Joaquín Floriano, the salesman of smooth photos at Factory2U. Photo by Andrea Valencia

It’s after noon, which means it’s time for… The Afternoon Report. Here’s what we’ve got:

Good looking fantasy

On Mission Street and 22nd, I stopped in my tracks when I spotted two photos framed and leaning against the wall of Factory2U, the discount store. I had seen these a few days before and thought someone had discarded them. But in fact, the pictures are not been discarded they were there to attract people into the store for a special service.

Once a year, the Los Angeles company Promotional Photographers sets up a stand for a week inside the bargain clothing store to offer patrons discounted studio photos to customers. Joaquín Floriano is one of the two photo salesmen that travels from Los Angeles to spend a week in the Mission to sell studio photos.

The main selling point here, as I soon learned from Floriano, is that the photos are expertly Photoshopped.

“The customer is never disappointed because they know what we are offering,” said Floriano as he showed me a binder with the words “marketing campaign” printed across it. The binder had before and after photos of various clients. Teenagers with pimples, women with blemishes, men with wrinkles all became very smooth-faced and perfectly situated on a shiny black background. Floriano explained he also sets up shop in Walmarts, where he gets a lot of clients.

Roberto Lezama, a Factory2U employee who works at the front of the store in loss prevention, said that the company takes professional pictures and described the method as “pretty much things people can do for magazines.”

Once a customer decides to get their picture taken at the discounted price of $15 instead of the usual $48, according to Floriano, they sign them up and send them across the street to Promotional Photographers temporary studio where they can get their picture taken.

When I asked Lezama what he thought of the touched-up photos, he mentioned with a smile that “they are selling a fantasy.” But, Floriano quickly disagreed and produced his own studio photo. He let me take a picture of himself holding his photo.

“I’d rather live a fantasy than reality,” he said.

Sweet stuff

Michele Simons doing prep work for her next workshop on Friday. She will be teaching 25 students from Cesar Chavez Elementary how to decorate sugar skulls. Photo by Andrea Valencia

This is the fifth year that Galería de la Raza is hosting a sugar skull decoration workshop. Wednesday afternoon, Michele Simons had her hands covered in sugar as she prepared for the upcoming workshops. Simons was mixing sugar, dried egg whites and water to create the sand-like material that will go into skull molds. She had about 800 pieces that will need to dry out before they’ll be ready to decorate.

Simons got into the skull decoration craft when her mom passed away 15 years ago, and she headed down to Mexico to spend Dia de los Muertos there. Now, she has helped craft over 15,000 sugar skulls and is preparing to teach this tradition to the class of Cesar Chavez Elementary students that will be coming to take her workshop this Friday.

“Kids are great, they live in the neighborhood and they already have this down, knowing how to do it, so they help teach adults,” she said with a smile.

The workshop costs $10 and includes all materials. Simons teaches anyone interested Fridays from 4-9p.m. and Saturdays and Sundays from 12-5p.m.. Her workshop will continue throughout the month of October and potentially into the first week of November, based on demand.

Simons is also offering a discount for educators who want to bring in large groups, so make sure you ask about discounts.

Sugar skulls decorated. Photo by Andrea Valencia

Altar for Reese

Not all Dia de los Muertos traditions are as light-hearted as decorating sugar skulls.

On Bartlett and 21st Street, I spotted a carefully prepared altar made of purple cloth and decorated with flowers, candles and pumpkins. Several small candles spelled out the words “RIP REESE” on the sidewalk. The altar commemorates Maurice White, who died on the alley October 14th, 2013. White played football and baseball at the Galileo Academy of Science and technology.

White was 28-years-old when he was killed. His roommate is the suspected perpetrator. Read more about him here.

The altar set up on Bartlett and 21st to remember Maurice White. Photo by Andrea Valencia

This has been your Afternoon Report—a new series we’re trying out in which we offer a quickie post-meridian rundown of some minor developments in the always-happening streets of the Mission District. Got ideas or suggestions? Let us know what you think by sending an email to

Andrea Valencia

Andrea was born and raised in Mexico City, where she graduated as a translator/interpreter. She has been working with Mission Local since 2009 translating content for the Spanish page. Also lives in the...

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1 Comment

  1. Love the sugar skull workshops Michele Simons offers. It’s a toss-up – who likes the workshops more, adults or kids. When you sit down and start decorating, all that matters is your skull will be fun and colorful. A great way to celebrate Dia de los Muertos!

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