Category Archives: Cultural

In the Streets of Oaxaca

One of the fun and exciting things to take place in Oaxaca, Mexico, during Day of the Dead (Dia de los Muertos) is the seemingly random street parades that appear and wind their way through the town center. Various groups – from school children decked out in elaborate costumes and make-up to wedding parties with dancers in traditional dress and paper-mâché caricatures of the bride and groom – march through the streets and around the Zocalo (town square), typically accompanied by a loud and energetic brass band. Occasionally the paths of different groups will cross at an intersection, the participants intermingling for a brief moment in time before continuing on their separate ways.

I still have calendars available with the proceeds going to support relief efforts for the super-Typhoon Haiyan that struck the Philippines last month causing horrendous devastation and destruction. Rebuilding of lives and communities will be going on for quite some time from this disaster. Your support for my efforts to raise funds would be greatly appreciated and would be a great way to spread the holiday spirit.

Caricature of the bride - Oaxaca, Mexico

Caricature of the bride – Oaxaca, Mexico

Standing tall - Oaxaca, Mexico

Standing tall – Oaxaca, Mexico

Street dancers - Oaxaca, Mexico

Street dancers – Oaxaca, Mexico

Zoiks, Zombie!! - Oaxaca, Mexico

Zoiks, Zombie!! – Oaxaca, Mexico

Marching band for the wedding - Oaxaca, Mexico

Marching band for the wedding – Oaxaca, Mexico

Also posted in Calendar, Humanitarian, Mexico, Photography Tagged , , , |

Support Super Typhoon Haiyan Relief

Friends and family: As you are all aware, Super Typhoon Haiyan, one of the most powerful storms in recorded history, struck the Philippines two weeks ago causing indescribable destruction, loss of life, and leaving 10s of thousands without food, shelter, or livelihoods. While this story has already largely dropped on the news radar, replaced by the latest political scandal or celebrity sighting, the rebuilding of people’s homes, lives, and communities will go on for years. In an effort to provides some small gesture of help, I have put together a calendar of cultural and travel images from around the Philippines. 100% of the proceeds from the sales of this calendar will go to Mercy Corps Haiyan relief efforts. I’m asking for your support in helping the people of the Philippines, through purchase of one of these calendars, and/or by sharing this post with your friends. Thanks y’all.

Incidentally, the church shown on the front cover of the calendar is the San Pedro Church in Loboc, Bohol. This church was seriously damaged by the earthquake this past October.

PH Haiyan Calendar

Also posted in Calendar, Humanitarian, Philippines Tagged , , , |

A Festival of Contrasts

In my previous post, I briefly mentioned some of the visual contrasts surrounding the Day of the Dead (Dia de Los Muertos) in Oaxaca, Mexico; how what one might generally consider to be a rather solemn occasion can also contain so much good-natured fun and frivolity. One of the best examples of this contrast was at the Panteon General, a large cemetery and mausoleum dramatically lit by thousands of candles set in wall niches, outside of which a small carnival was set up with food stalls, games, and kiddie rides. It’s probably safe to assume that a certain amount of gayety has always been a part of Dia de Los Muertos but, like many cultural events around the world, commercialism has begun to creep in. Still, it does make for some fun photos.

Carnival Fishing - Oaxaca, Mexico

Carnival Fishing – Oaxaca, Mexico

Only $10 - Oaxaca, Mexico

Only $10 – Oaxaca, Mexico

Pizza - Oaxaca, Mexico

Pizza – Oaxaca, Mexico

Treats - Oaxaca, Mexico

Treats – Oaxaca, Mexico

Watching over lost souls - Oaxaca, Mexico

Watching over lost souls – Oaxaca, Mexico

Speaking of commercialism of holidays, the Christmas shopping season is now upon us. How about giving the gift of photography this year? My 2014 wall calendar The Nature of the Abstract would make a fine gift for family and friends.

The Nature of the Abstract

Also posted in Mexico, Travel Tagged , , |

Graveside Contemplations

While Mexico’s Day of the Dead festival (Dia de Los Muertos) includes a significant amount of crazy costumes, parades, parties, and street revelry, the primary focus for many is the late-night gathering of families at the graveside of loved-ones to reflect on those that have passed on. These cemetery gatherings themselves are often an odd mix of frivolity and solemnity.

Although in a broad sense it could at times feel like a bit party walking through the large cemetery gatherings (at one cemetery there was a stage set up with a live band playing), at a more intimate level it could also feel rather intrusive. Although not intended to be an occasion of mourning, but rather a time of celebration, one couldn’t help feeling that you were walking through people’s private gatherings. Some families preferred to be left alone, but many were quite welcoming. If you took the time to at least give them a smile you generally received one in return, and possibly even conversation or mezcal.

Conditions for photography were difficult. It was quite dark with candlelight often being the only source of light. The intimacy of the occasion also required a high level of respect and courtesy (sadly ignored by some photographers). Most folks didn’t mind being photographed if you at least gave them a few moments of your time.

Remembrance - Oaxaca, Mexico

Remembrance – Oaxaca, Mexico

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Also posted in Mexico, Travel Tagged , , |

A Sense of Place

Mitla is a small, mostly quiet village about 30 minutes outside of Oaxaca, Mexico. Mitla is known for a small archeological site of Zapotec ruins, which is what most touristas come to see. Ruins are interesting but it’s often the everyday life and scenes of a place that I really find most appealing.

Mitla, Oaxaca, Mexico

Mitla, Oaxaca, Mexico

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Also posted in Mexico, Travel Tagged , |