Love, life and the day of the dead: Fascinating photographs capture the charisma of the Mexican people
- Sweet Dreams is an insightful new photobook from the London photography collective Tripod City
- Street photography-style shots have captured tender moments of love and loss in Mexico
- From Day of the Dead celebrations to everyday experiences, this is the Mexico you don't see on TV
A toddler in a wrestling mask. A dog in a skeleton outfit. A scary demon.
It would be easy to dismiss Mexican photobook Sweet Dreams as just another look at the Day of the Dead festival. But the images, taken by a trio of photographers, cut a lot deeper than just people in funny costumes.
They capture the everyday experiences, love and death of regular people living and working in Mexico with sensitivity and style.
A woman in Guadalajara takes time out to make a phone call and is captured by Chris Lee of Tripod City
Tripod City captured both the everyday and the extraordinary in their month long shoot in Mexico. On the left, a man stops for a portrait shot in Mexico City. On the right, a more traditional Day of the Dead celebration in the village of Soledad Etla in Oaxaca
British photographers Charlie Kwai, Chris Lee and Paul Storrie are otherwise known as Tripod City, a trio who travel the world to document different cultures. Their work explores the difference between cultural stereotypes and reality.
After projects in Asia and India, the photographers headed to Mexico to explore beyond the preconceptions that many have about the country.
Charlie Kwai said: 'We found Mexico to be a truly welcoming, charismatic and passionate country, based on the people we met and photographed. Any place we’ve visited has almost certainly been different to what was expected.?
'There is no amount of research or planning that can be done to preempt this experience of a place. Our work is about challenging this, which is why we try to visit a place without preconceived ideas.'
The trio, who are all based in London, spent most of their time in Mexico City in the lead up to the Day of the Dead ceremony in October 2016.
This Mexican City street shot could almost be a scene posed for a modern day painting
The photographers struck up conversations with people they stopped for portraits in Mexico City. On the right is a stunning monument to the Day of the Dead celebration
This scene is Chris Lee's favourite shot of the shoot. He said: 'For me it encapsulates the passing on of tradition and Mexican identity'
Batman waits with his child during San Andrés Mixquic's Day of the Dead celebrations
The trio focused on love and death in the city, snapping intimate moments between couples and parents and children as everyday life swirled around them.
Kwai said: 'Street photography is spontaneous and unexpected, all about embracing the moment as and when it presents itself. We focus on photographing people across as much of the country as we can, capturing an honest, diverse representation of daily life.
'Sweet Dreams explores themes of love, life and death, inspired by the warmth and compassion that we experienced everywhere we went. We purposefully wanted a title that left things open to the imagination, but for us, Sweet Dreams represents affection, desire and sentimentality.'?
The photography trio captured everyday moments on the streets of?Xalapa in Mexico
Young love: Sweet Dreams is about love as well as death in Mexico and the team saw no shortage of tender moments on their travels
Love is in the air everywhere in Mexico City. These ladies stopped for a quick pose for Sweet Dreams
Kwai said: 'I get up close and personal to capture fleeting moments with energy and drama'
Everyone gets in on the dressing up in Mexico City
Tripod City mix shots captured on the fly with careful portrait shots. Each of the photographers shoots in a different style.
Kwai said: 'I get?up close and personal to capture fleeting moments with energy and drama. Chris keeps a distance between himself and his subjects, framing people in their natural environment, like characters on a stage.?
'Paul engages directly with people, composing portraits that give his subjects a platform to present themselves to the camera.'
Kwai and his partners found no end of willing subjects in their travels.
He said: 'People were generally very relaxed and easy-going about having their picture taken. The candid moments either went unnoticed or sparked up interesting conversations about who we were and why we were in Mexico.'?
After spending time in Mexico City, the trio headed out to smaller villages to capture a more rural side of Mexico.
Kwai said: 'We were initially in Mexico City in the lead up to Day of the Dead festival and regularly visited the Zocalo where festivities were brewing.
'On the the day itself, there was a huge parade, where hundreds of people were dressed up in some really inventive costumes. It was clear to us at the time that Mexico takes dressing up to a whole new level, however this was apparently their first ever major parade in the centre of Mexico City, which we assumed had been happening for years.?
'Following that, we went to a village called San Andrés Mixquic where in contrast we got to witness more of the traditional, sentimental and sombre side to Day of the Dead, visiting the local cemetery and people's homes to see their private altars or "Ofrendas" that commemorate the deceased.
'In another village called Soledad Etla in Oaxaca we happened to arrive at a time when there was a big party that evening where the whole village dress up in some crazy outfits and parade around town with a big brass band.'
This skeleton dog shot from Mexico City is Charlie Kwai's favourite shot. He said: 'The skeleton dog embodies everything that is Sweet Dreams for me. He’s dead and alive at the same time – and clearly living the dream doing it'
The photographers kept an eye out for stunning street style across the country to challenge preconceived ideas about Mexicans.?Storrie found this snappily dressed gentleman on the streets of Mexico City (left). On the right is an example of colourful street fashion on the streets of Guadalajara
Monsters Inc: Dressing up takes all forms as Mexico City celebrated the Day of the Dead on October 2016
Sticking to the streets and taking in the variety of life around you is certainly Tripod City's magic formula when it comes to captivating shoots and Kwai recommends doing the same as a tourist
Here Tripod City has captured two love-struck youngsters by a tree - with a young woman nearby looking across at them
Paul Storrie 'engages directly with people, composing portraits that give his subjects a platform to present themselves to the camera'. The book, says Tripod City, is an 'optimistic fairy tale'
The month long shoot certainly threw up plenty for the team to photograph.?
Kwai said: 'Sweet Dreams is an optimistic fairy tale that embraces love and death simultaneously. The skeleton dog embodies everything that is Sweet Dreams for me. He’s dead and alive at the same time – and clearly living the dream doing it. Photographs that leave enough room to wonder why is what I love the most. I think this one does that.'
His partner Chris Lee said: 'My favourite photograph is of the little girl dressed as a skeleton in a pink dress surround by her family. It was taken on Day of the Dead at the main Zocalo in Mexico City, and for me it encapsulates the passing on of tradition and Mexican identity. I was particularly attracted to how the truck behind them removes context from the situation, focusing on the people and what they are doing.'
Sticking to the streets and taking in the variety of life around you is certainly Tripod City's magic formula when it comes to captivating shoots and Kwai recommends doing the same as a tourist.
He said: 'Immerse yourself in the culture, learn a bit of Spanish and experience life among the locals on the streets. There is so much to see and experience beyond the usual tourist attractions.'?
- Sweet Dreams by Tripod City will be available to buy from the end of the year. It costs ￡40 (+P&P) and is available to pre-order at?www.tripodcity.co.uk.
Tripod City mix street scenes with posed shots to reveal a multifaceted Mexico full of character.?In Soledad Etla in Oaxaca the team found that the whole village dressed up for the annual celebration of death (right)
The photography team captured the first big Day of the Dead parade in Mexico City
Outside of the capital, Tripod City captured an older way of life. In?San Andrés Mixquic Charlie Kwai shot some of the ‘Ofrendas’ that commemorate the deceased
A colourful shrine in?Veracruz City was shot by Tripod City's Chris Lee
Getting it to go:?Mexico City was full of beautiful fleeting moments for Charlie Kwai
A man stares down the London team's camera in?Guanajuato, Mexico
Tripod City spot everyday scenes that make stunning photographs. This woman was snapped by Chris Lee in Mexico City
Pretty in pink: This young girl was discovered in?Oaxaca City by the Sweet Dreams team
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