Blog about living in Mexico by Photographer Erin Parker

Ever dream of selling everything & moving to Mexico? I did it and these are the stories.

Biographical Bullshit

I've been trying to write a little bio blurb for This Is Reportage, a new (and wonderful) wedding photographer collective I joined, and it's not going well. 

I don't know what to say and I say too much. It's endearing, isn't it? 

So I put off writing it and look at my work. Then I look at Instagram and spiral down into photographers' feeds and lose my breath. There is such incredible work out there. And so much of it. Self doubt creeps in. Of course it does, isn't that the problem with social media? 

I see these pictures of mountaintops and castles and think I'll never shoot in a place like them but I'd love to. There are moments and faces and light that make me think I could never shoot it better but I'll try to. There are scowls and moodiness and trends that make me wince and wonder what the hell happened to romance but I know tastes vary and I will not appeal to everyone and that's okay. I reach a point where I'll drift back into my own work and I like what I see. 

I see happiness. 

Maybe that's all my biography needs to be. 

Lauren + Luke

Lauren + Luke

Clare + Chris

Clare + Chris

Jamie + Danny

Jamie + Danny

 

 

Melissa + Ryan | Sayulita, Mexico

My last wedding of the 2016-17 season was meticulously planned by the bride. She didn't hire a planner and researched all her vendors, locations and details with astonishing perseverance and clarity.  Melissa was incredible about communicating the moments and details that mattered most to her. Everything she'd hoped and planned for came to fruition without a hitch and I was along for the smooth ride. These are a few of my favorite photos from the day and the stories behind them. 

This picture feels like a painting. I took it early in the reception, when everyone still had their clothes on and tequila had yet to cross their eyes.  

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I’ll stop the world and melt with you
— Modern English

I've always liked the song and wanted to recreate it as a photo. It was a bit tricky. I needed to use a slow shutter speed, but I didn't have a tripod so I had to handhold the camera. The sunlight was filtering through tall palms swaying in the sea breeze - so the sun on their faces was compromised with every strong gust. We were also blocking one of the main beach access points in Sayulita, so we had to be fast. It worked. 

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I think creating an unusual bridal party portrait that shows the personality of the people and the uniqueness of the place without any gimmicks is a lot more satisfying than lining them all up and asking for a happy face. Melissa & Ryan's wedding was at Brisa Mar Palapa - a Sayulita wedding venue just above a cemetery. They'd asked for bridal party portraits on the beach and I knew we'd pass through this spot on our way there, so I asked if they wouldn't mind just trying to make a picture here. Everyone was into it. I didn't want anyone looking somber or sexy. In Catholic culture, the dead are celebrated (think Dia de los Muertos) and in our culture - what is a wedding but a celebration of life? It seemed fitting and it worked. 

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I'm feeling a little guilty because Melissa is not the drinker these pictures make her out to be. I just happened to catch her drinking the best two drinks of the night. This last picture is of the bride sipping a beer just after her ceremony on a sultry hot afternoon - moments before she and her brand new husband signed their marriage certificate. After all the planning and the beautiful ceremony... you can almost taste that beer. It had to be great. And the layering: on the left, you see the officiant holding the envelope with the wedding certificate; her sister is sweeping past to make the table for the signing look nice; a groomsman is passing beers to someone else on the right; and the groom is holding his margarita. I like seeing the variety of drinks, and the view from the venue. There's a lot going on, but there is stillness in her sip.

MelissaRyan_173.jpg

Wedding Planning - The bride | Venue - Brisa Mar Palapa | Catering - Don Pedro's Restaurant | Dress - hand-sewn by the bride's mother 

Giving Thanks

I am thankful for the brides that let me be the photographer I want to be ... a story teller. Yes, with every wedding I shoot, I tell the wedding story - this is where it was, what it looked like, who was there, what they did. I don't always get to see the essence of a couple, but I try. I want to get pictures of what they look like when they think no one is looking. Oh man, do I try to get to know those things about every couple that invite me to be a part of their wedding. It's a level of intimacy that's difficult to tap into. Not every couple wants to reveal it. Sometimes, the circumstance of the wedding - the guests and the travel and the stress and relief and expectations and having someone not too far removed from a total stranger pointing a camera at them, make it pretty fucking hard to be photographed ... so I try not to push it. 

Sometimes it happens. When it does, it affirms me and all the choices that make this Mexican life work. So thanks to those couples who show me their intimacy.  

Shame and Bless

Syd started school yesterday. I've been with her solid for more than two months. I was ready. She wasn't. 

Traveling and interruptions in routine have her off. That, and I didn't do enough preparing for the newness. She did fine in day care, I know she'll do fine in Montessori. It's freaking Montessori. She's bigger than she was on that rough first day of day care. We talk about being bigger all the time. Her birthday was coming for weeks. It was always soon. She tells me she's a big girl. 

School scared the shit out of her. I was too excited for it starting to even consider what was happening to her. She adjusted well to living in the Airstream, she was darling at her grandparents house, she was even a shining example of toddler-hood to her cousin. (She taught her to count toes! They jumped on the bed! Watching her be the big kid was so cool!)

en route

en route

She did not make a positive first impression. That made me immediately fearful of being labeled as a - fill in the blank with your preferred negative adjective - mom. I picked her up less than an hour after we dropped her off. Her teacher explained the hour and I knew it hadn't gone well and she was speaking in Spanish and I could kind of follow but got frustrated by my inability to understand ... had to admit I couldn't. Shamed. By myself, really, but am convinced the teacher is adding another negative association to my face.

It was only a fucking hour. 

The days are still hot and drag and I have work to do. Hustle, hustle, hustle. I talked to Syd about school being exciting and fun. Her teacher likes her! There are fun boys and girls in the class! There is "no lloras" at school. No crying. I had a hiccup as a parent and felt crappy about it. 

She was perfectly pleasant all evening. There was no fussing or fighting. She ate. She played independently. She seemed cautiously optimistic about going to school again. She was being a big girl. 

I was staring at the computer trying to fit in some of the things on the never ending to-do list when she called to me from her bedroom. She still goes down in her pack'n'play. Her touches touch the edge and she's just about too big. Figuring out a bedrail system for the twin bed is somewhere in the middle of that to-do list. I went into her room and leaned into her bed. She reached up and started rubbing my eyebrows. She asked me to sing a song so I sang the one I made up about Daddy. 

"Will you pick me up and hold me and sing sunshine?" she asked. 

I picked up my three-year-old and held her and softly sang you are my sunshine. She melted me. My big girl isn't so little any more and bless her heart, my little girl is getting so big.