From architecture to street photography, Mexican-born Architect and Photographer, Francisco Marin, marries both arts to visually illustrate the moments that define his culture and heritage. Learn how architecture influences Francisco’s creative vision of documenting details, angles, and perspectives.
1. Tell us about your body of work, “Día de Muertos”.
The intention of these photographs is to illustrate and show the audience the event that takes place year after year in honor of the ancestors of families in Mexico, my country.
I have tried to create images by sectioning them into chapters to understand the different aspects that make up this event. In the end, a short story summarizes all these aspects in a single event.
The reason why I documented this event was not entirely intentional to create an X-ray of the festivities. In the quest to increase activity at Singapore’s Leica Akademie, I proposed to organize a trip for Leica friends and photographers in 2019 or 2020 to Mexico. The chosen date is also accidental. Approximately 1 and a half years after my father’s death, my mother was in need of emotional support at home in Mexico. The date I could travel to Mexico was the end of October and the beginning of November.
At first, my idea was to capture different photographs for marketing materials to promote the trip. When I arrived, I found that my mother was still affected, and I decided to invite her to travel to some cities in the country to relax. I completely forgot the dates of the festivities of the Day of the Dead (or All Saints’ Day for the Church) and when I started to see the altars and decorations during the trip, I thought it would affect my mother a lot more. It was not like that; the more we watched, the more we remembered my father, not because of his death but because of how he lived and enjoyed many simple things.
In the end, it resulted in a journey of reflection, the culture of venerating the dead in Mexico is to keep them alive through the memory of what they liked, whether it was food, drink, music, or toys, (in the case of children) and remembering that they are already there. Death is part of the cycle of life and we cannot escape. My mother was happy to remember him as he deserved.
2. Of all the images in this series, which speaks out to you the most?
The photographs that I like the most are where the children are included. Knowing that they are interested in continuing the traditions that have been in place since pre-Hispanic times and their religious adaptations during the colony makes me feel proud of them and of my cultural heritage.
3. What camera equipment did you use to create your series?
These series are captured with the Leica CL and Leica Q. I used these cameras because they are a great combo. Plus I was the Ambassador for the APS-C System and instructor for the two cameras.
4. Who initially inspired you to pick up a camera?
Definitely, my father is the one who inspired me to take the camera and capture images. He wasn’t a photographer by trade, but he was great at capturing the memories of our lives as a family. He liked candid photographs very much of all of us but more than anything else, to photograph the love of his life… my mother.
5. With an architectural and photography background, how is your creative voice and vision impacted by both elements?
Architecture and photography are very connected. Both are arts and both alone are complicated. By putting the two together, the level of complexity increases. How to make art from art? Being an architect, my way of photographing is not from the point of view of the photographer but of the architect. Architects place a lot of emphasis not only on the spaces where human beings interact but also on the details that make a space pleasant or sometimes uncomfortable. Architecture and photography can both be misleading. Therefore, architectural photography can be very demanding and suffer a lot of criticism.
In the end, what I am looking for in my architectural photography is to play with perspectives and angles that approximate what the architects had in mind when creating the space, the façade, or the ensemble. I look for the details and something very important, I enjoy looking up and looking down.
6. Are there photographers who have influenced your visual style?
In general, I like to appreciate any photographs taken by any photographer at any level. There is always something to learn and each one brings a different way of seeing the world. There are photographers who have helped me through their images to try to find my voice, although I consider that I still have a long way to go to get where I want to be.
From Mexico: Guillermo Kahlo (Carl Wilhelm Kahlo) (1871-1941) (Father of Frida Kahlo), Manuel Alvarez Bravo (1902-2002), Pedro Meyer, and Graciela Iturbide.
From around the world: Andreas Gursky, Didier Massard, Hiroshi Sugimoto, Norman McGrath (my architectural photography teacher), and Michael Kenna.