STRENGTH & SERENTIY

Wandering with my camera while on vacation in southern Mexico
in the state of Qaxaco, I noticed these remarkable women on the sidelines.
Peddling their wares, washing clothes, waiting for a bus, they appeared like
artifacts from a bygone era. The more I observed them,
the more inspired I became by their spirit, their strong sense of self,
and most importantly, their sense of serenity.

Since then I have returned to Mexico and travelled to Guatemala
to photograph more of these Latin American women.
My mission is to record them on film before they vanish.
As globalization homogenizes the world, their primitive way of life,
their traditional dress, the handiwork and crafts they bring to market
may simply disappear. Moreover, the strength and serenity they exude is
likely to be diminished, even eradicated as commercialism sweeps in.

Many of them are averse to being photographed, therefore,
I approache them slowly and ask permission using hand signals
and/or my pigeon Spanish before pressing the shutter. Oftentimes, they want money
in return, so I purchase an item for sale or give them a small amount.
Typically, each one allows me a minute or so for just one or two frames,
three if I'm lucky. If they say no, I simply walk away.

Unlike many street photographers who use lightweight 35 mm equipment
or a digital camera, I hand-hold a medium-format camera and expose on film.
The camera offers a square format producing a formal portrait.
Moreover, its bulk forces me to slow down and study my subjects as I approach.
As a result, the images are spontaneous yet respectful.