Monday, August 30, 2010

Working at the market in Otavalo, Ecuador

A very busy end of the summer causing a small hiatus from my posts...probably to your benefit! But alas, I've returned with much catching up to do.

I spent much of August (and a little more than anticipated on account of my wife's stolen passport) in Ecuador. It's always a pain lugging a camera around with me for my trips, but I wouldn't be happy with myself if I didn't, and I think it's well worth it. I made a few sacrifices in flexibility here and there to gain the benefit of weight, portability, and security, but I'll save that for the posts about the jungle involving water. For now, I just wanted to share one of my favorite images from the trip. It's in the top 5, but don't make choose between those.

Several reasons this image almost didn't happen, but the main one is because a Gringo from the US taking pictures of locales is cliche. Sure, the photos we see of locals in Nat Geo along with other travel magazines are amazing, they give us a glimpse into worlds we can only dream of. But usually those photographers get a chance to live and exist with the people, and most importantly gain some of their respect in the process.

My wife and I had been exploring the Otavalo market for a bit and because my wife is so fascinated by all things South American she stopped to not only shop and our subject's booth, but also to strike up a conversation with her about the materials and methods used to make her fabrics and jewelry (in Spanish of course because she's that good). My wife even received an explanation about the traditional clothing and necklaces she wore. I'd share that with you now, but once our merchant saw how genuinely interested my wife was in her art, my eyes honed in on the spark in our merchant's eyes and my ears shut off to start seeing photos available (I'm not sure if both eyes and ears not working at the same time is a condition of a photographer or just of my sex).

Regardless, I could tell at this point it wouldn't be inappropriate to ask if I could take her photograph. I asked graciously though my wife, and she accepted. One frame, aperture priority exposed at -2/3. It's a difficult balance between taking photos and experiencing your trip, but sometimes they can be one in the same. Luckily my wife probably listens better, so I can share the photo with her, and she can share the story with me.

The people of Otavalo were gracious and willing to share their story, so if you ever go, I encourage you to ask.

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