The Capture vs The Pose on Ash Wednesday in Antigua Guatemala

Rudy Giron: AntiguaDailyPhoto.com &emdash;

I love doing street photography and capturing candid images from the streets of Antigua Guatemala. In the almost eight years I have been publishing daily photographs here, I have amassed a sizable collection of split-second authentic, true slices of life.

When a subject poses to have his or her photograph taken, the subject tries to project a message about himself or herself by how he or she “poses”, by the attitude of his or her body language or facial expression.

Portrait and posed photos are contrived declares Chris Weeks in his book Street Photography for the Purist. As much as possible I aim to capture authentic and true slices of life.

Street Photography takes direct aim at this “falseness” by taking the camera into the streets to record “true” documentary moments in life. The subjects are usually unaware as they go about their lives, having no time to strike a pose to enhance or send a particular message about those lives.

Rudy Giron: AntiguaDailyPhoto.com &emdash; Ash Wednesday in Antigua Guatemala

pushwigh#@%&?¿… blip! Alert, alert, we break from our regular programing Details, details, details to bring you this important news update.

From early in the morning, around 8 a.m., there were sightings of hundreds, no, make it thousands of people with dark markings in their foreheads. The first sightings were reported near the church of San Francisco El Grande, right after the mass service, but by 9 o’clock in the morning, reports were coming in from all over Antigua Guatemala.

People driving their cars were seen with this strange dark mark in their foreheads. Soon students, children, elderly people, workers, everywhere you looked there were these markings. There were gatherings of tourists to discuss what in the world could be the cause of the markings considering that people continue their lives like usual, like if they were not aware of the marks in their foreheads, which, believe me, were pretty obvious.

By noon, even tourists visiting the Top City of Antigua Guatemala were experiencing these marks that looked like crosses drawn very hastily. There were even reports in Twitter from Antigua Guatemala’s wireless internet cloud at Central Park. Like a pandemic, by late afternoon, the twit reports were coming in from all over the world turning the news into a Twitter trend; with updates every few seconds.

Finally, an unspecified number of adventurous travelers found the courage to approach some of the marked foreheads and asked the people the bore them why in the worlds everything seemed to continue as business as usual even though there were very obvious marks in their heads. The response came in with a wonderful smile and the marked people informed the unaware tourists that today was Ash Wednesday, which was observed by going to mass and by having their foreheads painted with an ash cross. They also said that Ash Wednesday was the beginning of Lent, the 40-day penitent period before the Holy Week.

Please, send in your reports from your part of the world and share with us your impressions regarding this fairly unknown Catholic ritual.

© 2014, Rudy Girón. All rights reserved.

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  • NYChapin

    Awesome shots Rudy. In the second one, I am attracted by what we do not see !
    I could not help notice that the young lady in the background does not have an ash cross ion her forehead. And her expression is total badass.

    (I’m guessing that they are grandma, mom, daugther trio?)

    • NYChapin, you have unconverted another true reason for the second picture.

  • El Canche

    Interesting the difference between the pose and the capture…we had a photographer do some family portraits some years ago and he would tell people to pose and make out like he was taking the photos, when in fact he waited until just after or just before to actually take them, when people were unaware. I think NY Chapin is right about the family trio…looks like he gets the postcard for winning the contest you were about to announce?!
    Also just LOVED the Antigua is happy video compilation!! It just made me…..well; HAPPY!!

  • Rosemary

    Love this vidio. Makes me Happy that I will coming to La Antigua soon! Getting ready : ) Thank you for putting this together.