My name is Fermín Ximeno Benjamín and I’m a cockfight photographer. I was born in July 25th, 1975, but, who cares about that? I don’t even care about it, I just live for my camera and my cocks.
That crimson one that just got killed was called “The Black one”, a beautiful animal with chroma and gamma conflicts, immortalised in my sepia colour photographs. I arrived to Aguascalientes on a rainy afternoon, when I was five years old. I don’t remember exactly where I was born, I only know that one day my mother told me “ Fermín Ximeno Benjamín, you’d better behave and get a job, I bore no slackers!”
I didn’t find a job, but I found a camera, which eventually turn into a job. That’s the way things go in life, you find them when you don’t want to and when you want them to find you, they don’t. My first photo was a shot without film, which was embedded in my mind and reveals everyday that I remember that dandy who told me: “dumb kid, don’t you know that for pictures you need to have film on the camera?”
Of course I didn’t know, I was just a dumb kid. The same dandy bought me my first film roll and my second photograph was that of a dead rooster in the palenque. Its torn head with the beak on the soil, like it should look in a dead fighting cock.
One of the ringleaders came near me and told me in a serious voice: “kid, I want that picture when you have it developed, I will pay you a princely sum, as it represents the cost of my failures”. I told him: “I still have 23 photos until the roll is finished”. He replied: “Use them on him”. I told him: “As you like”. He kept his word, then hung himself in the nearest hill.
Rumours flew that he was married to that rooster, wed in a forbidden place where everything was allowed. In another time, the president came and he betted millions in a cock from the Robledo family, he lost everything, but kept a stiff upper lip, that style that can only be forged through years of red tape. One of his bodyguards told me: “Mister president wants you to take a picture of him with the cocks that are still fighting, then one with the prize rooster, then one of you with him”.
So I did, I took the picture that until today is remembered as the most dynamic, most war-like, most daring of two cocks fighting, then I took one with the president and the winning rooster and then I took mine with him… with the rooster. I haven’t had any memorable relationships, barring that time when a famous singer arrived to the palenque and saw me leaning on a wall, waiting for the cockfighters to come out.
She asked me: “Do you know who I am?”. I said yes, you’re the one who sings in the capital with five dress changes and a voice like a caramel lightning. “Yes, that’s me” she answered. “I want you to take pictures this night”. I only take pictures of my roosters, I answered. My name is Fermín Ximeno Benjamín and I’m a cockfight photographer.
Words: HOMO RODANS