BEHIND THE LENS
WINTER IN MEXICO CITY BY GERARDO SANDOVAL
Born in 1996 in Guadalajara, Mexico, Gerardo Sandoval, known as Gess, studied Visual arts and Art Direction at the Nuova Accademia di Belle Arti in Mexico City. For the past 10 years, Gess has been working as a photographer. His unique perspective and vision have garnered many publications in Latin American media and beyond, and have given him the opportunity to travel and work on international campaigns establishing him as a global presence and the face of a new generation of photographers.
His approach explores themes such as poetic dialogue and allegorical storytelling. With an acute eye for light, detail and movement, he creates captivating imagery across the genres of lifestyle, landscape, documentary and architectural photography.
Gess is currently based in Mexico City where he works as Creative Director for Anfora, as well as collaborates frequently with Apple.
Tell us about your relationship with Mexico City (CDMX).
I dreamt of living in CDMX from a very young age. I grew up in constant change and chaos, moving from town to town around the country, but I always felt identified with Mexico City. The immensity of this city has given me the opportunity to experience many realities and create a home where I’ve had the freedom to discover my own language through which I can communicate with the world.
Tell us about this series: Why winter? How is winter in Mexico different from others you’ve experienced?
I’m a person who lives in constant awareness of nature and its movement. Despite the fact that the city is full of buildings and concrete, the climate, the warmth, and the lighting of the season makes you aware of the details that make this concrete jungle move. It gives everything a more romantic and nostalgic feel.
What does CDMX smell like in the winter?
Winter in the city is very cool, so the smells vary a lot depending on the time or the location, from delicious and warm food right down to the dirty, stinking smoke from the cars and traffic.
What does it taste like?
It tastes like days of home office with churros and hot chocolate or coffee.
If you had to choose your favorite thing about CDMX, what would it be?
The jungle in the city. I love that the streets are full of plants, trees and outdoor restaurants and businesses, as well as the many parks and green areas everywhere that allow you to explore the city by foot.
What might surprise a foreigner about winter in Mexico?
Probably the rhythm and the immensity, because personally it’s my favorite season of activities and things to do; there are many holidays, fairs, festivals and new beginnings. The climate feels very temperate compared to other countries and the atmosphere is much more relaxed than the rest of the year, although full of life to visit museums, galleries and restaurants. In my experience, most people express some idea or desire to live in this city for a while after they’ve experienced it.
What does a perfect day in CDMX look like for you?
A day full of food. Honestly, since I’ve lived here, I’ve tried the best dishes, which have filled me with memories and experiences that I didn’t know could be lived through my palate. So a perfect day would be to walk around my favorite cafes and restaurants in the city while taking photos of the discoveries along the way.
Can you share a local secret?
The tianguis, the markets and the street food are the best way to get to know the city and the people who make it.
They say you never stop discovering new things in CDMX. Have you found anything interesting recently?
That’s exactly what I enjoy so much about this city… things are happening all the time that lead you to discover new experiences. Recently, I found the soda fountain in the Chapultepec forest, in front of one of its lakes and next to a bookstore. A perfect place to spend a morning with coffee and a good read.
What’s something everyone should know before traveling there?
What’s the most special thing about the city?
The atmosphere, the vibe, the empathy and the communication, because despite the fact that it’s such an immense city with an accelerated pace, the connections and community you meet or create every day are much greater than the city itself.
Any local words or slang?
I think “aguas” or “me late” are the ones I say the most.
In search of local culture, where do you go?
To the historic center. Visiting this part of CDMX is like traveling to a surreal past where the history and culture of the city reveal themselves through the streets.
You have only 48 hours in the city, what can’t you miss?
The first thing that comes to mind is the historic center. See Bellas Artes, the Zócalo, the museums and shops around it. Go through the Chapultepec forest and the Tamayo museum or the Anthropology museum. If there’s time, go by the Chapultepec castle to observe the view from its balconies. End your day in the south of the city, in Coyoacán where you can go to the UNAM or even take a tour in a trajinera in Xochimilco.
A dish that everyone should try?
Chilaquiles or quesadillas with cheese and rich chocolate.
What’s the best dish you’ve eaten in the city?
I think the list of delicious food in this city is too long to think of something specific, but a plate of tacos campechanos from Los Cocuyos in the historic center fills me with happiness.
A restaurant that never fails?
Hugo wine bar or Galanga Thai house.
A place that always inspires you?
Paseo de la Reforma.
La Juárez– it’s the heart of the city.
Best locals only drinks?
The carajillo with mezcal from Café de Nadie. It’s perfect.
What is beauty to you?
Anything that can show and conserve its authenticity.
Anything else you’d like to add?
This city is a surreal experience, and in order to enjoy it, one must be open to change and the constant irony of CDMX.