Brenda Bazán captures the essence of a community of artisans in Oaxaca to celebrate her identity as a Mexican-American and spread awareness to this culture that rarely gets a platform to be seen and heard.
At Elinchrom, we believe in the power of photography. Few other mediums can create almost instantaneous connections on a human level with respect and nuance, something we feel the world needs now more than ever. For that reason, we chose to view the launch of the Elinchrom ONE as an opportunity to share our platform with photographers whose work we admire not just for the execution but their intent. We view the ability to highlight the work of photographers who use their art to bring attention to complex issues as a great privilege, and Brenda Bazán is one of those photographers.
Earlier this year, we contacted Brenda and offered her full support on a project of her choice. She chose to create a body of work that captures the essence of a community of artisans in Oaxaca to celebrate her identity as a Mexican-American and spread awareness to this culture that rarely gets a platform to be seen and heard.
“As a photographer, I think it is essential to use my medium to tell stories. One of the promises I have made to myself is that I will always photograph subjects to amplify their visibility and tell their meaningful stories.
It is also important to me to tell stories from my experience and identity as Mexican-American. This is how I ended up choosing to photograph artisans in Oaxaca as my project for this campaign.”
“Crafting is a huge part of the life of each artisan; it is part of their culture and identity. Everything they create comes from a long-standing tradition unique to each village, all made from the heart with their unique touch. Through artisans, these techniques have survived and are passed on from generation to generation. It is this passion, pride, and modesty for their work that called me to them.“
“I believe photography is compelling; using it to give back and doing humanitarian work is very important to me. When you have a camera, you are often let in places many can’t access, and it is your responsibility to bring back images that will let others know what it is like to inspire change or just raise awareness.
While the majority of the time, photography is not revolutionary, it allows us to see beyond our comfort zones into the lives of many around the world. It is through photography that we can open our minds to different traditions, lifestyles, cultures, etc. This is probably an underestimated power. To see what others’ experience is like, without meeting them or traveling, is invaluable and can help many people understand and accept the differences that make the human experience rich and beautiful.”
“Each and every artisan shared a piece of them and their work with me. Some shared how difficult last year had been with the COVID-19 pandemic affecting tourism so much since their market and livelihoods depend on tourism. Others showed excitement to be photographed and to show their work with the world. And others were more personal and shared the inspiration behind their work, like painter Gerardo Navarro who read the beautiful stories he wrote to accompany each of his watercolor pieces. With every artisan, there was a feeling of gratitude and joy while photographing them.”
“Using the Elinchrom ONE on location was amazing. The light is very lightweight and doesn’t have to be plugged in anywhere, which is the best way to move around easily or squeeze in small or cluttered spaces. Our day shooting in Oaxaca was pretty hectic, going from one location to another all day, but packing and unpacking was never a hassle.”
“I also loved that the battery life was pretty long; I probably used less than 15% of the battery charge in the entire day. And I absolutely loved that I can charge it on the go with a portable battery if needed.
I cannot wait to use the ONE in future work, it was such a fun light to work with, and it opens up so many possibilities!”
“Working with Elinchrom and knowing that the artisans would have a large platform to tell their story is very fulfilling. The experience I take with me is truly something I will treasure. I am always grateful to the people who let me into their lives to capture a part of it, and to have been received with such joy and gratitude is very heart-warming. This project inspires me to continue to search for people and stories to share.”
What's Brenda’s next adventure?
“I am planning a documentary portrait project about queer people of color from the border and the connection they have with their parents.”
“Another project I am eager to start is a reportage on people who have owned some of the oldest family businesses in my hometown, Brownsville, Texas, and seeing how the city has changed around them through the decades, especially in the last few years that downtown has been undergoing a revitalization project and signs of gentrification have become apparent.”
“And I hope starting next year I can go back to Oaxaca to document Muxes through portraits. Muxes are considered a third gender in Zapotec cultures. They are people who were assigned male at birth, but dress and behave like women characteristically do.”
Brenda’s current lighting kit is:
Elinchrom ONE Off Camera Flash Kit, Elinchrom Rotalux Octabox (135cm / 53") & Umbrella Shallow Translucent 105 cm (41")