Double Exposure: Día de Muertos, a pair of Street photography series in two cities
Our Double Exposure series explores the same topic by two different Street photographers. In this edition we visit festivals of Día de Muertos. One photographer captures film and digital color Street portraits in Los Angles by day. The other uses Black and White digital photography, using long exposures and flash, to capture surreal candids in the Mexico City night.
First we have Los Angeles photographer Susan Catherine Weber, who has made it an annual tradition to photograph the local festivals. She says:
“Día de Muertos — Day of the Dead — has its history rooted in Mexico, as far back as Toltec, Aztec and other Nahua people. It’s believed that the Nahua thought it was better to celebrate death as the continuation of life, rather than to mourn death as a final ending. Candles at night light the way for the wandering souls. Scents of marigold flowers guide the spirits to their altars, where they can enjoy offerings of their favorite food, drink or trinkets.
Besides being an opportunity to remember and pay respects to those beloved relatives, friends, and pets who have died, it’s also a reminder to we who are living that our ancestors are always within us. Our lives intertwined in past and present.
At festivals, I look for beautifully painted faces. Traditional, and not so traditional, face painting and clever original costumes catch my interest. I have to admit, I’m a sucker for veils over faces, so that you have work to see the painted face and the glimmer in the eye. Though a nighttime visit to an event is lovely, I like to go to the festivities during the day. Then I can see all the altar photographs, food, drinks, and flowers. I like to watch family and friends prepare their altars. Plus, honestly, it’s less crowded during the day. Fewer people means I can talk to those celebrating the day, and hear all about who they are remembering and honoring.
I really love hearing these memories of the different people’s loved ones. I enjoy how people talk about people now passed on. It’s generally so positive. And when it slips into a slightly negative characteristic, it’s usually a forgiven negative. Laughed off. There is almost always a smile on their face as they share. It’s nice. I like hearing the first thing people say about a loved one — “He really loved the Dodgers his whole life!” — “She was the funniest cat I’ve ever had.” — “He was a really good teacher, and really cool dad.” — “She built the altars every year of our lives, now we are building one for her this year.” It feels good to connect to people, even if for only a minute of their lives. Now the stories of their loved ones are living within we who hear about these lives before our own, connecting us all to the continuation of life — past death.”
By night and mostly in black and white, Marie Reyes captures a surreal feeling in the annual parade in Mexico City. She tells:
“This series’ effects are entirely ‘in camera.’ I shoot at low speeds with a flash, and get close to subjects, up to 30 centimeters away. The post production is minimal, adjusting normal contrasts, or choosing black and white vs. color treatment.
The Day of the Dead, or Día de Muertos, is a Mexican celebration to honor our dead that dates back to pre-Hispanic times. In Mexico, it is celebrated on November 1st and 2nd, offering the departed their favorite dishes and other things they enjoyed in life, presented on an altar with the traditional cempasuchíl flowers, and everything necessary for our dead to enjoy themselves.
These photos were taken over three consecutive years, during the parade to honor the dead which has been taking place in Mexico City in recent years. Here, everyone dresses up as a “Catrina”, which symbolizes death, in very elegant clothes.
This series is very special for me. When I lost my father four years ago, the pain I felt was tremendous, and the only way I could cope with it was by taking photos. I channeled all the pain I felt into photography, thus helping me in the healing process. Now I can remember my father without suffering, I remember him with great joy, and these photographs are the result.
Women in Street
social media collaborative for female street photographers