There is something about the photography of Enrique Metinides that captivated me the instant I became aware of his work. My curiosity about the man and his images eventually led me to his home in Mexico City to hear his story.
I guess part of me naturally felt that I should be shocked or horrified by the subject matter that Metinides photographed—for almost fifty years during his career as a tabloid journalist he captured murders and car crashes, criminals and catastrophes. However, when I first saw his images, around the time of his New York exhibition in 2006, I felt neither of these things.
For me, there is something in Enrique’s photography that manages to romance the viewer rather than repulse. Instead of looking away from his images, we are somehow drawn in by their cinematic flair and the stories they hint at—stories that we are left to make up the beginnings and endings to ourselves.
It should come as no surprise that it was the young Metinides’ obsession with gangster movies of the 1930’s and 40’s that led him, at the age of ten, to pick up a camera, for his eye is that of the astute film director. He always knows where to place his camera to maximize the drama and impact of his work, using the backdrop of his native Mexico City as a great sound stage upon which he cast his heroes and villains, his life effectively one unbroken tracking shot through a movie that was never made.
It is these things that make his work special to me, the fact that the life he chose to lead was one sparked by his imagination, but lived out in the real world.
Ross McDonnell is a photographer and filmmaker from Dublin, Ireland.
His most recent film, Colony, has just been released on DVD.