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Documentary photographer captures Mexican workers on daily commute

Mexican workers commute
Carpoolers (Image credit: Alejandro Cartagena)

Whether you're a documentary photographer or a landscape photographer, we can all find the trajectory of our careers a little confusing. 

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You never really know what job leads to another, or how you finally nailed that dream gig photographing celebrities or top fashion brands. However, one thing's for sure - we all need projects of passion to keep us engaged, motivated and sometimes reinvigorated. Personal projects often lead to competition images or panels for assessment and personal development. Documentary photographer Alejandro Cartagena first picked up a camera in 2004 and has been involved in a plethora of personal, commercial and creative projects every since.

Mexican workers commute

(Image credit: Alejandro Cartagena)

For this project Cartagena used the Canon 5D MKII, the preferred camera of choice of many at the time. It's still in use for many video (opens in new tab) and photography projects to date but is now superseded by the Mark IV (opens in new tab). Coupled with the Canon 24-105 f/4 which still remains the go-to workhorse lens for many canon shooters. 

Cartagena says, "I started this series of images after 4 years of documenting the housing developments where many of these workers live. I wanted to continue the project and these images felt. Like a perfect connection to tell the story of the unintended consequences of the rapid urban growth in Mexican cities. 

"I found a highway that connects the northern suburbs to the southern wealth suburbs where there is a lot of construction work. I would show up at 7 am and for 2 hours I would take pictures of the incoming traffic. I usually got 2 or 3 great shots per day, but took a year to finally feel I had the series finished."

Mexican workers commute

(Image credit: Alejandro Cartagena)

You can see all of Alejandro's projects via his website (opens in new tab) and still pick up many of his books (opens in new tab) covering diverse and inspiring projects for aspiring documentary photographers.

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Alistair Campbell
Alistair Campbell

Alistair is the Features Editor of Digital Camera magazine, and has worked as a professional photographer and video producer.