I think Mexico has changed my life. And I am so relieved.
Back in January, I decided to go to Mexico with a gorgeous photographer friend of mine to take Mary Ellen Mark‘s workshop in Oaxaca. It had been a long time since I had done any personal photography work and it was really starting to get me down. I was in a creative rut, and there was a huge sadness that sat in me. Mexico seemed to be the solution.
Five flights later and I am in this old town nestled in a beautiful valley, with old churches on every corner. Music is playing everywhere and fire crackers go off in the main square. The food is spicy, the afternoons are hot and everyone seems to be smiling at me. And then I find myself in a room with 20 other photographers all nervous as hell about showing a world renowned photographer my personal work.
Day one of the workshop had begun, and Mary Ellen didn’t really take a liking to my photos. I was given my first assignment which I had little interest in and went home feeling totally flustered and unsure of everything I knew as a photographer. Dramatic enough for you? It was probably just the jet lag but boy oh boy, did I get a wee bit emotional. But despite that, there was no way I was going to argue with a woman who has decades of experience and a folio that would make any photographer weak at the knees. I knew she had a plan for me and I just had to shut up and do it.
The first day of shooting, my cab driver got lost. I knew no Spanish so I had absolutely no idea how I was going to make it to day two. By day ten, I couldn’t bare to leave. The people I had the privilege to meet and photograph was, hands down, the greatest experience of my life. I visited a school for kids with Downs Syndrome where I was greeted with kisses and given a spot at their lunch table. I went out to small villages to photograph families and I couldn’t get over how welcome I was made to feel wherever I went. I visited orphanages, livestock markets, watched the Luchadores (the Mexican wrestlers) and small towns preparing for fiestas. I also spent an amazing day with the Charros, the Mexican cowboys where I rode their horses, drank rum and took their portraits while their proudly showed off their roping skills.
Every day, I had no idea what was going to happen, or where I would end up. A creative freedom of immense proportions. I had the time of my life. And the sadness left.
One the last day, Mary Ellen took everyone’s portraits and on my print she wrote, “To Katie, who is always full of joy. It shows in your photographs.”
Here’s a small selection of my work, but if you want to see more, just pop over here.
Love Katie xo