While in Mexico, our main target was to visit the Day of the Dead festival, Dia de los Muertos. Mexicans get together on two days at the start of November to celebrate the dead. This is a very unique thing to do. Different cultures address death in varying ways, especially in the Western world where little is taught about dealing with the dead and dying. It is rare for death to be celebrated in the way that Mexicans do on these days and so it is a very special thing to witness. It was suggested that we go to Mixquic cemetery in Mexico City. It was a huge festival with street stalls, food, things for sale and a lead up to the event that involved all the graves being decorated and then candles being lit in the evening.
We spent four or five hours walking around the cemetery and as the light started to fade we made the decision to climb up on the back wall as we knew that many people would try to get this vantage point and so we gained position before all the spots were taken on the wall. The candles were lit around seven pm and being on the wall gave us height to capture the whole cemetery in one photo, so we could show the whole scene. Although we had captured close up shots within the cemetery throughout the day in order to tell the story of this event, we agreed that we wanted to fit the whole cemetery into one photograph when they were lighting the candles to capture the entire atmosphere of the celebration. A lightning storm hit while we stood on the wall and although we got soaked we sat it out to get the shots we wanted. We had to keep our equipment covered with umbrellas and makeshift protectors made from plastic bags; we had come all the way to Mexico to see this and if the families decorating the graves were still going ahead, we weren’t going to stop capturing the photos when the images were there to be taken.