Diego Huerta Masterclass
It wasn’t until Tuesday that I could go to Zacapu, the closest city to the rancho, and make the payment for the class. I went around and asked a few places if they knew of a business that rented out cars. There was one but at the time it was closed. Just my luck. The next day I called my mom to see if she had the number of the man who rented out cars, but unfortunately he was based in Morelia and it would be a mission and a half just to go and rent a car there. But she went on to provide me a few names of people from the rancho who basically have their own unofficial Uber side hustle. After a couple of phone calls I got a ride set up with Mago, from the rancho next door, who apparently was already heading to Morelia that morning, which made the cost of the ride a little cheaper.
Everything was set and I was ready to go that Sunday morning. I woke up early and my abuela gave me the bendición because I was going off to the city by myself. My abuelo came outside with me just to make sure he knew who I was going with. It was 8:00am the time Mago was suppose to come pick me up, but nothing. I called just to see if she was on her way and it went straight to voicemail. I called every 10 minutes, maybe she just hadn’t turned on her phone? It hit 8:25am and at that point I started to think of other alternatives. The bus hadn’t passed by and it probably wouldn’t until about 9am. I could call a Taxi but my abuelos would freak if I went off alone in a taxi to the city. I mean Michoacán is a Level 4: Do Not Travel state in Mexico. I would still be down to take a taxi, but I wasn’t about to give my grandma a heart attack given her existing heart condition. It finally hit 8:30am and I thought I’d give it one last shot and call Mago again and thankfully this time she picked up! She was just having trouble starting her car but she was on her way. One hour drive later to the airport and a short taxi ride to the city center and I found myself sitting next to a group of young photographers. It’s funny how the universe aligns itself to make possible what seems impossible.
The wisdom shared by Diego Huerta was exactly what I needed to hear. He talked about the adventure of going off and doing the project you want to do without reservations. He put into perspective that he had started 15 years ago with equipment much less advanced than the one we had today, and without the resources. The importance of YouTube and how one can be self-taught in techniques but also putting in the time to actually practice in person. He mentioned the approach one must take to engage people who you would like to photograph, how it is more important to approach people with an interest in them as a person, rather than thinking they are there to give you something that you need. How a simple “Buenos Dias” and an introduction and breaking the ice through jokes can change the dynamic of a conversation into a much friendlier interaction. And how giving them something in return, whether the pictures themselves, or a small monetary compensation could go a long way for people in Mexico.
As we sat there, contemplating all of the knowledge he was sharing he asked us what was holding us back from making our projects happen. The answers varied from equipment, practice, experience, and security. He reflected that none of us said that we needed a camera, and in that we were already ahead of the game because we had more equipment, experience, and education than when he started. He put into perspective that he had to drive hours and hours to get to Michoacán and photograph the Purépechas when all of us being from Michoacán had them in our perimeter yet there was no expert photographer documenting their culture. He mentioned that the closest person to being an expert was a French photographer, he acknowledged that it was nice to see a foreigner be captivated by our indigenous culture and our country, enough to spend time to document it, but he questioned why it couldn’t be any one of us sitting in that room. He also mentioned that if we didn’t hurry up and make whatever idea we had happen, that someone else would, and that someone might be him because of his ambitious nature.
I was inspired on so many levels because everything that he was saying was reiterating everything I already knew. But yet, I had already been in Mexico for more than a month and yet I hadn’t started on my photography project. This just came to show me that even in the big leaps of faith we take, there is still room for fear. Although, I had quit my job and went to live in Mexico, there was still something holding me back from finding my creative liberation. With that consciousness, I can now move forward and conquer the unknown and hopefully something beautiful comes out of it.