As Mexico City As It Gets

…So there were some reasons to go back to Mexico City…

Stairs + Father

I won’t go into the strongest personal reason… none of your business whatsoever.

Some are just waiting to get back… others like me are just trying to move on.

It’s weird how things work. I love home, I love the city, but I think I’m over it.

In Mexico, certain people from the countryside blog about this place, and rant about how awesome and great, and fucking special it is. I guess it is thaaat special when you grew up in a stinky town, and long to feel special in a place where you’re not that unique. Anyway… I’ll digress.

I still got a sweet spot for Mexico City deep within me. It’s too bad I had to leave N temporarily, but well, she’s tough and can kick anyone’s ass without my help.

…So there was a photo-workshop…

Not any photo-workshop, but the meanest, baddest workshop in town: Foundry Photo Workshop.

Here’s some name dropping if you’re turned on by that:

Last, but not least… not teaching but helping veeeery much:

I jumped between 3 classes: Multimedia Storytelling (Tewfic), Building a Reportage (Eros) and Photojournalist Bootcamp (Renee, Paula, Scott). It’s too bad there were so many great photogs teaching at the same time.

Sort of reminded me of a little kid in a huge candy store, and only seconds to grab a few things before mom or dad calls.

And so a week passed by.

A somewhat strange week… with photographers from all over the world, lots of beer, avid desires to learn, to teach, to grow aware of what’s around you, and introduce yourself to truly awesome guys… friendship in the air.

I did 3 things: Help translate, get access, and shoot.

Multimedia Storytelling

We headed to Sonora Market, to shoot traditional Mexican stuff.

Well, it’s a market where you can find from toys, to herbal medicine, live animals, and healers. It was a bit daunting at first because I had not heard any good things from my father… he was a bit reluctant to let me go… but you know… I’ve been in worse places.

After trying to convince Lukcero Aghakán to let us take pictures, we looked around for someone else who would be willing to let us take photos and provide us with information about healers and the healing process. We actually never got to talk with Ms. Aghakán; one of her assistants made a point in saying that they had an arrangement with the big-evil Mexican TV network Televisa.

It sucked… I mean… traditional healers with their exclusivity contract with a tv station. Pleaseee…

After wandering around the market for some time, we spoke with Angel Guarda who was truly amazing. He explained the healing process, and was quite friendly when it came to share experiences and take pictures. Angel, you rock!

So here is what I did in the end…

It’s not much but I liked the result:

…and well… being in Mexico City, I could not neglect my long time friends Betty and David.

Time was short, but we had fun. David showed us his latest creations and well, Betty smiled.

David smiling saying that the outfit was not yet perfect for actual use

We went to El Hijo del Cuervo to have a couple of beers and just talk about everything we have always done.

Strangely calm night

The next day was calm. During the morning I attended the Building a Reportage lecture, and discussed some cool things about coherence of the story, and closeness (image-wise).

But since I had my wheels, I told Matt we could drive downtown and just walk and shoot pictures.

“never forget the first rush. remember how good it felt? that first rush of blood from retina to cortex. all it takes is one hit”
(Craig, M., 2008).

He’s funny, and an awesome photographer. Check out MJR. N O W ! ! !

Yet another protest…

Also met Mustafah from MJR. He did a hardcore project about crime in Mexico City. He had awesome shots as well.

Mustafah was sitting down half awake, half asleep in a couch, so I approached and said:

J: Rough night?

M: Man, last night I was in a police raid and so sooo many firearms… like I’d never seen before. And it was hardcore… safeties off and just ready to shoot.

J: I don’t think those guns had any safeties.

M: What do you mean?

J: Safety devices are considered “extra” in here… y’know… guns with safeties cost more, and well…

It was cool he did not get hurt, or shot. A police raid in Tepito… that’s harcdore.

Zocalo. México D.F.

PJ Bootcamp.

This seemed like an interesting class, and since I was free, and not shooting, I thought I might as well go in.

So I opened the door and everyone went quiet and looked at me.

Typical “oh shit” moment.

M: Is this PJ Bootcamp?

Scott: Yes.

M: Can I stay? I’m interested to hear what you have to say.

Scott: Yeah, grab a chair.

And they kept reviewing people’s projects, and I just felt infatuated with this class. It was about three teachers with incredibly trained eyes for photography telling you how to build a small story with images… and you brought them your photos straight from the camera and they would tell you what worked, and what sucked.

To have the three guys discussing out-loud about what photos were cool and which ones weren’t – priceless.

So it was Thursday morning… Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday went by quickly (as when you have lots of fun), and Thursday morning I met Tewfic, Chris, and Adam at the Mother’s Monument, where people were protesting naked.

Peasants and fishermen from the Mexican state Veracruz were removed from their lands. Eventually, the local government seized these lands without providing the original owners any type of restitution. Since the local government was not opening any channel for communication, the peasants and fishermen brought their families to Mexico City to obtain an answer to their situation.

Their marching and dancing naked is a symbol of the fact that without lands they do not have anything; not even clothes.

This is one of the first times I’ve photographed public manifestations up close and personal.

I met a really cool guy called Pedro who guided me around. He had a cool sense of humour… which made me wonder how much humour I’d have if I were protesting against the government.

Well… never mind.

So Thursday Morning I met with the Multimedia Storytelling guys, and shot this. Later during the PJ Bootcamp class, I decided I wanted this to be my project (originally it was supposed to be low-level cantinas, but the window for that project was killer for waking up early for class).

I did not like any of the pictures I took in the morning.

Even though the protesters weren’t violent at all, police had to surround them
The mask represents Vicente Fox – Mexican ex-president
Protesters wore the image of a senator implicated in the scandal
The police did not really have anything to do while they danced
Not all the protesters danced naked
Late at night, the campers ate dinner. They had free coffee, but the foam cups were 2 pesos each.

It felt good to see the whole material on the big screens. The colors sucked, but the atmosphere in the auditorium was cool.

My favorite panel was the one with Stanley, Khadir, Scott, and David (from NatGeo), and the discussion about the future of photojournalism.

Stanley Greene and Khadir Van Lohuizen in one of the panel discussions

And that was it for Foundry 2008.

I spent the rest of the time with my family, and was quite happy about it.

Too bad couldn’t go out to dinner the three of us, but well… there will be other times.

Better times, hopefully.

Mexico City’s airport has seen me many times in these past years. With lots of luggage, with only a backpack and a camera, exhausted from intercontinental flights, but this time was weird. I had this strange satisfaction you only have when things go perfectly sweet, and there’s no way someone on Earth can take that from you.

… a small realization, maybe.

Drops of water falling from the ceiling

They sky on my way back just gave me a pretty good image to close this chapter down… youth, dreams, and good times… here and far.


Hope life catches you well.



Ceci says:

Muy MUY imteresante, ¡me hubieras invitado el curso!!