Walter Reuter was a Mexican photojournalist of German origin. Reuter arrived to Mexico in 1942, after fleeing the rise of the Nazis in Germany. Having started his career in Europe, he introduced modern photojournalism techniques into Mexico and is best known for his work documenting twenty ethnicities of Mexico’s indigenous people. Working with state agencies, he first created “The timeless world of the Indians”, traveling through Veracruz and in 1946 in Oaxaca with Juan Rulfo and the Papaloapan project in 1950. Reuter produced a number of full-length films. The first was Historia de un río, which led to opportunities to make documentaries for Musée de l’Homme, the BBC and Westdeutscher Rundfunk. Tierra de chicle (1953) won the Espiga de Plata in Rome. He also created a number of dramatic films such as Raíces (1955), El brazo fuerte (1958) and Los pequeños gigantes (1958).
His photos brought public attention to the primitive living conditions in Mexico’s indigenous villages. He captured the strength, beauty and dignity of these people. Reuter was also known for his intimate, joyous relationship with his subjects.
“One time I went to a village in Oaxaca to take pictures of dances, but
it was so cold there the people didn’t dance,” he once told an
“So I taught them a few steps and they liked it so much that they
adopted it as their official dance. If you go to those villages today
in the mountains of Oaxaca and you ask them to dance, they’ll still
show you what I taught them.”