Photographing the Daily Truck Bed Commute of Mexican Carpoolers

Photographing the Daily Truck Bed Commute of Mexican Carpoolers

From the perspective of highway overpasses, photographer Alejandro Cartagena has documented the daily commute of Mexican workers in his photo series, "Carpoolers." Setting out during morning rush hour, Cartagena photographs the weary travelers laying in truck beds amongst the tools of their trade. The result of this overhead perspective photo series is a delightfully simple and revealing glimpse into the daily life of these hard-working travelers.

The morning journey begins at the direction of the "maestro," or construction site manager. Piling into the bed of pickup trucks, the commuters take the 60–90 minute journey south from San Pedro. Still early in the morning, many of the carpoolers are tired and nap on piles of newspaper or cardboard to pass the time. The truck bed journey is dangerous and illegal so oftentimes the travelers are just laying down to avoid detection. Whether napping or hiding, laying among the work tools illustrates a brief glimpse into the daily lives of this group on travelers. A vignette into the otherwise mundane morning truck ride, Cartagena's series makes contextual assumptions as to what these highway hitchers do for a living.

"This is how I see the world around me," says Cartagena. "This project was a perfect fit to see how people [are] willing to do whatever it takes to own a house but still go to the city, where there is work." About the photographic process, Cartagena explained, "I would stay around two hours and sometimes get just a couple of images I liked along with many cut, blurred or underexposed images. It was a slow processes. I didn't want to shoot more than two images per truck in order to keep myself very attentive and not just rely on my camera to get the frame." When asked to describe his inspiration for this project, Cartagena responded he "was especially interested in continuing an exploration of issues stemming out of the overdevelopment of the Mexican suburbs. The images came about while producing a commission for a research institute on how people use the street in Monterrey."

The series light-heartedly began in 2011 and has been hosted by many studios in Mexico and the U.S. "Carpoolers" has grown into a full book complete with a counter-perspective from the eyes of the travelers looking up at the overpasses as they whiz by, or views of the cloud-filled sky. Cartegena's book offers a unique artistic perspective of these lives.

Photos used with permission courtesy of Alejandro Cartagena.

[via NPR]

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Jason Hudson is a writer and photographer living in Central Coast California. Jason is currently a full time photographer and designer at a reputable branding firm and has freelance clients ranging from GoPro, Phillips, Outdoor Magazine and more. For inquiries about Jason's work, The Keller Whale, visit

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Very nice idea for a fine art book. Maybe you should have corrected the perspective in post but then it would not have been 100% journalistic work.. Well done!

Great idea and great results!

Amazing. The every day from a different perspective. Inspiring.