The Feast of Saint Jude Thaddeus

MEXICO CITY, MEXICO

Offered by: Keith Dannemiller (Widely published photojournalist and resident authority on Mexico)

$275 per person

up to 3 people

approx.7 hours

Street Photography

Saint Jude in Mexico is the only Catholic saint in the world to have a monthly veneration on the 28th of every month. Things particularly catapult to a cult-like status on October 28th, the Saint’s feast day and this experience is all about witnessing and capturing the action in and around San Hipolito, as thousands of true believers arrive on foot from the surrounding barrios in outlying districts of the city.

Just before midnight on the 27th of October, the bells in the two towers of San Hipolito church begin to ring furiously, signaling the start of the Feast of San Judas, the patron of lost causes. Pilgrims walk through the night on foot carrying statues and scapulars in order to blessed at the end of one of many masses. Pick-up trucks serve as ad hoc floats, their beds bearing life-size statues of the saint festooned with yellow and green balloons of wreaths and flowers.

The faithful largely come for a spiritual rave but also ask for Saint Jude for help with life problems — money, jobs, relationships, and health issues. The Feast of Saint Jude is a wildly colorful affair for devotees, especially for the working class and marginalized Millennials who feel they’ve been a dealt a bad hand in life and believe the Feast of Saint Judas is the way when all hope is lost.

Over the recent few years, this fiesta has become one of epic proportions, rivaling Day of the Dead with jostling crowds, spiritual raves, street food, decorated motifs, and intense emotions — a one of a kind experience for street, documentary, and travel photographers in Mexico City.

Making good street photographs anywhere in the world is not an easy task, let alone in an unfamiliar urban jungle like Mexico City on Feast Day of Saint Jude can be downright daunting and unnerving. October 28th is a day with cult-like status in Mexico City when many thousands gather to be blessed by Saint Jude, the saint of lost causes. Shooting with Keith, a veteran photojournalist with 30+ years experience in Mexico assures you of that balance between safety and your need to challenge yourself with unique visual opportunities that hone your street photography skills. Whether it’s knowing the lay of the town, translation barriers, interactions with locals and getting informal portraits of them, or moving freely in a way that does not restrict your visual response to things around you, you are in excellent company with Keith.

Anybody interested in or visiting Mexico City who wants to experience a cult-like festival with a local authority and widely regarded photojournalist while looking to hone their street photography skills.

  • Early morning meetup (5:30am) to walk some distance with the pilgrims and shoot photos as they arrive having walked all night carrying statues, rosaries, scapulars and mementos of the Saint
  • Arrive at the church just around sunrise for the perfect light to capture the crowds in the streets and capture the spiritual rave for a couple of hours in nearby streets
  • Break for coffee and have a quick review of your photos from early morning with Keith over a light breakfast
  • Back shooting, this time inside the church to photograph the syncretic rituals of Saint Jude Thaddeus
  • Out on the streets surrounding the church again for more street shots

Additional information

Meeting point
A convenient location in downtown, TBD upon booking confirmation. Meeting time is 5:30 am

Recommended equipment
Any film or digital camera that you are familiar with, iPhones also welcome

Activity level
High – we will be on foot and amidst crowds for much of this experience

Important Notes
Breakfast cost not included in the experience fee. Please exercise common caution with your belongings like you would in any big city or crowded gathering

Recommended Reading

Of Lost Causes: Keith Dannemiller


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