Although he doesn't speak Spanish fluently, Ketchum, who has Latino roots, says, "I can speak English with a Spanish accent." He invested years warming up the long-established families of the mountains, winning their trust, establishing boundaries, and, eventually, learning their histories. He handed out copies of the FSA photographs and made judicious use of his own camera. He learned that in northern New Mexico, you can often still trade goods for cuentos — stories of life and customs, and so he traded photographs for information.
As the years went by, he began to learn to whom the faces in the old images belonged. He was surprised to discover — but perhaps shouldn't have been, given the constancy of the place — that many of the people he was looking for hadn't moved much at all from where Collier and Lee had first found them.
At times, when Ketchum arrived with his photographs, people were as astonished to see their younger selves as they might have been to see a long-dead relative. Matilda Lovato, for example, nearly fainted when Ketchum introduced himself with a photo of her and her daughter, Elsie, taken in 1940 in their home in Chamisal. But soon, Lovato, who still lives in Chamisal, was spilling stories and fond memories. Passing through Questa, New Mexico, Ketchum wandered into a store he recognized from FSA pictures and found it being run by the grandson of the woman originally photographed. The young man became so excited that he left Ketchum to operate the store while he ran to find his grandmother.