I went to the agave fields to shoot the jimadores on their schedule and under their terms. Every situation was different but everyone was kind and respectful, though doubtful at times.
There was one occasion I ended up meeting some illegitimate jimadores and they took me to an illegal distillery. I spent four days trying to shoot at the distillery (which the person in charge said I could do) but every time we were invited to come, somehow the place was deserted and on lockdown. It was a bit frustrating but it was obvious to us why they wouldn’t want to be photographed. The curious part of it all was that we were never told not to come back.
My homebase for the trip was Guadalajara which is only a 45 minute drive from the agave fields. Before going there I had no contacts at all. I speak the language and took a big gamble on doing it this way. I didn’t want to be shown what every tourist is shown. Any time you do something like this it is easy to find local people to help you and make your work easier, but most likely they will point you to what they think you should be looking at (or what every tourist wants to see) and not to what you are searching for.—Rene Cervantes
Photographer Rene Cervantes explores Mexico’s agave harvesting fields in his recent project, Jimadores. He grew up on the Texas/Mexico border in El Paso and Ciudad Juarez and spent his teenage years and early 20’s playing in bands before leaving to California to study photography at the Brooks Institute. He is now based in New York.
This post was contributed by photographer Matt Rainwaters.