The Art of Photography: Graciela Iturbide

Graciela Iturbide

Graciela Iturbide

Graciela Iturbide at home in Mexico City. Photo by Doug Hall.

I don’t know exactly when the great photographer Graciela Iturbide entered my consciousness but it was a good day.

Buried in my notes are two expressions related to her that have guided me in bettering my photography.

In the first, Graciela quotes her mentor, photographer Manuel Álvarez Bravo: “Hay tiempo, hay tiempo.” It means there is time, there is time to take a photograph. Rushing the shot, not being as selective as I should be, making sure all the corners of the frame are cared for, tiny details like that, those are some of my photographic weaknesses.

Álvarez Bravo was included in a three-man show in New York in 1935. His fellow presenters were Henri Cartier Bresson and Walker Evans. Advice from someone of his stature is welcomed at any time from anyone, much less from his former assistant.

The second quote I scribbled down after watching a short film about Graciela that was produced by the Tate Modern in London. She said, “I need to have complicity with the people to be able to take their photos.”

Finally someone gave me license to ignore photography tutors who insist one must not let a subject on the street know you are photographing them. Now I almost always catch the attention of my subjects before I click the shutter.

When the documentary filmmaker Ted Forbes of Texas provided me with an opportunity to guide him around Mexico City, I jumped at the chance. One of Ted’s interview subjects would be Graciela Iturbide. In my opinion she is one of the top living photographers, not in Mexico but in the world.

This week Ted’s documentary about Graciela appeared on his YouTube channel (327k subscribers). In the near future Ted will chronicle two other Mexican photographers of international acclaim. But for me the day we spent with Graciela at her home in Coyoacán was a highlight of recent years and the fulfillment of a dream.

Watch it here: Graciela Iturbide: The Artist Series

The Artist Series: Season 2 Trailer

I’ll let you know when the other documentaries are aired. I was fortunate enough to be along for those, too.

Thanks to Ruth Alegria and Oswaldo Ruiz for the help they provided in pulling off this documentary.

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