Project with a Cause

 Photographing the Natives of Mexico 

Preserving the cultural past of the 68 Mexican native peoples

and their languages to ensure their future through photography.


All 68 native groups of Mexico (their real name and official name).



The trip of 6 weeks will start around end April and finish around beginning June 2020.


Hello everyone, welcome. With this personal project I want to photograph the 68 native peoples of Mexico to make known to the world their great cultural importance, but also to try to improve their difficult situation. With my own means I traveled, photographed 5 groups and published them in my first book "The Natives". I want to continue photographing the remaining 63 through several trips starting with the State of Oaxaca, which counts 15 native groups. Through all those trips and this photographic and video compilations I seek to raise funds and donate scholarships to the photographed children.

Kickstarter Originarios - Oaxaca.00_01_1

All 68 native groups of Mexico (their real name and official name).


Route and places of the 15 natives of Oaxaca to photograph


First book with pictures of 5 natives groups: Purépecha (Michoacan), Rarámuri (Chihuahua), Nahua de Guerrero (Guerrero), Maya Tsotsil (Chiapas) & Maya Yucateca (Yucatan).



They deserve attention and respect. We need to value more their identity and culture and we must realize that they can give us moral contributions to our contemporary society and finally that their greatest wealth is found in their millenary wisdom.

It is a request for your contribution to continue photographing all the native (ethnic) groups in Mexico, to make them more recognized and that there is remaining evidence of all of them in case they disappear. In addition, I want to enrich the public debate by increasing the understanding of the Natives' precarious situation and generate an economic contribution so that they can progress.

It is necessary to let known their marginalized situation, however, I will not give a sad image nor will I confirm the image of poverty, since most people in general is how they identify them. For this reason I believe that professional portraits of them will increase the recognition of their beauty.


Little girl playing in front of her house


Despite their precarious situation, children do not stop playing.



It is something very deep, it is a conviction, a respect that I feel for them and a fascination by their millenary heritage and knowledge. The days I lived with them I experienced and loved their nobility and kindness. But their difficult conditions have also impressed me, not deserved and provoked corruption and the unfortunate racism of some Mexicans have towards them.


Breakfast with my dear Mayan friends in their kitchen.


Showing photos of the session to my Purepecha friends.



I was born in Belgium and I am passionate about photography since I was a child.

25 years ago I undertook a journey of personal fulfillment and independence. My tour began in Europe, through the United States, Mexico, Belize, Guatemala and ended in Honduras. I concluded my symbolic nine-month trip in Mexico which gave me a great source of inspiration and where, as winner of an international photo contest, I built my base as photographer.

In 2017 I published my first book "Los Originarios" (The Natives), which is a compendium of artistic and documentary photography made from 1998 to 2013 results from many trips, where it shows my evolution from amateur photographer to a professional photographer. It portrays five Mexico's native  groups. From the coexistence and talk with them came the title of the book because some call themselves “The Natives”. My fascination with the aesthetics, folklore and customs of the Mexican tradition made me remain in Mexico and now it is the country where I live as a permanent resident.

More information and photographs of the five native groups:

perfil-denis_jockmans-20160321-18 copy.j

Traveling, discovering and photography, always have been my passions. From Kodak, Nikon F4 to Sony Alpha 900 and now Sony A7RII.



This project has been built with a calculated and economic budget without losing its quality and purpose to make my trip through the State of Oaxaca: Travel expenses for me and my assistant like the compact SUV rental, gasoline, tolls, hotels (cheap but comfortable), breakfast, lunch and dinner (in cheap local restaurants), tips, travel and photo material insurances; purchase of an economic but quality drone; logistics, administration, promotion in social networks, printing costs of quality photographs for exhibitions and sales after the trip, commission to Kickstarter and local taxes. And finally the awards and their delivery. (Note: shipments have been averaged based on the costs of the countries considered to make their donation, and such shipments are generally high).

At the end of the trip a detailed report will be displayed.



A photographic/artistic and video documentary compendium for exhibitions, events of social interest, interviews and later with the support of some other institutions, secretaries or state governements I hope to raise funds for the print publication of the second book the Natives of Mexico, specifically those of the State of Oaxaca.

The objective is to print this book in several languages and sell them in prestigious bookstores in Mexico, the US and Europe and online stores, and make digital versions of the book for sale like Amazon or iTunes.

I will donate 15% for each sold signed and limited edition print with certification and 15% for each sold book, to the family members I photographed who go to school. This donation will accumulate until reaching a scholarship that will cover all the expenses of their studies (books, teaching material, transportation, clothing, food, etc.) of a year or more. They will also receive their 17x22” size photographs on a 3mm wooden base and subsequently the book where they will come out. For the moment only the children I have and will photograph will benefit from the scholarships, however the objective of this project is that more children receive support to continue studying.

I hope to exceed my financial goal to be able to deliver an advance of the scholarships for the photographed children and I will documenting the proofs of the deliveries by publishing them.

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My first published book "The Natives".

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Detail of the book: here featured the Yucatecan Maya.

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Detail of the book: explanatory text of the Nahua de Guerrero.

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Detail of the book: pictures of the Nahua de Guerrero (students).


Example of a signed print.



From newsletters, exclusive access to Polarsteps until the trip ends, postcards to limited edition photographs with certificate, signed and printed on long-lasting Hahnemühle quality paper. And many more.

Here the link to the catalogue featuring pictures of the Natives I have taken for now which you can choose to be printed.

HOW TO SUPPORT:  ( If you decided to make a contribution, please go back to Kickstarter. If not, please spread the word! )

ZAPOTEC Package - Approximate delivery: abr 2020 - Contribute with 100 MX$ or more (approx. € 5 - $USD 5.5).
* Newsletter: weekly you will receive updated information with photos during my trip through Oaxaca and after.
* You will receive a video of gratitude and information about the travel preparations.
* Your name (if you wish) as a backer on my website dedicated to the Natives.

CHATINO Package - Approximate delivery: abr 2020 - Contribute with 400 MX$ or more (approx. € 20 - $USD 22).
All of the above +
* Access to Polarsteps where you can follow my trip on a map and where we exchange opinions and ideas.
* Daily a 1 minute video of my coexistence with the Natives and photos and videos behind the camera.
* Digital photos of the trip.
* Your name as a backer in the next book "The Natives of Oaxaca".
* A digital postcard of Sofia (the Purépecha girl) that is the cover of my first book "The Natives".

IXCATEC Package - Approximate delivery: may 2020 - Contribute with 800 MX$ or more (approx. € 40 - $USD 45).
All of the above +
* 10 digital photos of those photographed from the first book "The Natives" as wallpaper.
* 1 digital book The Natives in different languages. Originally in Spanish, then it will be translated in French, English, Dutch and German.
* Video of a poem or a story of their traditions in their original language with subtitles.

CHOCHOLTEC Package - Approximate delivery: jun 2020 - Contribute with 1,500 MX$ or more (approx. € 75 - $USD 85).
All of the above +
* 1 digital book of "La Catrina", a collection of more than 100 photographs of a very Mexican tradition where people or models have been made up and photographed by several photographers.
* 15 selected digital photos (one of each native town of Oaxaca) that will be published in the new book "Los Originarios de Oaxaca" and that can be used as wallpaper.

* Digital postcard of thanks of the cover of the new book "Los Originarios de Oaxaca".

MIXTEC Package - Approximate delivery: jun 2020 - Contribute with 3,000 MX$ or more (approx. € 150 - $USD 165).
All of the above +
* Pack of 8 photographs of the book "The Natives" printed on quality postcards.
* Cover of each book "The Natives" and "The Natives of Oaxaca "printed on durable quality paper Epson Ultra Premium Photo Luster 240GSM RC size 13x19 "/ 33x48cm.

AMUZGO Package - Approximate delivery: jun 2020 - Contribute with 5,000 MX$ or more (approx. € 250 - $USD 270).
All of the above +
* 1 personal letter.
* 1 book "Los Originarios" (in Spanish at the moment) signed and dedicated to the backer.

CHONTAL Package - Approximate delivery: jun 2020 - Contribute with 10,000 MX$ or more (approx. € 500 - $USD 545).
All of the above +
* A 25% discount coupon valid from June 1, 2020 to August 31, 2020 to all the photos and books for sale on my website here.
* 1 photo of your selection of the catalogue "The Natives" printed on durable quality paper Epson Ultra Premium Photo Luster 240GSM RC size 17x22"/ 43x53cm.

ZOQUE Package - Approximate delivery: sep 2020 - Contribute with 15,000 MX$ or more (approx. € 750 - $USD 815).
All of the above +
* 1 photo of your choice of the catalogue "The Natives" printed on durable quality paper Epson Ultra Premium Photo Luster 240GSM RC size 20x30"/ 51x76cm.
* 1 photo of the catalogue "The Natives of Oaxaca" printed on durable quality paper Epson Ultra Premium Photo Luster 240GSM RC size 17x22 "/ 43x53cm.
* 1 digital version of the new book "The Natives of Oaxaca".
* 1 group video conference about my travel experience.

MIXE Package - Approx. delivery: sep 2020 - Contribute with 20,000 MX$ or more (approx. € 1.000 - $USD 1,085.
All of the above +
* 1 ecological t-shirt made of PET material (white or black) with cover photo of the book "The Natives", signed and with production limited to 100 pieces.
* 1 digital postcard of thanks with the cover of the new book "The Natives of Oaxaca".
* Invitation to the presentation of the new book at the Zócalo Book Fair, Mexico City.
* Mention and public thanks of the backers in presentations and interviews.
* Logo or name in my website as an associate producer.

CHINANTEC Package - Appr. delivery: sep 2020 - Contribute with 25,000 MX$ or more (approx. € 1.245 - $USD 1,350).
All of the above +
* 1 signed photo of your selection of both catalogues with certificate printed on durable quality paper Hahnemühle Fine Art Rag Ultrasmooth Matte Paper 305GSM 100% Cotton size 17x22 "/ 43x56cm (limited to 60 prints; initial value $US 215).

MAZATEC Package - Approx. delivery: sep 2020 - Contribute with 30,000 MX$ or more (approx. € 1.495 - $USD 1,625).
All of the above +
* 1 signed photo of your selection of both catalogues with certificate printed on durable quality paper Hahnemühle Fine Art Rag Ultrasmooth Matte Paper 305GSM 100% Cotton size 20x30"/ 51x76cm (limited to 40 prints; initial value $US 320).

CUICATEC Package - Approx. delivery: sep 2020 - Contribute with 35,000 MX$ or more (approx. € 1.745 - $USD 1,900).
All of the above +
* 1 book "La Catrina" signed and dedicated to the sponsor.

* 1 signed photo of your choice of the catalogue with certificate printed on durable quality paper Hahnemühle Fine Art Rag Ultrasmooth Matte Paper 305GSM 100% Cotton size 17x22 "/ 43x56cm (limited to 60 prints; initial value $US 215).

(Go back to Kickstarter)



The project will be built on several dates and new campaings will be done to finance further trips, and I hope to complete it by the end of 2022. During this time photographs will be printed and books in different languages.

After the trip through the State of Oaxaca, I will go very likely to the state of Chiapas and begin 2021 northern Mexico where there are several native peoples whose language are disappearing.

Once I have finished photographing all the native peoples, a limited edition luxury version of the best photographs will be made, and after having completely finished this project I will continue with the same idea of traveling in the US and Guatemala to photograph their Natives.

Risks and challenges

Each project has its risks and challenges, especially when it is about travel. The safety of myself, my assistant and my equipment is the most important. With contacts who know native families and thanks to my multiple trips, I will know that I will be well guided and informed, avoiding conflict zones.

To be well prepared for the trip, I have spoken with tourist guides, drivers, travel agencies, the Government of Oaxaca and other institutions and during my trip the Natives themselves will provide me with local information. I have an extensive personal travel insurance for me and for my equipment, and people in Mexico City are pending with my needs during my travel. It is important for you to know that I have traveled thousands of kilometers through Mexico, Guatemala and Belize. For the rest I am confident that we will do well, being always careful. My assistant will support me in monitoring my equipment while I am focused on photographing people.

Also, despite the many stories, Mexican people are very kind.

All photographic material will be immediately backed up in the cloud, my laptop and on a crash-resistant hard drive.



I dedicate this project to the photographed and non-photographed Natives who won my admiration, respect and heart.

To the backers for all their support to achieve this dream and to those who did not contribute but always wished me the best. To all those who appreciate and support culture. To the President of the United States of Mexico and his wife for their great interest and great respect for the Natives and their traditions.

To my dear mother Monique Gillet who has taught me to love traveling and exploring, my dear family, my dear friends and last but not least my beloved partner Ilaya Duran who has been morally supporting me all this time, believing in my project.

Thank you all for your interest and your contribution.


Travel information of the State of Oaxaca. 

Oaxaca ( ) has approximately 4 million inhabitants (2015), 77% of the population is urban and 23% rural. 1,205,886 are indigenous language speakers spread over an area of 36,275 square miles (three times larger than my home country Belgium with 11,583 square miles or size of the state of Michigan, USA).

The 15 groups are (from many to a few): Zapotecs, Mixtecos, Mazatecos, Mixes, Chinantecos, Chatinos, Triquis, Huaves, Cuicatecos, Zoques, Amuzgos, Chontales de Oaxaca, Chocholtecos, Ixcatecos, Tacuates, and a group that is not mentioned a lot are the Afro-Mexicans from the small coast of Oaxaca.

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Mexico size comparison with Europe.

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Comparison size of Belgium with State of Oaxaca.

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Mexico size comparison with USA and Canada.

Sources and Inspiration


Some Native Celebrities I would like the photograph during my trips.


"What you have to know about the first Native candidate to presidency".


Vogue Mexico honors indigenous women.

Trip preparations


"How to salute in Zapotec"


"Sicarú Cheu"


In my search for places, here an example of the results finding me a town called San Miguel Panixltahuaca where the Chatino live.


A list of towns and villages where the Chatino live. San Miguel Panixltahuaca came to my view and is on my road.


To secure my trip everyday I will moniterize the weather or other natural fenomena for security.