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Wednesday, 13 April 2016

Bolivian Odyssey - A photographic tour to the high Andes region of Bolivia with High Lives...

"Bolivian Odyssey - A photographic tour to the high Andes region of Bolivia in March 2016. 
In partnership with High Lives 

Here are some of the highlights from our recent photo tour of this exotic and exciting region of the world.

Bolivia is still a truly exciting travel experience. It has UNESCO world heritage cities of exquisite colonial beauty, A fiercely traditional indigenous population that clings to it's traditions of religion, lifestyle and dress code, the largest and highest salt flats in the world, along with magical high altitude desert regions and colourful volcanic lagoons. Here is a day by day account of the trip.

Day One: 

AM: We prepare ourselves for the tour ahead with a couple of photographic tutorials on the technical capabilities of our camera's and I introduce a toolbox full of handy tips and tools to help capture great travel pictures.

As we walk from the hotel to lunch along the main street in Sucre, I pause to take a picture of a woman in traditional dress selling fruit on the street corner. She spots the camera of course and brandishes her rather sharp looking knife in my direction with a grimace and an energetic stabbing motion! Now that would of been an interesting shot, I think, but actually it sums up the challenge to would-be people-photographers visiting Bolivia and wanting to take pictures of the locals.

The answer of course is surprisingly helpful to photographers;
a) because it forces us to think about why we take pictures in the first place.
b) To what use we will put the images after we them
c) Also it makes us think about our relationship to the local culture and it's traditions.

The woman's behaviour at first seems somewhat over the top to those from a western culture, particularly one that is steeped in the photographic tradition and that is used to photography on an almost daily level. In fact it is the fierceness with which the indigenous Bolivian uphold their tradition that is at the heart of this suspicion about having their picture taken, along with the superstitious nature of the average Bolivian. Her fear and suspicion are two-fold, one is modern, in that she wonders if you are somehow going to make a profit from her image and the second is superstitious, in that the practice of magic is still widespread in Bolivia and the practice of magic, for either good or bad often involves the use of an image of the subject!

So if you want to take pictures of the local indigenous people of Bolivia, what is the answer? How do you go about it? The answer is of course to seek the help of local guides and approach your subject with respect, assuring them that the picture you wish to take is neither for profit or to do them harm. That is why our knowledgeable local guides agree to take our small photographic tour to the indigenous market on the edge of Sucre, rather than the oft-visited central market. Here it is we foreigners that are the novelty and with a little conversation and humour we begin to overcome the natural resistance to photography here in Bolivia. The real beauty is of course that a dialogue however limited by language is developed between photographer and subject and this is often a rewarding thing for both!

Indigenous Market Sucre

Indigenous Market Sucre

Indigenous Market Sucre

Most of the commerce in Bolivia is in the hands of the indigenous women. A trade they excel at. In this market tourists are so rare that we become the novelty for a change!

After a rewarding time in the market we set out to explore the beautiful UNESCO world heritage city of Sucre...

We're lucky with the weather as Bolivia experiences an early Autumn heat wave!

Recoleta (Franciscan) Monastery

Recoleta (Franciscan) Monastery.

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