Last February, at a Joyce Maynard writing workshop in San Marcos, Guatemala, I would ask the Mayan villagers: Puedo tomar una foto? But it wasn’t enough just to know how to speak the phrase. The much-photographed Maya turned their faces away from the camera—a hand up, palm out, fingers splayed. I had a new camera and fumbled with changing lenses, working with the longer 70mm, so that I could shoot from a distance. But even one early morning, when I stood on the beach, a lone fisherman, a mile or two out from shore in his canoe, saw me aiming that lens toward him and waved me off.
Just two days before I left to return to Long Island, I thought to hire one of the Jovenes Maya, young tour guides, to walk around the barrios with me, introduce me to people and, sometimes, stand so that it appeared I was photographing him when the camera was really aimed at a nearby subject. While it was frustrating at first, not to be able to work close-up and direct, I began to be interested in their insistence on remaining unknowable. And then I started to look for that mystery.
In the smoky image above, there is only a hint of the faces of the villagers in this Lenten procession-the indigo and purple dress blurred by the whirl of incense. I’ve posted several images from this series on the portfolio page here, but you can view them up close, October 24th–26th and October 31st, November 1st and 2nd, in the Energy Interpreted art exhibit, at the Bay Area Friends of Fine Arts gallery on Gillette Avenue in Sayville, NY. The show is an exhibit presented by Women Sharing Art. The artworks were printed at Indian HIll Imageworks in Vermont by master printer, Stephen Schaub–hand coated surface on Bergger COT-320 printed on a d’Vinci Printing Solution (12 Color).