Author: malvenko

García Márquez + contact sheet

During one of the most epic photo workshops I attended years ago (Foundry Photo Workshop), one of the instructors (a pro photo editor) mentioned that he was not only interested in the few selects that photographers presented — he wanted to see the contact sheet with all the before and after. I read something similar somewhere about a Winogrand (I believe) workshop from the 70’s at UTexas.

Back in 2003, Nobel-laureate author Gabriel García Márquez visited my university (ITESM-MTY) — he gave something like a conference to a few students, professors, and a few others, before moving to the main university auditorium to be presented with some award. The initial session was beautiful — he talked about the process, his works, experiences, love, and how they connected.

At the time I was a collaborator in a student newspaper — Mientras Tanto. A couple of friends studying Spanish Literature worked there, and I got to tag along to a couple of events — nothing as epic as this, though. Since I had a mid-level digital SLR: a Nikon D100 (a rarity back then), they asked me to join them to document the event, which I immediately accepted. I had very basic lenses — the kit zoom from an old N80, and another 70-300. I carried both the N80 and my D100.

Some of the shots I took that day – check out the middle of the third row from the bottom.

As I was still pretty green on my photographic journey, many frames were blurry (I blame the lens), uninteresting, or the framing was off. Years later, working on the university’s newspaper as a photojournalist, I’d hone the skill after hundreds of events.

The best frame, ended up being uploaded to my Flickr page:

Gabriel Garcia Marquez

A few years later (mid 2010’s?), someone asked me on Flickr to change the permissions on the Flickr page so that they would be able to use it on Wikipedia. I had never thought about this, and since I had nothing to lose I did.

To my surprise, this ended up being the main photo used to illustrate GGM’s Wikipedia article in multiple languages until I randomly discovered that it was marked for deletion in May 2020 since there was an ongoing discussion that the photo was originally taken from some other publication.

I remember being at work seeing the news about his death, and how many articles online, and even TV shows ended up showing my photograph that day. Even in Google it’s still the recommended first result as of July 2020:

This brought up many memories from that day where a couple of my friends and I got to share what I felt as an intimate moment with an author that at that point meant a lot to me. It was also amazing to see how the auditorium event that followed turned out to be opposite of what almost 2,000 people expected; when he took the stage for the award, he said something along the lines of “I write books so I that I don’t need to ramble in person.”, and then proceeded back to his seat.

On his way out, I managed to hand him a sharpie and his most popular book Cien Años de Soledad, and asked him for an autograph, which he obliged.

That autographed book (which has its own history with me across continents and cities), is something I still treasure to this day.