Tacos, Tequila & Tilt-Shift
OK, that might just be the most poorly conceived heading for a blogpost ever – but it’s the best I could come up with after nearly a week bed-struck with the flu (the photo above is a reflection of how I’m feeling – rusty!). Anyway, in a little over a month I’ll be heading off […]
OK, that might just be the most poorly conceived heading for a blogpost ever – but it’s the best I could come up with after nearly a week bed-struck with the flu (the photo above is a reflection of how I’m feeling – rusty!).
Anyway, in a little over a month I’ll be heading off to Oaxaca, in Mexico, to create some photos. This time last year I was in Ladakh on a tour co-led by David duChemin, who will be co-leading this tour to Oaxaca. I’m sure the workshop will be another challenging photographic experience.
This trip gives me the opportunity to satisfy two curiosities. First, I’ve always been fascinated by the Zapotec culture, which is not as familiar to many people as the Aztec, but is in every way equally compelling and historically significant.
Secondly, this is a chance to better understand Día de los Muertos, a visually spectacular celebration based around the Catholic festivals of All Saints’ and All Souls’.
While ruins and rituals will be integral to the trip, as always I’ll be interested to explore local food culture as well. Oaxaca has a well regarded and very deep food tradition and a growing reputation for artisanal Tequilas and Mezcals. Moreover, Oaxaca seems to have a vibrant art and design scene.
On the technical side, I’m finalising my gear list for the trip this week. Before Ladakh last year I felt seriously under-gear-ified. I had only one camera body (my old Nikon D50), no filters, no off camera flash gear, no decent camera bags and no backup batteries. This year I’m not anticipating that kind of pre-workshop expenditure!
What I will be spending money on is a more heavy duty tripod, a better tripod head and a couple more graduated filters for landscape photography. Of course, I could always talk myself into “one-more-lens.” But, these days, almost all my photos are coming out of three lenses that are already well established in my rig (24mm tilt-shift, 50mm f1.4, 105mm f2).
Finally, in terms of pre-trip reading, I’m digging into two books. First, is Kristen Norget’s Days of Death, Days of Life: Ritual in the Popular Culture of Oaxaca. It’s a scholarly anthropological work, looking into religious and social identity in this region of Mexico.
Second, I’m digesting Francoise Barbe-Gall’s How to Understand a Painting: Decoding Symbols in Art. As I’ve mentioned before, I’m reading fewer photography books right now and paying more attention to other visual arts. Given that I’ll be moving in a culture so rich in symbolism it made sense to think a little about the way religiously-tinged visual language has been used in Western art.
It’s been a crazy kind of year, but I’m really looking forward to this journey.