Oaxaca is a land of light – on ochre and maroon and turquoise walls; on dancers; on plazas and huge laurel trees. It is also a land of color: market stalls heaped with mangos and cherry-red chapulines (fried grasshoppers); the swirling skirts of traditional dancers; street art and brilliant sky and jacarandas blooming lavender. In Oaxaca, you don’t plan: you wander. Around a corner, a calenda led by a full brass band. Around another, a streetside stand packed with people eating tacos. People gather on the pedestrian streets and in the Zocalo and everywhere there is a sense of community, fiesta, and conviviality. Everywhere you go, you see mountains. Oaxaca will cast its spell on you, especially during the blue hour – la hora azul – when the streets teem and the heat dims and the city seems to glow from within.
This collection of Oaxaca photographs from the past decade makes me so happy! These are some of my favorite pictures of all time. Enjoy!
This is an absolutely biased opinion, but I think Oaxaca is a paradise for photographers. Sunlight is abundant here, as are fiestas! People are always celebrating something and they welcome photographers with open arms and maybe a bit of mezcal. I consider myself lucky I was born in this state. To this day, I still make it a priority to visit at least twice a year. Over the past decade, I have been fortunate not only to photograph the city of Oaxaca but also across many different regions of the state. In photographing Oaxaca, I have come to understand my roots in more complex ways, and be proud of them.
As a photographer, I consider Oaxaca one of the best places to photograph using analog photography. The bright light makes it possible to work with low ISO speeds. Some of my favorite films to photograph in the state are Ilford SFX200 for black and white and Kodak Portra 400 for color photography. Thanks to the Centro Fotografico Manuel Alvarez Bravo, you'll find yourself in good company while photographing in the city, as this museum has for the past 20 years formed generations of great photographers, many of which are still using film to this day.
Yes, you can, but be prepared to get it at a premium. Look for “Central Fotográfica,” a small photo lab located a few blocks south of the Zocalo.
Yes, the Centro Fotografico Manuel Alvarez Bravo has a working black and white lab where you can develop your own film or have the technician develop it for you. I absolutely recommend their work. Photography goods, however, are in short supply in Oaxaca, so I’d definitely recommend you bring your own negative sleeves and paper if you need contact sheets. I don’t recommend having color film developed in Oaxaca. The labs I have tried have all returned my film scratched.
Oaxaca is still one of the safest places in Mexico to photograph. However, when traveling to Mexico as a photographer, I’d recommend having all your gear insured and making sure your insurance covers international travel. Luckily, I have never had any crime issues while taking pictures in Oaxaca, but my equipment has sometimes been in danger of being broken at the carnivals!
The best place to stay in Oaxaca as a photographer is the Hotel Marqués Del Valle. This hotel is located in the heart of Oaxaca City, the Zocalo. You can practically take photos all day from your balcony. If you are feeling more adventurous, try some of the multiple airbnbs around the city (this is a secret, but my favorite one is Comala). Some of my favorite neighborhoods to stay and photograph in are: Centro Historico, Barrio de Jalatlaco, and Xochimilco.
I have found that the best times to visit Oaxaca for photography are:
This gallery of pictures of Oaxaca was collected over the last 10 years of travels to the state. If you are interested in a print, please send me a message and we can discuss further details.
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