Time Takes a Look at the Life of Enrique Metinides, Mexico’s Premiere Crime Photographer

Time took a look at the work of Mexican photographer, Enrique Metinides, who has recently been featured in an upcoming documentary that goes in-depth into both his life as well as the iconic work he’s created as a crime photographer covering the beat in Mexico. Produced by 212 Berlin, the film, The Man Who Saw Too Much, allows Metinides to express himself verbally in regards to his work, adding a narrative and insight to images that are often violent and tragic yet awe-inspiring. Influenced by cinema, namely film noir, Metinides has dedicated his career to trying to convey tragedy in a single frame.

Completely self-taught, Metinides published his first photograph when he was just 11 years old. At the time he was the newspaper’s youngest photographer. Always drawn to drama stemming from his passion for early gangster films, he has covered everything from bus crashes, plane crashes, crime scenes of murders, assissinations, hangings, and countless other, perhaps, morbid events. In addition, the scenes he would cover often gave him a glimpse into the lives of those effected by the tragedy. He mentions how sometimes a person would die and he would witness the outcome, such as the entire family ending up with little to no income.

According to the film’s producer and Metinides’ long-time collaborator, Trisha Ziff, his work essentially turns all of us into rubberneckers. At one of his exhibitions, she installed a GoPro to get people’s reactions to the images, both those only viewing the work and those affected by the actual incident. Doing this, she was able to capture the initial repulsion, followed by curiosity and fascination in response to his work. Metinides remarks that often both the onlookers in the photos and those viewing them in, say, an exhibition, are “thanking god they are not the victim”.

One of the films that inspired me to become a photographer many years ago was War Photographer, a documentary following the career of photographer James Nachtwey. I found myself fascinated by not only his images, but his ability to detach himself emotionally from the events unfolding in front of him and capture these often horrific moments. Metinides’ work is similar in this regard, but probably hits closer to home as he covers the “everyday tragedy” that people are familiar with such as car accidents, crimes of passion, etc.

Although I’ve yet to watch the documentary, I’m curious to see if covering years and years of tragedy has had any adverse effect on Metinides’ psyche. In the Nachtwey film, one of his colleagues remarks how after a time, he became much more emotionally detached and found it hard to adjust to life outside of war zones. However, from the trailer, Metinides seems quite passionate and proud of the work he’s done. I personally can’t wait to check it out.

To see more of Metinides’ work and to check out the film visit his website here.