Tales from the border: Day 15

For two weeks we’ve been hauling around a massive black plastic case that fills nearly the entire trunk of our Jeep. It’s a huge space-suck and has also caught the suspicious eyes of customs officials on both sides of the U.S.-Mexico border _ at least until we open it.

Rodrigo’s wooden camera is a primitive device modeled on ones he saw local photographers using to take portraits in Kabul, Afghanistan. A box with a lens and space for a developing lab inside, it was a forerunner to the Polaroid instant camera.

AP photographer Rodrigo Abd uses a wooden box camera to make a portrait of Mexican retiree Miguel Trejo, in Tijuana, Mexico, Wednesday, April 5, 2017. (AP Photo/Jordi Lebrija)

This whole trip we’ve been waiting for the right place for Rodrigo to spend a day using it to make striking black-and-white portraits of the people who inhabit the frontier lands. We’ve been looking for a place that offers a diversity of faces and stories, and also enough foot traffic to provide a steady supply of subjects.


                                                                  Map of Tijuana, Mexico. 


Video: Faces of Tijuana - Finding the right place for a box camera

Text by Christopher Sherman & photos by Rodrigo Abd

Sherman and Abd will update their travelogue with regular text entries, photographs and videos. 

Nat Castañeda is an interdisciplinary visual artist based in Brooklyn, New York. A California native, Castañeda works primarily in video and collage, with an emphasis on tactile intimacy with her materials remaining an important aspect of all her projects. Common issues in Castañeda’s work are the conflating of iconography and pornography, the questioning of traditional gender binaries, and the role of technology within personal narratives. She received her MFA from the School of Visual Arts and has shown at venues such as El Museo del Barrio and Electronic Arts Intermix. In addition to her art practice, Castañeda currently works at The Associated Press where she leads a team that curates AP's online archive of historic and contemporary photojournalism. Castañeda’s photography has appeared in the New York Times,U.S. News & World Report and USA Today.