In 1947, at the age of 13, Metinides began a more formal career, working as apprentice to the photographer “El Indio,” Antonio Velázquez. “He was the best,” Metinides says of his teacher. “He saw me taking photographs, and invited me to come and learn from him. He lived for his journalism and would interview people as well as take their photographs. I followed him to the newspaper La Prensa.He left in 1950 to open a new magazine, Alarma, where I also worked from time to time. After my apprenticeship with El Indio, La Prensa started to pay me for my photographs. I covered the downtown area of the city. In those days, I photographed everything: the cabarets, movie studios, and theaters as well as the accidents–a classic newspaper photographer! The paper respected my crime photography, because it was very different from the police photographs. They liked my style, and I kept on working. I stayed doing the same thing for fifty years.”
Metinides’ photographs would often appear on both the front and the back of the paper on a daily basis (occasionally with a double-page spread in the center, too), playing a key role in attracting readers to buy the latest paper. From the 1960s through the mid-1990s, headlines from world events–a new phase in the Vietnam War, the coronation of a European monarch, the launch of a spacecraft–would appear alongside Metinides’ photograph of the latest suicide, fire, or other incident in Mexico City. These tear-sheets give us a perspective the photograph alone cannot: they place us in a time frame, a moment of shared histories; they take us back to the source. Seeing the photographs in the newspapers also expands our horizons, from the parochial to the global picture, enabling us to locate and connect, in the context of our own memories or narratives.
*For a larger compound of images from this period, please visit the Archive page within this website.