Francisco Mata Rosas was born in 1958 in Mexico City. His father was an amateur photographer and their home was filled with cameras and photography magazines, thus, he was interested in taking pictures at a young age. He used his father’s camera until he received his own, at the age of 12. He quickly started experimenting with things like putting cellophane in front of the lens to see how it would change the image.
Rosas started college with design in mind, but changed to Communication Sciences. He attended the Autonomous Metropolitan University from 1979 to 1983. He began as a photojournalist and worked for the Mexican newspaper, La Jornada. He became increasingly interested in the topics assigned to him as journalistic assignments, and he wanted to go much deeper than the newspaper allowed him to go. That is the time he decided to start his own personal projects.
His first project, Mexico Tenochtitlan, took 15 years to complete. It is the story, presented through text and photographs, of how Mexico City continues to rebuild itself, while at the same time, continues to destroy itself. The process of photographing the entire city was difficult. It had not been done since Nacho Lopez had completed the process in the 1950s. Much had changed since the 1950s.
A Trip is another project that directly relates to Mexico City. It was a close up view of the Metro Collective Transportation System. This project, as well as Eyes That Do Not See, and Noah’s Ark, have caused Rosas to consider completely excluding text from his books. He once said, “I prefer that people wonder why I put together a couple of photographs and try to understand and discover the relationships the photographer is looking for.”
Rosas has done many other powerful projects, including, Tepito, and the Line, which is about the Mexico-United States border. In addition to his own photography, he spends a substantial amount of time teaching photography. He has been a full-time professor and researcher at the Autonomous Metropolitan University. He enjoys pushing the students to think about photography in a different way.
Rosas believes that photographs are, “a result of work and less as a result of chance.” His training and background in written journalism challenged him to look much deeper than just the image. As a teacher, he feels that “…the greatest harm we can do to a photographer: limit his world to photography.” Photographs shouldn’t just be nice to look at, they should help tell a story.
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