Mexico City, Mexico

By Edgard Garrido

The truth is that there are lots of viewpoints, myths, interests, ignorance and bigotry when it comes to bullfighting. It’s undeniable – beyond being against or for it – that bullfights are a historical and cultural event, and a reality that I couldn’t ignore as a photographer in Mexico.  During a month this past Mexican summer I photographed bullfights, ones that in the end were not particularly bloody for the toreros but certainly were for the bulls and, I have to admit, for my emotions as well.

Stepping into the world of toreros was easy and difficult at the same time. Easy because the people are friendly, and difficult because it was, and still is, an unfamiliar world to me.

I went to the Plaza Mexico, the largest bull ring in the world, to get permission to photograph a bullfight. Indoors there were photographs, sculptures, capes, muletas, and swords, and outside there was the arena. Everywhere was the smell of animals. On the day of my first bullfight I found myself standing in a hallway in front of a horse dressed in yellow padding, banderilleros, matadors and monosabios (workers who pick up the dead bulls).

I was instructed, “You have to stand in the back and you have the right to photograph two bulls, later you must go to the gallery.”

I could feel the fervor, including from the other photographers. It was certainly not my place. I knew I didn’t belong there, and I sensed that others were uncomfortable with my presence as well.