desire Lines combines imagery and text, both contemporary and historical, as a vehicle to have a thoughtful and contemplative discussion about immigration. It looks at our current humanitarian crisis at the southern border and views it through the larger context of human migration and shifting borders.”Michael Chovan-Dalton, Real Photo Show

“So much concrete, so many bullets, vitriol and death just to prevent people from walking across a desert. The book shows this as both saddening and maddening. Shipley manages to say something new in an area that has long held photographic interest… As a long time observer of photographic representations of the desert, this is a welcome addition that adds political and historical elements that feel relevant, urgent and misunderstood.”Matt Dunne, C4 Journal

“U.S. immigration policy (or lack of it?) sucks and human smuggling is incredibly dangerous, and yet the various desire lines they trace (borders, footpaths, cloud circles, human formations) are strangely photogenic… Textured patterns bleed into photographs, page tears become material elements, photo panels merge using translucent overlays a la Mark Klett. Has the multiverse arrived finally? Or perhaps the multimedia/multicultural future? Either way, consider the envelope pushed.”Blake Andrews, photobook critic

The novel-shaped Desire Lines provides the most human, nuanced, and accurately complex depiction of life in the U.S.-Mexico border region of the Sonoran Desert that I’ve ever encountered in a group of pictures. Somehow, the photographs also manage to acknowledge the overwhelming beauty of this harsh terrain. This writer, who was born in that desert, is happy about it.Bucky Miller, Glasstire

Collector Daily review by Loring Knoblauch
Podcast discussion with Michael Chovan-Dalton, Real Photo Show
Review by Matt Dunne for C4 Journal
Glasstire review by Bucky Miller
Babelia en EL PAÍS Review by Gloria Crespo MacLennan (Spanish)
Lara Shipley Interview, Fisheye Magazine (French)
Feature, Il Post, ‘Tracce e storie dal deserto di Sonora’ (Italian)
Feature in Guillotine magazine (French)

Special Notes

*Shortlisted for the Fotobus Society Library Award 2024
*Photoeye Favorite Photobooks of 2023, selected by Edward Grazda
*Favourite Photobooks of 2023, selected by Ola Søndenå, Department of Special Collections, University of Bergen Library
*Best Photobooks of 2023, selected by studiofaganel, una galleria d’arte, Italy
*Recommended books, Photobookstore (UK), May 2023
*Selected Books of the Month, Photo London 2023

Sat 12th August, 1-2pm (PST) – Signing at Printed Matter’s LA Art Book Fair with Skylight Books, booth J-1

10th May – Book Launch at Photo London, Somerset House
12th May – Book Launch at ICP Book Fair, International Center for Photography, New York
14th May – 2:00pm Book signing with Lara Shipley at International Center for Photography, New York

Desire Lines is held in the following library collections:
Amon Carter Museum of American Art, Fort Worth, TX (USA)
The British Library (UK)
Harvard University Library (USA)
Prussian Cultural Heritage State Library, Berlin (DE)
Saxon State and University Library, Dresden (DE)