Day of the Dead Street Photography

I’ve been shooting street photography for a good few years now, and high on my list of places to visit was Mexico, specifically the Día de Muertos festival, or in English, Day of the Dead. As luck would have it, whilst  wandering the streets of  Budapest in 2018 with fellow 8street members, we decided that we wanted to attend an event for our next group excursion. Try to tell the story a little more, as we do in our wedding work. After not much deliberation over a cocktail, Day of the Dead in Mexico was decided upon!

Fast forward to October 2019 and away we flew. The first few days of the trip were in Mexico city, a beautiful and busy place. Visiting the huge de la Merced market was like nothing I’ve ever seen, so busy, huge variation, and amazing food. After a few days we were ready to move on. For the actual festival, we headed to Oaxaca. A stunning city that I would recommend you visit at any time of year. Everyone is friendly, the food is great and the atmosphere is so relaxed.

The first night in Oaxaca was Halloween, and with a couple of local taxi drivers in tow, we visited the largest cemetery in the area, Pantéon Viejo. It wasn’t what I was expecting. The streets leading to the cemetery are filled with people, small stalls and music. It felt like the walk to a music festival. At the entrance to the cemetery were hundreds of people, a huge music stage and a make shift TV studio with a live broadcast. However inside the cemetery it was a different story. Families sat by the graves of their loved ones, many staying through the night and into the morning. The graves were decorated with beautiful flowers and food and drink was in supply for those in attendance. It was dark and quiet (with the exception of groups playing guitar, just like in Coco!) and I had to use my years of blending in as a documentary wedding photographer to respectfully get images. Not that anyone had an issue with us taking photos, more than one group asked me to sit with them and drink tequila. Which of course I did 😀.

The next few days were in the centre of Oaxaca. Not much happened in the daytime, but come evening it exploded into the greatest of parties. There doesn’t seem to be any published schedule, but you find parades all across the city, often passing by each other. I was lucky enough to find one of the parades gearing up to start outside the centre of town, finishing their makeup and drinking Mezcal from gasoline bottles. After partaking in a Mezcal or two, I followed the parade into town. Everyone dancing and smiling (and drinking more Mezcal) , it was incredible!

Like most people in the UK, my knowledge of day of the dead was limited to the James bond film Spectre. However it’s not quite the same, it’s more free flowing and inclusive than Bond’s version (at least in Oaxaca).  Mexico felt like such a safe place, and the festival is a wonderful thing to see, I recommend heading to Oaxaca to do it!

Some of my favourite Day of the Dead Street Photography below, including some images from Mexico City. Huge thanks to Laura and the boys for letting me jet off across the world for over a week. I missed them like crazy.


More images on my street IG account.

I’m also running a few  Street photography walks / workshops this year, more info here.


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