Photo projects that take years to complete are often the most personal, not to mention the most difficult to finish. American photographer Harvey Stein’s new book Mexico Between Life and Death has to be his most visually appealing and masterful, yet. After more than a decade of taking photographs, he’s finally done with a gripping series that is both personal and artistic.
Mexico has always fascinated Stein. It’s far removed from the life he was used to in Pittsburgh in almost all aspects — culture, a way of life, traditions, and beliefs. It’s a colorful place to be in but the photographer managed to repaint it with nothing but light and shadows in black and white; much like the theme in his head that revolved around death and existence. His new book aims to capture all of these nuances that can be subtle, yet glaring at times.
Mexico Between Life and Death was completed after 14 trips to small towns and villages with views that are only revealed to willing witnesses. Stein’s photographs reflect his long-standing fascination with the people there and how they openly embrace death as part of their culture. Most of Stein’s trips were scheduled during festivals like the Day of the Dead to give the images weight and the reader some context as to what the photos are all about. The images are as much about Mexico and its people as it is about the photographer who took them. They are a fragment of Stein’s connection to this world that is thousands of miles away.
Stein’s new book is published by Kehrer Verlag and was released just last September 16, which also marks the celebration of Independence Day in Mexico. The black and white photos in this photo book prove that vibrancy can be achieved even in monochrome. Stein’s use of shadows, texture, and angles gives the viewer a dynamic view of his trip to a land where myth and religion are both highly revered.