Friday, October 30, 2020
Sometime in the late 50 as I was walking in downtown Mexico City I passed bywhat looked like a photo studio. On the street behind a little window were sepia postcards of Mexican volcanoes. I stopped. The name of the photographer was Hugo Brehme. I subsequently found out he had arrived in Mexico in 1912.
In 1969, while I was teaching English at an ad agency in Mexico City, one of the executives gave me his card and told me to go to an address (it was on Avenida Constituyentes) and to tell the man there that he had sent me.
I arrived at what looked like a huge airplane hangar. Inside there were multiple photo sessions, a bathroom, an ideal kitchen and a Plymouth Barracuda with a beautiful English model called Felicity. The man I showed the executive’s card was Arno Brehme. He must have liked him as he told me that I could assist him for a couple of months even though he had a most capable one he called Seco who was prematurely bald.
I learned a lot from this man. He showed me an ad agency sketch of a car in a garage being illuminated by a full moon. “ Look,” he said, “The shadows are all in the wrong place. They are idiots but I will give them what they want.”
This was the busiest studio in Mexico City as he was the exclusive photographer for all ads in Life en Español which was distributed all over Latin America. One day he positioned three objects one in front and one in back. He asked me where to focus my camera. I gave the idiot’s answer which was halfway. The real answer would have been in a spot one third in front of the middle one.
I was not to know until recently that Hugo
Brehme taught Manuel Álvarez Bravo photography. I am a tad proud that his son taught me.
Many years later, my memory is faulty, I did see Brehme, perhaps in the 80s. I have no idea how I located him. He was in bed convalescing and I told him how he had been a great influence in my life. He told me that he had gotten rid of all his large format equipment and had kept a Hasselblad.
He said he now was an environmental photographer. No matter how I search in Google it is almost as he had never existed and I have not found an obituary