I recently came across the new site of the Asociación de Loncheros, the new site of the organization of taco truck owners in Los Angeles. Their meetings and corresponding trucks have begun to be photographed by Juan Posada, a Colombian wedding photographer who has lived in Los Angeles for a long time. I shot him my standard quintet of questions to see what he was about:
1) Your day job is as a wedding photographer. How did you first become interested in photographing taco trucks? What are your favorite ones to shoot? What’s different in how you shoot weddings versus taco trucks?
I became interested in photographing taco trucks after attending one of the “Asociacion de Loncheros” community meetings. I was searching for a photographic project and after meeting the taco truck owners and getting to hear about their struggles I immediately got interested. My approach to photographing a wedding is not very different to the way I take pictures of the taco trucks. In both circumstances I am documenting people’s lives and telling their stories through pictures.
2) What is unique about Los Angeles taco trucks? Have patrons/taco truck owners ever been wary about you taking pictures of their craft?
What makes taco trucks unique is the people; the people that work in them and the patrons that visit them. They bring life to streets that otherwise might be dead. The flicker of the grill, the fluorescent lights, the smell of carne asada and people gathered around food enriches the urban experience of many people in Los Angeles. I always establish contact with the taco truck owners before taking photos at their truck. So far patrons haven’t been wary of me photographing them. I always make it obvious that I am taking photos and sometimes tell them what I’m doing, if I feel it’s necessary.
3) I see that you’re from Colombia. Does Colombia have taco trucks or other similar types of street food? How does your background influence your interest in taco trucks?
Colombia doesn’t have taco trucks as we don’t have tacos, but we do have a lot of food on the street. Hot dogs, skewered meat, empanadas, arepas, etc. are ubiquitous. You can always find good, cheap food on the street. Being far away from my country, makes me long for the warmth of the Latino culture and I have found that in my encounters photographing the taco trucks.
4) Have you seen any trends/unique aspects of trucks from behind a lens that the untrained eye might miss about these trucks?
What catches my attention about the taco trucks is that they are restaurants on wheels. They have running water, hot and cold, sinks, freezers, grills, etc. What people probably don’t realize is the amount of work involved to put one of these trucks on the street. There is extensive work before and after. The normal work shift is 12 hours.
5) Any advice for the amateur photographer who wants to shoot at or around their local truck?
Just introduce yourself before you shoot and explain why you’re interested in taking pictures.