Metinides still has some of the very first images he took with his first box Brownie Junior camera, of street life in the Centro Histórico, near where he grew up in San Cosme, and of the cinema screen. He would go to the matinees with his camera and shoot the action! Straight from the movie. He loved to photograph car accidents, of which there were always plenty. He would photographed them the way other children collect baseball cards: old bangers colliding as if in a slapstick comedy; cars wrapped preposterously around lamp-posts, or flipped over as boxes of fruit cascade down the street. The photographs appear benign; there are no bodies, just the cars with their dents, or with policemen posing next to the witnesses. The focus is on the vehicles veering out of control, in a city where (even then) the traffic had its own anarchic rhythm. By the age of ten, Metinides had become a seasoned street photographer. We can picture him scrambling through the crowds of onlookers—(people he would later introduce into his photographs). He began to work with the support of the police and firefighters, and would often climb onto their shoulders to get closer to the action. He describes his relationship with the emergency workers as special, even paternal. They called him “El Niño” (the boy). The name stuck. Now, at 80 years of age, Metinides is still known as El Niño.
*For a larger compound of images from this period, please visit the Archive page within this website.