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Mexican Photography

Mexican photography
Figure 1.--This is one of Abel Briquet's photographs probably taken about 1890 for sale to tourists. It shows the family of a Mexican ranchero near Cordoba in Vera Cruz. We see mother, grand mother, children, and perhaps some aunts. Rancho means that the father, who for some reason is absent, actually owned land. Most Mexicans did not and were landless peasants. Most of the land was primarily in hands of a few families--hacendados who owned huge estates. This was what Madero's attempt at modest reformns into a massive social revolution.

Photography was a largey European and American innovation. But studio and other photographic activity soon begab in Latin America, including Mexico. The first photographs taken in Mexico as in many other countries appeared shortly after Frenchman Louis Daguerre invented modern photography--the Daguerreotype (1839). Early Mexican photographic types, both the Daguerreotype and the Ambrotype, however, are very rare. And our Mexican archive overall is small. Thus we have no such examples. It was not until the French Intervention (1864–67) that any substantial numbers of photographs become available. This primarily meant albumen prints like the CDV at first and then cabinet cards. The CDV was another French innovation. Photography in the 19th century was mostly studio portarits, but the country's poverty and small middle-class as in other Latin American countries limited the size of the resulting 19th century photographic record. Important photographers whose interest in photography went beyond the studio were Charles B. Waite, Abel Briquet, Guillermo Kahlo, and William Henry Jackson,. They often focused more on the landscape, buildings, and engineering projects more than the people which is what our website primarily deals with. They did, however, record some intersing real life scenes in the era before point and shoot cmeras were readily available. We notice Briquet taking photogtphs for sale to tourists, incvluding dcdns of Mexica families and daily life. Jackson is one of the most important American photographers of the Old West, but he recorded some Mexican scenes as well. Photographers such as Agustín Victor Casasola and Kahlo commomly recorded ceremonial occasions, especially buildings and public works. With advances in half-tone terchnology, newspaper owner Rafael Reyes Spíndola reproduced the first photographs in Mexican newspapers (1896). And reproduction quality rapidly improved. Porfirio Diaz used photography to record the achievenents of the Porfiriato, but the beginning of photojournalism recorded the fall of Diaz. We have not found a lot of images until the Mexican Revolution. The explosion of photojournalism has allowed us to build on of the larger wnsites on the Mexican Revolutio (1911-20). The various Revolutionary leaders were quick to seize opportunities to publicize their exploits. Here Pancho Villa was standout for a time. Occuring at about the same time as World War I in Europe, the era was the precursor of modern war photography. The Mexican Revolution began first which means the process began in Mexico (1911). Hugo Brehme recorded many important images of the Revolution. A moderm photographer is Rafael Doniz. He has created many beaufutul imges of traditional Mexico just as it was beginning to develop a modern economy. Mexico is one of the larger Latin American countries and increasing prosperity in recent years has resulted in a corresonding expansion of photoography annd the photographic record. This has espcially meant digital photography. Unfortunately, our website has attracted realtivively few Latin American readers in contrast to Europe and even Asia. So our Latin American pages, including Mexico are limited. Reader contributiins are an impprtant part of building our website.


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Created: May 2, 2004
Last updated: 10:05 PM 5/18/2023