On April 28th, I was watching a busy Saturday evening crowd gather in front of Oaxaca City’s colonial cathedral. The capital of Mexico’s state of Oaxaca, this high altitude southern city is a place filled with a flavor all its own: one strongly indigenous. There are 16 Native languages spoken here, while few speak English. In Oaxaca, I am a tiny minority.
Carrying only a Canon Elph SD1000 isn’t my typical MO, but I was recovering from flu just in time to take this vacation, so I had to travel super-light. This meant my little camera was always with me, and I was connecting first with people, places and what was going on around me, grabbing shots on the fly. I’d forgotten my camera’s manual, so I chose to capture images on the Elph’s Auto setting, selecting only format size (Large Jpeg) and whether to use Flash or not.
Going light and simple means: being able to have direct experience without “serious” hardware demands. I normally shoot with a Canon 7D, and sometimes a Speedlite 580 flash. As familiar as I am with this equipment, “lug, set, adjust and shoot” takes more energy than I had this time around. Keeping one’s eyes wide open for the unexpected and shooting simple makes photographing even more spontaneous. Street photography can be even fresher. I skipped bracketing, and thanks to LightRoom 3, my post-production recovered exposure-challenged images.
In this photo of Baroque Oaxaca Cathedral and its plaza, Saturday night throngs in contemporary, even fashionista, clothing celebrate among balloons and around a stage that later hosted a protest for education reform. Undoubtedly, some of these people come from remote, poor Zapotec, Mixtec and other Native villages that dot the rough mountains covering most of the state. The villages’ inaccessibility is part of why this area has such a vibrant Native culture.