PHOTOS AND ESSAY by JAMIE MALDONALDO
The brightly colored fruit stand stood vividly apart from the pallid, parched grass and overcast sky. The sweet smells of fruit lingered in the steamy air, drawing lusty bees.
Two men sat in the shade of a green and orange canopy, and appeared none too thrilled to see my camera, perhaps afraid the attention might draw the ire of the health department or some other bureaucratic busybodies.
Watermelons, mangos, dried fruit and a variety of soda – all from Mexico – beckoned bee and human alike. Oranges, pineapples, coconuts and more also filled the roadside display hooked to the back of a large, white truck. The rainbow of fruit rivaled the colorful canopy for visual dominance. In life and photography, color screams for attention.
The soda was among the more uniquely Mexican items available. The tall bottles seemed huge even by Texas standards, and the knowledge that they were filled with cane sugar instead of high fructose made them seem even more appealing. Not even their unrefrigerated state could make them seem unappealing.
Now at ease, questions turned to laughter and the vendors’ warm demeanor emerged.
Times are tough for documentary photography. While technology has never been better, magazines hunger for candy-coated illustrations and newspapers are hacking away budgets formerly reserved for in-depth reportage. While the big stories still often find a way through the static, it’s the small slices of life that seem to suffer.
I’ve driven by many roadside vendors and have never taken the time to stop and talk to them, much less buy anything. A plethora of more unique goods awaits outside of the world of Big Box stores. Experiences like this help me appreciate how the camera is a great tool to meet people and learn about the world.
Kilgore native JAMIE MALDONALDO typically turns his lens — and considerable talent — on the remarkable people and places of East Texas. His photographs have been published in Texas Monthly and JPG Magazine. Maldonaldo assembled this collection of a roadside fruit vendor on Redwood Road while visiting San Marcos in March 2013. See more of his work on Facebook and Twitter.