I know it’s been forever since I’ve posted something up here… the HDR blog has been my main priority and only now am I finding the time to dig back and touch up the images that I have been meaning to post on this section. I want this to be mainly a place for me to upload photos that I’ve taken in the past, although occasionally I’ll put more current stuff up. For now, let’s go to a bit south…
Back in the summer of 2008, I took a trip to Lima, Peru, to do some volunteer work at a school there. The school itself was located 30 minutes outside the city, in a district called Villa el Salvador. ‘Villa’ (as we called it) had started as a shantytown in the 1970′s, when immigrant people from the countryside of Peru settled and needed a place to live. They created a mostly self-sustaining environment, growing their own food, creating their own form of government, etc. For this reason, unlike many other areas of extreme poverty, the residents of Villa have a very distinct pride in where they live and what they have, despite living in conditions that were frankly alien to a Westerner like myself and those who were working with me. I was asked to assist at a school, to help a teacher in a classroom with 17 3 year old kids. The school was set up for children from around Villa who came from families of four or more earning less than one american dollar a day. The school, Deporte y Vida (Sport and Life, I think, it translates to?) became my second home during that month, and I got to know the teachers, and especially the kids. My lack of spanish put a severe damper on my ability to connect with the teachers and adults, but I was able to communicate basically with the kids because, well, I guess I know about as much spanish as a 3 year old Peruvian. I spent my time making copies (manually, with ink and tracing paper) and entertaining the kids in any way possible, which I soon found out usually meant throwing them up in the air, spinning them around, generally doing all the things their teachers wouldn’t do for them!
I was advised by the staff at the volunteer headquarters in Lima not to even bring a camera outside of the city, but after spending a single day in Villa I knew I couldn’t leave without pictures. Most of the people there had never even seen a camera before, and did not even have running water or electricity. I tried my best to communicate my desire to bring a camera to the school, and when the teachers finally realized what I was saying their faces lit up and they began chattering amongst themselves with huge smiles on their faces. That was enough for me. The next day, I came with my 40D and 10-22mm, with no battery grip or lens hood to try and make the thing as unassuming as possible. The initial reaction was of puzzlement, but when I took a picture of one of the children and then turned the camera around to show him, the room completely erupted and I could quickly see all hopes of getting any learning done that day being tossed out the window. I started to apologize to the teachers but they were just as enthralled as the kids! They just couldn’t get enough of it, and constantly looked up at me smiling, waiting for me to raise the camera and make it click so they could see their faces. It was truly unlike anything I’ve ever experienced before, and doubt I’ll ever experience again. I’ll post a few of the kids, the school, and Villa el Salvador itself here. Most of the ones I’d taken of the kids were done without being able to look through the viewfinder, due to the fact that there was almost always a kid on my back, and in my other arm… luckily the 10mm is vastly wide, so if you aim it in the general direction of what you hope to capture, it will probably end up somewhere in the frame!
We had our weekends free to travel, and I took two trips into the Andes. The first was to Machu Picchu, but for various reason I won’t post any shots from there… mainly because, no matter what kind of camera you have, what cool angle you think you found, or how great the weather is that day, your shots look EXACTLY like those of the millions of other people who have been there and found the exact same cool angles as you… it honestly is a place you just have to visit. Photographs do not do it near justice. The second trip I took, however, was to the town of Huaraz, which is over 10,000 feet above sea level in the Andes. The town is famous for the glaciers that surround it, and me and a few others from my group were lucky enough to be able to take a hike up into these glaciers… it may have been one of the hardest things I’ve ever done, hiking 5000 meters up a steep glacier when you are ALREADY oxygen deprived at 10,000 feet, but, as the pictures show, it was worth it and then some.