July 23, 2017 – Los Muertos

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I remember overhearing a conversation in a coffee shop some years ago where a gentleman said something like this:
“I always have people ask me why I’m so serious. I often overhear people telling their friends not to take ‘this’ or ‘that’ too seriously. And I got to thinking about it. If we need to learn how to not take life so damn seriously, we ought also to learn to not take death so seriously.”

I’m not sure, but it stuck with me. A simple exchange, maybe a completely spontaneous thought from a total stranger I was eavesdropping on – but it stuck with me. I think about it often, especially after losing several friends, relatives, and acquaintances over the past several years. It’s unusual to me – at least intellectually – to be so incredibly afraid of something that literally every single living thing in the cosmos will eventually have to do, which is to die.

Different cultures treat death differently, but there are always common themes of loss, sadness, tragedy and redemption, rebirth, or some form of ‘life after death.’ I’ve enjoyed photographing various rituals and discovering some of the nuances of life and death celebrations in the American Southwest and Mexico.

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July 17, 2017 – All Souls Celebration

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“I shall not die of a cold. I shall die of having lived.”
~Willa Cather

I could fill several volumes with images gathered from the All Souls’ Procession. I haven’t made it out to the celebration every single year, but I have missed very few. In more than fifteen years, I still think this is the one that I enjoy the most – a photograph of a random young girl in the middle of 4th Avenue. This wasn’t staged – I just turned around and saw this little girl;she looked at me with my camera turned towards her.

A small moment that I will never forget.

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June 24, 2017 – Caitlin Strachen

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Caitlin is a magnetic and multi-talented woman. She’s also effortlessly mysterious; she seems almost shy and reserved when you spend time around her because she’s incredibly thoughtful and quiet. But she springs into action when the spotlight lands on her. Today’s images come from the 2012 ‘Cabaret de los Muertos’ in Bisbee, a nascent variety show that, sadly, only lasted two seasons. But hey, that’s small-town life. When one tradition fails to take root, there are always other interesting concoctions that spring up.

At the time, Caitlin was still studying art and living a couple hundred miles north in Prescott, Arizona, but with roots and family in Bisbee, she made the trip down and dazzled. Her first set was a tap-dance, dressed in red and black, and she caught everybody’s eye. In local theater, some presentations are humorously under-rehearsed (but usually beloved because the performers are locally known). This performance, however, was elevated beyond that modest ‘community theater’ standard. She absolutely killed it.

And I don’t think it’s even possible to take a bad photograph of her- truth words.

Porcelain skin, a dancer’s physique, and a captivating smile – she is a pleasure to watch. She sings, plays the flute, and dances, and she does all of these things with a grace, elegance, and professionalism that’s rare, especially for a woman her age. This quiet, seemingly shy blonde girl – with the perfect curly locks – is something special to behold.

But you’ll have to go to Bisbee if you want to see her.

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