Dec 26, 2013

Street Photos in Ecuador (November 2013)

The first few months of this trip I traveled without a camera. I figured the perceived danger in South America would make me hesitant to take street photos. Not having one at all allowed me to live in the moment better and not get preoccupied with missed photo opportunities.

During my 2011 EuroTrip I had a camera for 2 of the 13 months, it stemmed from misfortune but was later self-imposed. I wasn't so fussed as I figured I'd find other creative avenues to document my experience. I began collecting quotes from conversations, did a few doodles and collected mementos which I was fortunate to showcase in an Exhibition. For this trip I hoped to add podcasting as a memory trigger.

I was inspired to get my camera after meeting an Argentinian in Caracas, Venezuela who was brandising his camera with careless abandon. He took great street photos and was not shy about getting good position. I bought a camera soon after. I'm less worried about the danger but remain a little self-conscious about the candidness of the street life being captured..

I've enjoyed going out each day trying to capture the absurdity of street life. Below are a selection of
Street Photos from Ecuador (Cuenca, Vilcabamba, Guayaquil, Montañita, Baños, Quito):

Kids
Q: Who kneels while taking photos?
A: This guy does
Witness the Fitness
Football crowds
Coexistence
Sacred Sueños: Being truly free?
The Warriors
H-O-R-S-E
Ain't Nuthin But A Gangsta Party
Cake. Boss!
Mystical
Throwback
¿Qué pasa?
More Photo related posts:
- Full Ecuador album (November 2013) via Facebook
 - Jacques Henri Lartigue: Why I'm getting a camera
- Street life photos in Buenos Aries and Porto Alegre
- Spotted: Photos from Buenos Aries - The first 48.
- Find all posts featuring photos here

Dec 20, 2013

A question answered with a quote: Colombia edition

My time in South America is coming to a close, in Colombia now and am glad I chose it as my final stop. My improved Spanish has allowed me to capitalise on the famed openness of the Colombian people. I had considered Ecuador my favorite Country and thought it a hard act to follow. Colombia has lived up to its considerable hype.

That said, my blog updates have waned which is troubling. This is the first time I've featured consecutive AQWaQ with no content in between. My motivation to collect quotes from conversation has seemingly evaporated. I've continued finding Basketball experiences and found content for my Podcast blog so I haven't entriely stopped being creative. I've also been taking plenty of street photos which has been fun.

With that I present to you the Colombia edition of 'A question answered with a quote'

If you're afraid you have to learn to love the fear
When you keep running into the same people but you don't know them. I hate them
The problem is it knocks out happiness. Its a scary thought
Nos entendemos a nosotros mismos
(Espanol: We understand ourselves)
With culture, sometimes the difference is in the limits
You have to go elsewhere to test your Market Value
I don't know how to describe shit
I have a theory, the Superman theory.
When Superman is in his own planet he's normal. It's only when he's on earth that he's special
You Europeans have watches. We have time.
Mi Todo (My all, My everything)
Mi Amor (My love)
Mi Cielo (My sky, My heaven)
Mi Reina (My Queen)
Mariposa (Butterfly)
Mi Princesa (My Princess)
Mi Sandía (My watermelon)
Mi Agua de Coco (My coconut water)
Mi terroncito de Azucar  (My little bubbles of sugar)
Tetas Dulce (Sugar Tits)
- A question answered with a quote: Chile edition
- A question answered with a quote: Argentina edition
- A question answered with a quote: Caracas (Venezuela) edition
- A question answered with a quote: Brazil edition
- A question answered with a quote: Ecuador edition
- A question answered with a quote: Colombia edition
- Find my original 'A question answered with a quotes' from Europe

Nov 9, 2013

A question answered with a quote: Ecuador edition

Have you ever wanted to escape from reality, to retire from the daily grind of life?
Where would you go, what would that place look like?
What languages would they speak, who would be living there?
You'd expect the place to be welcoming, ideally have a low cost of living with high quality of life.
Since you're relocating permanently, you'd want somewhere fertile for harvesting dreams. A farm for pet projects, to be able to build upon your paradise. One would have to consider the sustainability of a place built on unfettered dreams.

If this place existed surely there would be an influx of likeminded people - travellers, other idealists, escapists and refugees. What community would arise from that? Although seemingly intentional the unusual concentration might create an absurd cocktail.

This has been my Ecuador so far. A place recommended to me at the start of my journey but I still severely underestimated. Easily the most striking and livable Country I've ever visited, I've been swept up like countless before me. I'm curious to see what my impression of the place will be after a month spent here.

With that I present to you the Ecuador edition of 'A question answered with a quote'

What's your dream job... just to enjoy life?
"I wonder what it's like to be a dolphin in the middle of the ocean at midnight"
I was spiritually hijacked
I'll survive. I'll be alive next year whether I spend $5 or $50 today
Knowledge is knowing tomato is a fruit, wisdom is not putting it in a fruit salad
Well you just sit there and keep thinking like that...
Acting on your thoughts is half the battle
We're all here because we're not all there
Sí convertirse, no divertirse
(Espanol: When you convert [money] you don't have fun)
I'm affiliated to things that get done
"I want to see you but I just watched 'Waking Life'
and I'm having a really hard time with my consciousness right now
I don't want to disturb you and your "you-ness"
- A question answered with a quote: Chile edition
- A question answered with a quote: Argentina edition
- A question answered with a quote: Caracas (Venezuela) edition
- A question answered with a quote: Brazil edition
- A question answered with a quote: Ecuador edition
- A question answered with a quote: Colombia edition
- Find my original 'A question answered with a quotes' from Europe

Oct 29, 2013

Breathtaking panorama of Rio de Janeiro, hike to top of Morro da Babilônia (Leme Beach)

'Morro da Babilônia' lookout. Map drawn from memory.
There's something fun about walking around and stumbling onto amazing sights. It gives me the feeling of being an explorer. Even when the paths are paved once you get to a lookout with  no one in sight you feel like a pioneer.

I found this lookout on top of Morro da Babilônia by Leme Beach which had breathtaking panoramic views of the city - Cristo Redentor, Botafogo Beach and Sugarloaf. The view of Copacabana from behind was partially obscured by trees however. You'll share the view with a gallery of Black Vultures, frankly I'm surprised the base wasn't littered with condoms and homeless/camping paraphernalia. You have to navigate through a Favela and negotiate around some barking dogs (bring a stick) but I felt safe walking alone. On the way back you can treat yourself to refreshing Açaí at the Chapeu Mangueira Favela, the cheapest I've come across.

I decided to google the name of the mountain and see how exotic the hike was. Its not as obvious as the time I "discovered" the 'City of Arts and Sciences' in Valencia but not exactly trailblazing either :)

Update: I returned the following day and was solo again save for the flock of Black Vultures. Here is the vista which I assure you does it little justice.
From L to R: Christ the Redeemer, Botafogo Beach, Sugarloaf Mountain

Oct 9, 2013

Hells Angels Motorcycle Club Open House, Porto Alegre

Rocked out at the Hells Angels Open House in Porto Alegre. 
HAMC Open House, Porto Alegre
Hells Angels' Open House Invitation
Guess which of these audience members is the post-hipster NY Times critic?
a) Pau Gasol fan
b) Brother Will
c) Biker #1
d) Biker #2 
e) Dog walkers
f) Ma and Pa
g) OG Iron Maiden groupies
Rock and Roll never dies

Oct 3, 2013

Street life photos in Buenos Aries and Porto Alegre

Ever since getting my camera It's been interesting to note what my eye gets drawn to. I've always been interested in street and people shots, what a French running mate defined as 'Humanist Photography'. Street life is ever present in South America, from makeshift markets and food vendors, to street art and poverty. Its an iconic and integral part of society here.

At first I felt unsure about documenting the poverty and hard living, a Brasilian running mate questioned why I was capturing "negative" things. We had just departed from Fundação Iberê Camargo where a charming Art mediator shared a perspective that helped illuminate some of those concerns. The opening exhibition piece 'No Vento e na Terra' (In the wind and the land) struck me immediately. It was a heavy picture that reflected the artists' mood at the time, he was dying of cancer. I remarked that the image spoke to some of my own reflections, "Whatever you see will always be viewed from your perspective" she offered.

No Vento e na Terra (1991) Iberê Camargo
Schoolkids in the past interpreted it as a boy listening intently to the ground, she explained "Once you let the art go, its no longer yours". Being an Art mediator I knew she spoke from experience, understanding the value of bias in interpretation.

It is with this in mind I present some stills of life captured in the streets of South America. They represent themes I enjoy exploring - human spirit, the cosmic joke and the pursuit of happiness.
The photos below are tagged by their location and presented without comment.

Centro, Porto Alegre
Palermo, Buenos Aries
Farroupilha, Porto Alegre
Palermo, Buenos Aries
Retiro, Buenos Aries
Centro, Buenos Aries
Palermo, Buenos Aries
Cidade Baixa, Porto Alegre
Update: São Paulo insights
The sensitivity of this photo collection is something I still dwell on but more time in South America, particularly my tenure in São Paulo adds further perspective.

The III Latin American Photography Forum at the Itaú Cultural gallery was illuminating and allowed me to experience the creative energy São Paulo is famous for. The event "proposes a different perspective from the traditional portrayal of Latin America, that pictured the continent through an exotic or wildlife bias or as a delation of poverty of violence".

São Paulo de Todas as Sombras 
by Lucia Guanaes, Marc Dumas, Diógenes Moura
One of the many books I found in the open store was 'São Paulo de Todas as Sombras', a photobook that came about after three friends had a discussion about the hidden everyday nuances, the passing of anonymous lives that make a city. Its a collection of street photos capturing the human traffic and stark street life of São Paulo, including unflinching portraits of the homeless.

The Waiting Game
by Txema Salvans
I was witness to a compelling Q&A for Txema Salvans' book capturing highway prostitution in Spain. The photographer used a clever ploy pretending to be a Topographer to surreptitiously document the subject as naturally as possible. Interestingly it sparked a debate about honesty, sensitivity and morality as the photographer took a neutral stance on the issue and did not ask the ladies for permission, much to the chagrin of many in the crowd.

Punk rock exhibition via the 'selva SP' Facebook page
Across from Itaú Cultural, the boarded up building under construction hosted a wheatpaste exhibition courtesy of 'selvaSP' and 'Lima Foto Libre'.

I began to realise my reservations about Street photos might not have been related to any issue but my distance to it all. I was taking photos in secret, never interacting or engaging with the subject to better understand the context of their situation. I was distant in every way possible.

The most striking thing about the city of São Paulo is its enormity, its the 6th largest city in the world and contains about a third of the state's population. The poverty is ever present but has a darker, more unstable dimension as it's home to an ever-growing Crack epidemic - Cracolândia: the crack capital of Brazil where addicts are forced to seek help (The Guardian). I myself have not taken my camera out in São Paulo, frankly the city has me overwhelmed and initimidated.