I want to share with you a few faces that we encountered in Oaxaca and Chiapas states in Southern Mexico. These faces belong to people whose lives are quite different from ours. They belong to people that do hard physical work, eat a restricted diet, face uncertainty... but they share life within close family and community groups, some show the genetics of Indian ancestry and genes from Spanish ancestors. These are the faces of survivors who have prevailed despite great challenges.
Musician - Mayan facial features -
Our face is our announcement to the world – this is who I am! When I are far from home and see a familiar face…I say "I know that person" ...Imagine how many facial memories are stored in my brain – If I can see someone for a few hours, I can recognize them years later – Human evolution placed great value on us as social animals – We value kinship, friendships, as well as those that may be a threat… It is the same with people in other cultures.
Dona Francisca - 93 years old
In many societies people know who they are because of their families, their age, their sex, their occupations, their religion. Many people in this world accept this as a given. Particularily in affluent countries people are often driven to push boundaries and seek a different identify through education, moving, work training.
Three elders sitting together at a party
What makes a good photo is cultural – With Mexican Indians, most people made a neutral face when being photographed – no concept of smiling –
When I face a camera, I put on my “photo face” – and it is not really me. Judy, my wife, says that I put on a "just off the boat" face. Once in a while I see a picture that someone took candidly of me and I feel like saying – is that really me?
If my goal is to capture in a photo the essential character of a face – of a person – if the smile is a false mask then I have failed. A good photo may even be troubling if it shows more of life than makes us comfortable.