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Mexico is a country replete with talented photographers, whether they focus their eye on glossy global fashion editorials or on getting that perfect Instagram shot. However, it’s undeniable that some of the greatest photography talents have come from the capital, Mexico City. Here are the ten chilango photographers, both past and present, that the world needs to know about.
Born, raised and based in Mexico City, Eunice Adorno is a chilanga through and through, as well as being one of the brightest contemporary photography talents to come from the Mexican capital. While her career began in photojournalism, she’s since branched out into documentary style projects, although arguably her most famous photo series to date is still 2011’s Las Mujeres Flores. Centering on Durango’s female Mennonite community, Flower Women gained much acclaim and recognition, highlighting a side to intimate Mexican life that’s rarely documented.
Entirely worthy of a spot on our list is the partial founder of Mexico’s Association of Press Photographers, Agustín Víctor Casasola. Although he started as a journalist, he had branched into photography by the turn of the century, going on to compile the Album Histórico Gráfico from the newspaper El Imparcial’s archives. However, Casasola is possibly best known for being one of the few pioneer photographers in the country to document the Mexican Revolution, becoming the unofficial photographer of Porfirio Díaz.
Although she’s from Mexico City, Lourdes Almeida originally studied photography in Italy and once studied under the renowned Mexican photographer Manuel Álvarez Bravo. Much of her present work focuses on both religion and the female body, expertly combining notions of reality and fantasy in one fell swoop. Aside from photography, Almeida has worked as Art Director on various Mexican cinematographic productions and published several books.
Perhaps the most internationally well-known and influential of all Mexico City’s photographers, Manuel Álvarez Bravo documents the surreal in the urbane Mexico City streets. Predominantly self-taught, his images bring together influences from the Mexican muralism movement, as well as wider European sources, with nudes, urbanity and folk art making up much of his repertoire. Active for a period of almost 50 years, he was hugely influential in educating the second wave of Mexican photographers, including Graciela Iturbide.
One of Mexico’s most respected contemporary photographers, Flor Garduño had displayed her work around the globe, in a career that has thus far spanned three decades. While she first started out as an art student, studying under Kati Horna, she dropped out to work as Álvarez Bravo’s assistant and hone her craft. It’s clear that the Mexico City native continues to be hugely inspired by her country, landscape and culture, although most of her pieces explicitly focus on the Mexican people, such as Magia del Juego Eterno and Fantastic Women.
As his own website proclaims, Fernando Aceves “first saw the light of day in 1965”, and has seemingly been working as an influential and accomplished music photographer ever since. With a preference for documenting the jazz scene, he is also known for his big name shoots with David Bowie, The Rolling Stones and Pink Floyd, to name but a few. Alongside working directly with artists, he has also partnered with concert promoters and record companies, photographing around 4,000 concerts to date.
Yes, that Kahlo. Not to be confused with Frida’s sister, Cristina Kahlo is actually the great-niece of the legendary artist and an accomplished photographer herself, living and working in Mexico City. Her interest in the art form started young and only grew after the death of her amateur photographer father when she was 13. Since then, she’s been immersed in the industry, favoring analogue over digital prints. As she herself acknowledges, each print is an interpretation of reality, as can be seen in her numerous and beautiful series’ like Tiempo al Juego and the understated Rituales.
Perhaps the most gruesome of all the photographers included on our guide, the work of Enrique Metinides is both visceral and horrific, playing on human nature’s insatiable curiosity and inability to turn away from that which is objectively repulsive but arguably beautiful. A photographer’s assistant turned nota roja photojournalist with La Prensa newspaper, Metinides specialised in brutal photos of accidents, his most famous piece titled Adela Legarreta Rivas atropellada por un Datsun showing an actress slumped on the pavement, after having been knocked down.
One of Mexico’s biggest contemporary names in the photography world, Graciela Iturbide is best known her stark black and white portraits of the refugee crisis and indigenous Mexicans, such as the nomadic Seri Indians in Sonora and the Juchitán Zapotecs in Oaxaca. A former student of Álvarez Bravo, Iturbide initially wanted to be a film director before moving over to the field of photography as a result of her mentor. Her body of work is overtly anthropological in focus, with a particular skill for exploring the role of women in Mexican society.
Last but not least we have Francisco Mata Rosas, another of present day Mexico City’s best photographic talents and a further example of an accomplished artist who began in photojournalism. Since his period with La Jornada de México, his photos have been seen in publications across the globe and his pieces have been displayed in numerous galleries and museums. As a result of his photojournalistic background, much of his work focuses on current and key events in Mexican history, like the Chiapas conflict and, recently, the US-Mexico border.