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.