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The Men of Santa Ana

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Jeremiah Perry

January 16, 2018

LAS 211

Written Assignment #1

The Men of Santa Ana

Paul Strand was an American Photographer, who captured historic pictures in Mexico during the post-revolutionary period.  His work captures photo realism at its finest, and it brings social awareness to life in rural Mexico during the 1930s.  The first photograph that caught my attention, was a portrait called The Men of Santa Anna.

This is a photograph that was taken in Michoacán, of two men who appear to be dressed in work clothes.  The men appear to have very angry looks on their faces and they do not seem to be happy by the presence of Strand.  Strand captured the pure emotion of the two men by using a trick lens. James Krippner States, “Their guarded and frankly hostile expressions demonstrate the utility if not the ethics of the trick lens.” (Krippner 369) While many might debate the ethics of using a trick lens, I doubt he would have gotten consent by the two men.

One word comes to mind when interpreting this photo from my point of view, “poverty”.  Many people in rural towns of Mexico were extremely poor, often obtaining cheap paying physical labor jobs like factory work and farming. These men do not seem to be in the upper class, and quite frankly they seem to be miserable. They also appear to be slight in stature, which could indicate malnourishment.  You can almost feel the pain they have in their eyes in this photograph.  Many people, especially indigenous people, would work grueling hours for a wage that were often too low to support their families.  This reminds me of a short story by Flores Magon, where he ran into a group of men. Flores states, “We came out of the factory," they say, and after working ten hours, we only make enough for a miserable bean dinner.” (Flores 1) The two men in the photo most likely had families of their own, and it’s heartbreaking to think of the difficult life their children must have lived.

Another reason why poverty comes to mind when looking at this photo is the building. Not only can you see the whitewash chipping of the exterior walls, the actual stucco is cracking away from what appears to be the door jam.  In poor rural areas in Mexico, it was difficult to maintain buildings, and many of them were left to the elements, which had to make it difficult for the people living in them.  It’s clear that living in many of the small rural areas of post-revolutionary Mexico was not for the faint of heart.

Christo with Thorns

Christo with Thorns was another photograph taken by Strand. It is one of the five religious photographs that he took in his Photographs of Mexico. (Krippner 369) An overwhelmingly amount of people in Mexico are of Catholic religion; a religion that holds a significant amount of importance in Mexican history.  It has been the cause of widespread faith among its followers, and it has also been the cause of massive amounts of violence and rebellion.  When I look at this photograph of Jesus wearing a crown of thorns, a couple of different things come to mind.



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