There’s a myth that declares that the Maya people don’t like to be photographed.
Something I have noticed in the over two years I have been leading photo walks is that photographers are afraid to get close or to even engage the people they are trying to photograph. Often, they try to sneak in photos not very well composed or even exposed because they believe that the subjects that they find attractive enough to want to photograph them will say no.
Don’t get me wrong, I still like and prefer to do candid street photography. However, for the last few years I have been enjoying the connexion and possible friendship that can result from street portraits. The human interaction and knowing something about so many other humans is often so rewarding. Even the exchange of smiles and laughs can put me in such a good mood.
Take for instance this abuelita cobanera [grandma from Cobán] who did not only smiled and laughed with me, but also shared some of her delicious cobanera food with me. I simply approached the group of Maya from Cobán, Poqomchi’ I believe they told me, to talk about their food since I noticed they were about to have lunch. We crossed a few sentences and questions and answers and within a couple of minutes I had broken the ice. From this point forward I was allowed to photograph not only the food but to make portraits of them. I didn’t do it because they were having lunch and I did not want to imposed. However, I was offered a plate with their carne guisada and a slice of tamal viajero. How could I refuse, right?
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