Trick or treat by Susan De Witt


October is a supernatural month of the year here in the Pacific Northwest. The cooler weather brings with it a season of change and renewal. 

The trees display their gorgeous fall colors and it’s a magical thing to witness, as they shed those colors in time for the advent of winter.

The last day of October is also traditionally the time for Halloween costumes and trick-or-treaters running from door to door in search of candy.  For many years I have traveled to Mexico in late October/early November to witness that country’s celebration of their dear departed friends and relatives, which is called Dia de los Muertos.   For a week or so prior to ‘Day of the Dead’, you can find an endless supply of special candies and gifts made specifically for this time of year.  Common candy shapes are skulls made from sugar, and Catrina figures.   My love for Mexico and the people there is only heightened by the extravagant distance they go to in their celebratory style.  There are festivals and parades, and, at the end of the day, people gather at cemeteries and pray for their dead loved ones.

One particular year of photographing this event in central Mexico was fraught with technical problems.  I planned to shoot film only, with no flash, no tripod, using 1600 film, but even then I found the available light was minimal and I would subsequently have to push the film when I returned home.  Most all of these images were shot after dark…  As I ran around trying to isolate each child or group, I had no time to set anything up – it was pretty chaotic and fun.  My friend would pass out candy to those that I photographed, and they went away happy, as did I.

Once I returned home to my darkroom, I decided to print using lith materials.  Lith prints often show a lot of grain, and the fact that I was using fast film, and pushing it, made things even grainier.  But, to me, it gives off an ‘other worldliness’ quality that enhances the effect I was looking for.  Here are a few of the images taken that year. [Official Website]





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