Winter arrived quite harshly here in The Hague (see photo below!). I therefore, naturally, left The Hague. For Chiapas!
And by Chiapas, I mean the jungly, mountainy, Zapatista infested southern state of Mexico on the border with Guatemala. And I loved it.
While travelling in the Chiapas region of Mexico, I sought to take photos of children in less fortunate situations so as to help update the website of an organization I support called "Children of Mexico" which supports programs to improve the situation of children who are either laborers or on the street in Mexico. Here are a few I took.
What I didn't expect was how difficult it was to get good photos of children on a short schedule. I admire those photographers that get to really spend time in an area and get the locals used to your presence, especially in areas not used to, or like my case - hostile to the idea of having their photo taken..
In San Juan Chamula, an autonomous region of Chiapas where outside police or military is not allowed, they are particularly hostile to being photographed. Parents will pull their children behind them even if they see your camera. Photography in the main church (or the Christmas procession for which I was there to see) is strictly prohibited... heck, I saw them attempting to throw someone out of the town when they tried to photograph the religious procession!
In fact, while photographing the above child playing in the well, I was accosted by an old woman yelling at me in the local language of Tzotzil (not Spanish which I speak fluently!), and went running to the mother who own a little shop. Luckily I think the mom was not too upset with it, especially after I bought something from her.
This girl is dressed very traditionally which was one of my goals of this visit after I arrived and saw them. The local clothing here is fascinating. The skirt is like a shag rug and the men wear vest just like this in white. It was cool seeing the local police strutting down the street with these big fluffy vests on, as if they has sheep wrapped around them!
This was probably the only time I had children actually smiling for a second while I had the camera pointed at them. But it was short lived as the mom hissed at them and they turned away holding their hands in front of their faces. Plus it doesn't help being a tall (6ft3in/285cm) white dude with a big orange goatee!
Here you can see more ladies walking past with their local skirts and some on the ground in front being sold. This boy was very interested in me and the big black groowth attached off the front of my face.
I am very familiar with Mexico having spent lots of time there in the last few years, but never had I really seen this side of it, even when visiting Oaxaca.
It was fascinating to see the mix between the Spanish injected Catholicism intertwined with the local Mayan beliefs/traditions. I highly recommend visiting the area... and donating to Children of Mexico!!
Though I don't think I managed to capture anything more special than the typical "poor unfortunate kids from underdeveloped country" tear-jerker photos, I'm still pleased. And check back as I've not finished uploading all of them.