Is this a photograph of a building or a woman? Why, yes–of course.
Both are beautiful, but in different ways. And both give the inquisitive viewer a Mexican history lesson.
The building is the cathedral in Zacatecas, a 16th-Century city in central Mexico. Built in 1752 of pink stone, it is a superb specimen of the Mexican Churrigueresque, or Spanish baroque, style. This architectural period was characterized by elaborate facade decoration, most often executed in stucco. The picture at the right demonstrates why one would want to photograph this astonishing structure.
During our 2008 visit to Zacatecas, Donna and I were walking past the cathedral at noontime and I invited myself into a professional photo shoot of this girl and some of her companions. Who wouldn’t? The city was in the midst of a national charro (Mexican cowboy) festival, and these girls were all wearing the traditional dresses associated with the women of that elite fraternity. The men, as well as their horses, were decked out in some of the most extravagant garb I’d ever need.
This model’s face and dress tell us a bit about the history of this country–particularly its conquest by the Spanish–as, unlike many Mexicans, she appears to have no Native blood. Her dress, while Spanish in style, speaks loudly of the charros’ connection to the land and especially to the cattle industry.
These two subjects, so disparate in nature, are as harmonious as tacos and guacamole.