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Photographies by Raúl Ortega

Text by Elena Poniatowska


Learn not to photograph was one of the teachings that Raúl Ortega learnt from the indigenous. They prevented him to use the camera. “I traveled a lot, I negotiated endlessly, and sometimes, they didn’t let me take photographs. Some times, I was allowed to be a witness, but sometimes I couldn’t get even that.” Raúl got desperate. He was watching things that excited him, but using the camera was banned. It was demoralizing . One part of Raúl’s heart was happy to be there, but another was constricted because, in the end, the images are the photographer’s crop and they are hardly repeated.

Does giving up make you grow ? Do we learn more from a failure than from a triumph? Could a pause in the path we are walking be beneficial? Could it be that we can achieve a better work by living together without looking for our own benefit, without judging based on our own standards? The answer is yes in Raúl Ortega’s case. When Raúl stopped taking photo- graphs, he built up his spirit, the learning strengthened him, he acquired a new way of being, and he was enriched.

To be in contact with the Tzeltales, Tzotziles, Tojolobales, Choles and Zoques indigenous’ intimacy without asking them anything, but their closeness, made Raúl develop his tolerance, and a capacity to muse on things that he didn’t know he had.

Before that, he could’ve died before not taking a good photograph. Now, he was letting pass all of those chances, and even though he had to bit his lips with anger, he learnt to wait.


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