Texas Monthly, the National Magazine of Texas, had plans for an editorial piece in its January 2023 issue on how not to see Mexico City. The article argued how a tourist’s approach to CDMX can be favorable over the now-popularized, “local,” citing the city’s wealth of art and architecture as too important to be dismissed as “too touristy.” The magazine reached out to Mexico City-based travel photographer Andrew Reiner to help make the editorial’s case.
This was my first time working with Texas Monthly. I lived in Austin for about five years before moving to Mexico City. The magazine’s photo editor, Claire Hogan, had heard of me and follows my work on Instagram.
Texas Monthly is a monthly print and digital magazine publication based in Downtown Austin, covering Texas news, politics, food, history, travel, crime, music, and more.
The travel story was built around Mexico City’s architecture and food. Andrew’s specialties as both a travel and food/drink photographer made him a strong candidate for the project.
The fact that I live in Mexico City and speak Spanish was also a big factor. I think this project fits great in my portfolio and my style. I have photographed other destination articles for magazines like Hemispheres, The Economist 1843, and Qantas Magazine, which gave them confidence that I was an excellent fit for the project.
The preplanning for the project was conducted remotely via two Zoom calls with the client to discuss locations, and the goal of the shoot — to capture the vitality of Mexico City.
We wanted to include a lot of people and liveliness in the photos. We also really wanted to show off some of the beautiful architecture that Mexico City has to offer. The writer originally studied architecture, so it was a big theme throughout the article.
The photoshoot took place in multiple locations throughout CDMX, with seven and a half days of shooting in total.
Most days, I was shooting on my own. I brought an assistant along a few times to place them in the photos or help with lighting. We also shot two days with the art director and creative director of the magazine for the opening image of the issue.
The open set of the lively city afforded the energy and authenticity Andrew and his team were hoping to capture.
The city is bustling and full of people, which can sometimes be challenging. Most of the subjects in this project were people on the street/markets. I often notice someone or something interesting and ask if I could take a quick portrait. In those situations, I usually just ask kindly, with a smile on my face.
For Andrew, the most difficult challenge was gaining access to shoot in certain locations with a professional camera.
We had to go through a lot of paperwork and phone calls with some of the museums to be able to bring a professional camera inside. There is a small chapel in the south of the city designed by famous architect Luis Barragan, that we really wanted to photograph but weren’t allowed access to.
In closing, Andrew leaves us with a helpful takeaway from the project.
I think the main learning experience of this shoot was to expand my stock library for the city I live in. The photo editor really wanted to use images from the large cathedral in the center of Mexico City, but during the time of shooting, it was under construction and covered with scaffolding. If I had more stock images in my library from before, it could have been helpful.
See more on Andrew’s work on his website.
Read about more travel shoots on our blog.