After a spiritual journey, this photographer collaborated with an ancient Yucatan community to produce his first book

ByDavid M. Conte

Mar 2, 2022

After having a spiritual awakening, Santiago traveled through Asia, South America and Africa in search of something more elemental, something deeper than what he experienced as a commercial photographer.

His first book, “Nahual”, was born from this spiritual quest.

A publication on the book describes the origin of its title: “In the indigenous Mesoamerican tradition, Nahual refers to human beings who have the power to metamorphose and transform themselves into animals, elements of nature or to perform acts supernatural. It is also a form of introspection that allows those who practice it to have close contact with the natural world and the spiritual world.

Santiago’s work came to fruition after collaborating with a community in Mexico’s Yucatán Peninsula, centered around the Yucatec-Mayan archaeological site of Ekʼ Balam. Her book is an exploration of the practice of Nahual and hopes to raise awareness of the practice and its people.

“Nahual” was made possible not only by this collaboration with this community, but Santiago also called on the skills of costume designer and stylist Chino Castilla to bring his vision to fruition.

Here’s a look at what this whole collaboration ended up producing.

You can see more of Santiago’s work here. And you can buy the book here.

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