View of archaeological ruins at Monte Albán near the city of Oaxaca

On Tourism Photography – Oaxaca, Mexico

In an earlier post I noted that for me the photos I take while traveling tend to fall into one of three categories. These are:

  1. Subjects seen in the tourist destination, but not seen at home;
  2. Subjects seen at home, but not expected to be seen in the tourist destination; and,
  3. Subjects that are expected to be seen both at home and in the tourist destination, but which have a fresh look in a new context.

In the earlier post I illustrated these three categories with three photos from China. Here I would like to do the same with several photos from southern Mexico, each in or near the city of Oaxaca.

Category I – Subjects seen there, but not seen at home

In Mexico there are many subjects available to the photographer that are seen there, but not readily seen in most of the United States. Examples include the Spanish colonial architecture, the rich diversity of art forms such as the magnificent murals found on and in public buildings, the rich traditions of handcrafts, the weaving, and the large number of indigenous traditions and festivals. Here are three photos to represent the first category.

1. Spectacular archaeological ruins

View of archaeological ruins at Monte Albán near the city of Oaxaca
Monte Albán (Click the image for larger size.)

2. Ornately decorated churches

Interior view of Santo Domingo de Guzmán church in the city of Oaxaca - Elaborate gold plated decorations
Santo Domingo – Interior (Click image for larger size.)

3. Traditional festivals and indigenous dress

Young woman wearing the traditional festive dress of Juchitán, Oaxaca.
Traditional Festive Dress – Juchitán de Zaragoza, Oaxaca

This photo was taken during the Guelaguetza festival in July, 2007. The dress shown here is only one of the several designs worn by women from the towns on the Isthmus of Tehuantepec. In this case the young woman is from Juchitán de Zaragoza , Oaxaca.

Category 2: Subjects seen at home, but not expected to be seen in the tourist destination

View of cliffs of calcified rock and surrounding valley
Hierve el Agua – near Mitla, Oaxaca

The first time I went to Mexico in 1964 I did not realize that it was a country with so many mountains. My mental picture of Mexico was created largely by black and white television images from the Sonora desert, or some back lot on a Hollywood production set. The photo above was taken about twenty miles south east of the city of Oaxaca. What appears from a distance to be a waterfall is, in fact, white calcium deposits from pools of water on top of the precipice that form as the dripping water evaporates. The site is know as “Hierve el Agua” (Boiling Water).

Washington State Apple in a Oaxaca Market
Washington State Apple

The snapshot above is that of a Washington State Gala apple. I was surprised to find it in a Oaxaca produce market selling at a lower price than locally grown apples. Reportedly, one of the effects of NAFTA has been to drive small farmers in Mexico out of business as U.S. corporate agriculture can effectively compete, even in Mexico where incomes are low.

Category III: Subjects that are expected to be seen both at home and in the tourist destination, but which have a fresh look in a new context.

Fruits and vegetables in a Oaxaca market

We expect to see fruits and vegetables everywhere, but in Oaxaca most fruits and vegetables are sold in open air markets where vendors carefully arrange their merchandise in attractive displays. To me, the produce always looks more inviting there than here in Wisconsin. Perhaps it is because of the wide variety of produce offered there. It seems that the colors are richer, and despite the Washington state apple shown above, most of the produce is locally grown. I don’t know about the radishes, but the fruit definitely tastes better in Mexico than here in Wisconsin. Most of our fruit is picked well before it is ripe.

3 thoughts on “On Tourism Photography – Oaxaca, Mexico

  1. Hey Cecottle,
    I was wondering on a similar note,, I will be using the lens mainly for tourism photography, and might take it with me on some mountain trips so there may be a little bit of wildlife photography for the lens as well.

    I am mostly interested with the 18mm end of the lens’ ranges- which lens takes better photos at 18mm? Also, I have read that the 18-105mm gets a fair amount of chromatic aberration. Is there easy to use software to reduce it, and is there software to reduce the distortion the lens gives?

    Great Job!


  2. Santo Domingo – Interior
    Traditional Festive Dress
    Escena de Mercado by Miguel Covarrubias

    Love Love Love these… I so love Mexico and always have… It is so difficult to capture the rich color and textures of Mexico with a camera… I can almost smell the church… Thank you for your work…

    Danna Jo


Please feel free to leave comments. I would appreciate knowing who you are so be kind enough to leave your name and email address. Alternatively, Facebook and Twitter users may simply use the quick login buttons that appear when you click on the comment space below. Thanks.

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s