El Dia de los Muertos #1 San Luis Rey

Richard Crowe

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I plan on photographing four Dia de los Muertos (Day of the Dead) Celebrations this year. Day of the Dead is a Hispanic Celebration in memory of loved ones who have departed the earth. The first I visited took place at the Mission San Louis Rey de Francia (Mission of Saint Louis, King of France) in Oceanside, California. This celebration occurs a week earlier than most others and gives me a jump start in the photo coverage.

Traditionally, families gather at the grave sites of their departed loved ones, decorate the graves with flowers (most often yellow marigolds) and with pictures of the departed as well as things that the loved one liked when living. This could be food, tequila, musical instruments and a wide variety of other offerings.
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Marigolds are traditionally used as grave decorations because these flowers attract the monarch butterflies that arrive in Mexico in the fall, during their migrations from colder climates. Aztec traditions which are carried on by the Hispanic culture, equates the beautiful butterflies with the return of the loved ones souls.

The skull or skeleton is another tradition. Which is pretty well self explanatory in a celebration of the dead...

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The celebration at Mission San Luis Rey in Oceanside, California, includes an Hispanic car club whose members decorate the trunks of their cars in lieu of decorating their loved one's graves.
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Face painting is traditional for this celebration
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and painting ones face half as a skull indicates the proximity between life and death.
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This holiday is a celebration of the loved ones who have passed away, it is not mourning for them...

Sidewalk painting is also practiced at many celebrations...
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I used the Sony 50mm f/1.8 OSS and the Sony 85mm f/1.8 lenses in tandem on a pair of APSC cameras to cover the event. Since it was overcast when I shot this celebration, I did not need to use fill flash...
 
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