Taking pictures of people in other countries can be intimidating because people in other cultures may have different reactions towards being photographed. It can also be very extremely rewarding because of the exposure to different environments, customs, attires and languages. Many countries in Latin America are exceptional for street photography because of the rich colors on the streets and the wide variety of people one can encounter. It can also be very chaotic because of the overload of elements that can be captured in the frame. This creates a challenge for the street photographer, which can only lead to sharpening our skills in dealing with people and also train our eye to find great images.
“I wish more people felt that photography was an adventure the same as life itself”.- Harry Callahan
One thing I’ve encountered when taking pictures in Latin America is that many people expect to be paid if you take their picture. This is something that every street photographer will encounter from time to time so it is important to be prepared for this. As a rule I do not give people money to take their pictures. I usually gauge the situation and if I see that someone might want money then I just move along. On occasions I would buy something that a street vendor is offering if it would enhance the experience and would calm their fears that I am doing something suspicious. It is much better to be seen as a curious tourist than a journalist with dubious intentions.
“New images surround us everywhere. They are invisible only because of sterile routine convention and fear.” – Lisette Model
Most people are friendly and peaceful and sometimes they are just fearful. They may think that I’m taking pictures as a photojournalist with the intention of commercial gain or that I might be with the government spying on them. This is a valid fear and is our responsibility to alleviate those fears. In general, it helps to know the language or to bring along someone who is local and can help explain our intentions or diffuse any potentially dangerous situations. It goes without saying that a local person can also help us avoid really dangerous areas.
“Life isn’t perfect, but then photography isn’t either.”- Peter Galassi
Doing street photography in different parts of the world from what we are used to will definitely get us out of the comfort zone and being out of the comfort zone usually leads to better pictures. What are your experiences when shooting in a different country?
“I love the people I photograph. I mean, they’re my friends. I’ve never met most of them or I don’t know them at all, yet through my images I live with them.“ Bruce Gilden
I hope you enjoyed the pictures. They were all taken during my last visit to Asuncion, Paraguay. Comments and feedback are appreciated. Thank you for visiting.
All images on this post are (C) Juan Jose Reyes. All Rights Reserved.