In the Summer of 1999 I was in Mexico City running camera on a documentary film about the homeless and orphaned children who live around the Plaza Alameda. As we began shooting, the children regarded us with leeriness, having been exploited countless times by the local media. We eventually gained their trust by putting the video camera away and shooting still photographs using only my 35mm SLR. It occurred to me that we could develop the photos at a local one-hour photo shop and return to the plaza to give copies of the photos to our subjects. This was hugely successful.
When they realized that we wanted to give them something that, apparently, no one else had - in a sense their ownimage - they warmed up to us immediately. They went from the hardened, suspicious creatures of the street to being truly children again, with all their innocence and wonder exposed. Their faces transformed in front of us. Gone were their scowls and jeering laughs. They began to mug and play in front of the camera. We were welcomed into their tribe. When we returned for subsequent shoots they proudly showed us their pictures which they kept in dirty pockets or tucked into their waistlines. They even traded their pictures amongst themselves. I was struck by the powerful validation one must feel when being able for the first time to own one’s own image. These are just some of their photos.