Paolo Zerbini photographs Mexico City quite unlike you’ve ever seen it before
When the London-based photographer got stuck in Mexican City back in March, he took the opportunity to capture its charm and energy as best he could.
- Jyni Ong
- 7 September 2020
- Reading Time
- 3 minute read
Mexico City is one of those places in the world that photographers can’t seem to get enough of. For those of us who haven’t been blessed with experiencing the capital city yet, there are documentations galore of the magnificent place which photographer Paolo Zerbini describes as a city with “breathtaking energy” where the people are “extremely approachable.” The London-based photographer ventured across the Atlantic Ocean from the UK back in March and “kind of got stuck there,” for obvious reasons.
He took the opportunity to shoot as much as he could, capturing Mexico City’s natural golden light and the personalities of many of its inhabitants. In a series quite unlike we’ve ever seen before, Paolo’s series titled CDMX, takes us on a characterful tour of the city, stopping by local kids, suit-clad office workers, thirsty park-goers and an assortment of vendors on the way.
Previously, Paolo has turned his lens to fashion editorials, magazine campaigns and a number of personal projects. Last year we covered his alternative publication made in collaboration with Ivan Ruberto, Bellissimo, a tourist user guide aimed at glorifying the understated. And the year before, we were introduced to an Italian ploughing competition and its farming fanatics. Now, the photographer talks us through this latest endeavour which took him further afield than the aforementioned documentations. And as he walked through the streets of Mexico City for the first time, he recalls to us, “I felt as if I wasn’t really anywhere I could put a stamp on, although clearly in one of the biggest capital cities in the world.” Ciudad de México has the ability to “disguise itself as anywhere else just by turning a corner.”
Struck immediately, not only by the beauty of the place but also its people, in time, Paolo found his favourite spots for snapping his shutter. Away from the main tourist areas, away from anywhere remotely recognisable, Paolo comfortably found himself in a setting where the light, architecture and subjects could work their magic all on their own. He met a young bullfighter practising in the park, remembering, “I had to let go of judgement for such a tradition. It’s never easy to leave out your take on a certain thing when feeling so strongly about it. His young passion and old way of staring at the camera were really enchanting, regardless of what they might carry.”
Throughout his time in the city, Paolo couldn’t help but be endlessly allured by his surroundings. The series shows a snapshot of his interactions and observations. In an image titled Elegant Musician, for example, Paolo spotted the man from a while away and was “incredibly charmed by his elegance and the way he was just looking at me.” He didn’t say a word while Paolo took a few photographs, nearly getting run over by a cyclist in the process. This was when the musician spoke to Paolo, warning him of the dangers before going their separate ways.
On his meanderings, different people reacted in different ways to Paolo and his camera. Walking past a group having a picnic, they waved as he composed his shot and Paolo tried to encourage them to act naturally once more. “The outcome is a shot containing so many different interactions, I am never tired of looking at it,” he says of one of his favourite images from the series.
CDMX could be just another photography series of Mexico, but it’s one with a touch of the personal, framed by Paolo’s positioning of the camera. He hopes to journey back to explore this incredible place evidenced in the series. Other than that, “I am finishing my third book which I hope to present at the beginning of the new year,” he finally goes on to say. “Then more Mexico, why not?”
GalleryPaolo Zerbini: CDMX (Copyright © Paolo Zerbini, 2020)
About the Author
Jyni became a staff writer in March 2019 having previously joined the team as an editorial assistant in August 2018. She graduated from The Glasgow School of Art with a degree in Communication Design in 2017 and her previous roles include Glasgow Women’s Library designer in residence and The Glasgow School of Art’s Graduate Illustrator.