The shoeshine man (rarely a woman, although it is not unknown), known as a "bolero", is a common sight in Mexico City and one of the most sought-after jobs in the informal economy. Chairs are rented by the municipality and the boleras must pay taxes on them, with most having started learning their skills as a child on the street.
Mexico City – Photo Tip

Talk to people to get better photos of them

Photo by Lucas Vallecillos

Mexico City – Photo Tip Talk to people to get better photos of them

Mexico City has a reputation for being dangerous but security has improved a lot in recent years, especially in the historic center where the police presence is constant during the day.

Lucas Vallecillos
Lucas Vallecillos Travel Photographer

At night, like any city, things are a bit more edgy. This reputation can make a photographer worry about being out on the street with valuable equipment. In my experience, the city is fine and the people are really wonderful. However, as a precautionary measure, outside the tourist areas anywhere, it pays to be sensible about displaying your expensive camera gear.

To do street photography in such situations, I dress very discreetly and just pack a camera with a fixed lens, such as a 28mm or 35 mm. All the rest of my gear and any second camera body stay locked away in my hotel. The key to capturing images where those being photographed are aware of you is to engage them in conversation.

After a while, people will forget you are there, like the shoeshine guy and his client (above). Spending some time also allows them to lose their initial stiffness and become more natural in front of the camera, like these two taxi drivers waiting for customers (below).

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Mexico City has replaced its once-iconic green VW Beetle taxis with a modern fleet that can be called by radio or found in stands on many streets, a safer option that hailing one at random. There is even a small fleet of electric cabs, subsidized by the government to help cut the city's notorious pollution. Photo by Lucas Vallecillos

Lucas Vallecillos

Lucas Vallecillos

Canon EOS 5D Mark II

Aperture
ƒ/5
Exposure
1/80
ISO
400
Focal
35 mm

Mexico City has replaced its once-iconic green VW Beetle taxis with a modern fleet that can be called by radio or found in stands on many streets, a safer option that hailing one at random. There is even a small fleet of electric cabs, subsidized by the government to help cut the city's notorious pollution.

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