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Metinides, Enrique

Jaralambos Enrique Metinides Tsironides (born 1934) is a Mexican photographer. He began working with photography as a child when his father gave him a camera. Soon he began taking photos imitating popular action movies and car crashes near his father’s restaurant. He expanded this to opportunities found hanging around the police station, going to the morgue and becoming a Red Cross volunteer to ride with ambulances. He published his first photo in a newspaper when he was twelve and at age thirteen, became an unpaid assistant at La Prensa.

Metinides worked as a crime photographer from 1948 to his forced retirement in 1997, taking thousands of images and following hundreds of stories in and around Mexico City such as crime scenes, car crashes and natural catastrophes. His work was principally published in the “nota roja” (literally “red news” because of bloody images), sections and event whole journals characterized by crude text and sensationalist photography dealing with violence and death. Sometime after his retirement, his work began to be appreciated on their own merit and artistic value, being exhibited in Mexico, the United States and Europe.

From 2011 to 2013, a collection of 101 photographs selected by the photographer toured Europe and the Americas under the name of the “101 Tragedies of Enrique Metinides.” The photos have also been published as a book with the same title, with extended captions and a biography of Metinides. His style began as basic tabloid, at first focusing on damaged cars but soon after began to focus on the victims and emergency workers. Most photos are in black and white but some are in color.
While the genre focuses on the grisly and visceral, and his aggressive style makes his work comparable to that of New York crime photographer Weegee. Once, when recalling his arrival to the scene of an airplane crash he stated that only after he shot his three rolls of film did he go to help with the rescue. However, the two’s contents, styles and contexts are different. What made Metinides’ work distinct and popular was not so much the themes but rather the inclusion of the faces of aggressors, corpses, other victims, emergency workers and onlookers for emotional impact. One of Metinides most notable images is from 1979, depicting journalist Adela Legarreta Rivas (MS 825), who had just been hit and killed by a car. She is seen with her eyes still open and wedges between two telephone poles. She is freshly made up and her hair styled, on her way to a press conference on her latest book. To the right, there is an emergency worker just before he places a cloth to cover the body.

Metinides’ aesthetics are derived from popular film of his era, especially black-and-white actions movies related to police and gangsters. Even his use of wide-angle lenses and daylight flash is from seeing images of news photographers he saw in the movies.

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