John Frost (no longer with us) was an impressively talented – and hard working – photographer of all things Mexican. He also had a keen eye for things distinctively rural.
He lived and worked in his Jocotepec studio when that territory was considered déclassé. A careless judgement that made John’s close friends and admirers grin.
His “subjects” were to be found in what often were considered backwater Lake Chapala pueblos. Small places that were firmly considered belonging in poverty-line categories throughout the 1960s and ’70s. Which of course pleased him greatly. He didn’t step daily into the world determined to photograph gringo tourists and upper-class Mexicans shunning their former pasts.
A well-read, slyly quiet photographer, displaying subdued spurts of intellectual probing, he was in some people’s minds more of a Nelson Algren than anywhere near anyone else. But the side of Algren that enticed readers with “The Man with Golden Arm” and “A Walk on the Wild Side,” rather than “The Neon Wilderness.”
That meant that when I began buying rough horses, he applauded, for in his judgement that bit of slyness put me in the company of tough cattlemen with little – if any – education, but a lot of mountain-side savvy regarding mean-cattle and crazy-horses. Roughly-inclined cattle were more likely to get cross and slam into good mounts, and to hook into a horseless rider. Cattle had sizable horns in those days, which helped to keep wolves and rustlers at a distance.