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Matinee: Graeme Purdy Goes to Mexico Share This on LinkedIn   Tweet This   Forward This

15 August 2020

Saturday matinees long ago let us escape from the ordinary world to the island of the Swiss Family Robinson or the mutinous decks of the Bounty. Why not, we thought, escape the usual fare here with Saturday matinees of our favorite photography films?

So we're pleased to present the 266th in our series of Saturday matinees today: A Man and a Film Camera Go to Mexico.

London-based Graeme Purdy got Covid-19 in March and suffered through a case that "was never severe" for six weeks before he made a full recovery. He spent the next five months in his own neighborhood not even taking a bus or the Tube.

Which was not business as usual for Purdy, who travels the globe to photograph wildlife.

After five months, the quarantine was getting to him. He felt the need "to find a happy medium where I can work while not putting myself or others at risk."

'Once you strip out color, there is an immediate degree of abstraction revealing a different view to how we see the world.'

England was permitting departures and Mexico was permitting arrivals, so he booked a flight to Mexico to shoot American crocodiles in the wild. This 5:20 video shows what happened.

We follow Purdy as he packs his bag (there's three dSLRs in there with the film camera), goes to the airport, arrives in Mexico at 3 a.m., makes it to the island and learns what to do when a crocodile bites. He doesn't say and we didn't ask.

He shows off "the best accommodations in the area" that don't have any doors. And the "rustic charm" of the building extended even to the toilet.

The footage mixes video with both color snapshots of the adventure and black-and-white stills of the crocodiles (at the end).

Why monochrome?

"Once you strip out color, there is an immediate degree of abstraction revealing a different view to how we see the world," he explains. "I believe this leads to classic and timeless images in keeping with the majesty and integrity of my subjects."

There's a big black hump in the bottom of the video frame which we take to be the still camera's wide angle lens. You can see the rig in action at 2:55.

"These opportunities will be more difficult to make happen and may happen less frequently," he writes. "This thought does not escape me for a single moment."

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