Best of Week Day of the Dead Photographs: Deby Thompson

“I signed up for the adventure and to learn, says Deby Thompson, “and I got both.”  Deby is a legal videographer from the historic restored mill town of Glencoe, NC. Her clients are attorneys who engage her to interview children whose health has been severely comprised by accidents or other mishaps.  In this respect, Deby is a seasoned documentarian.  She came to our Day of the Dead Photography Expedition wanting to use her DSLR camera to tell a story much in the same way she uses video.

Photo 1:  Deby calls this photo Family Market Time. She shot it in one of the jam-packed narrow walkways of Benito Juarez Market in Oaxaca city.  It captures the hubbub of shopping for tortillas, underwear, Day of the Dead altar accoutrements, t-shirts, duffle bags and lots more.


Photo 2 (Left), A Time for Prayer, and Photo 3 (Right), Early Evening, give us a glimpse into the solemnity of the Xoxocotlan cemetery on October 31 as well as the simple beauty of wildflowers growing in front of an iron-framed window.

“I had a wonderful week with my camera and new friends,” Deby says. “The night in the Xoxocotlan cemetery was amazing.  As an instructor, Bill Bamberger was very easy to work with, and I felt completely safe wherever I went.”

Photo 4: October 31 Preparations features the gathering of fruits from the corner market stall.  Family members will use these to adorn Xoxocotlan grave sites.  Last minutes preparations were necessary that night because the torrential rains prevented people from getting to the cemetery early enough to clean and decorate.

Photo 5:  Deby calls this shot Whipping that reflects the character in yellow on the right of the photo just about ready to crack the whip.  This group from San Augustin Etla gives us a preview of what their La Muerteada will look like when they carouse in their village on November 1.


Photos 6 and 7:  Deby along with Liz Thomas were guests in the home of weaver Pedro Mendoza in Teotitlan del Valle on November 2.  This connection with Pedro’s family was one of the most memorable experiences during Deby’s time in Oaxaca.

Photo 8:  At the Mendoza family altar the copal incense guides their ancestors to return to their graves at 3:00 p.m. in the afternoon.  In the distance, we have heard the church bells ring for the past 24 hours, signifying that the spirits have been here on earth.

Photo 9:  Candles sit at the foot of the Mendoza family altar, with a winter squash added for decoration, perhaps a favorite food of one of the deceased.

Photo 10:  A 24-hour votive candle or veladora provides a constant light.  Many faith traditions use the 24-hour candle to evoke the memory and/or spirit of the dead loved one.

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