Catching candid shots in Lambayeque

April 7th, 2011

Tom Filipowicz discusses his difficulty in snapping those candid photos that seem to tell a tale, a situation made all the worse by a people ready and eager to pose.

Article brought to you by Mochica Hostess Tours

The list of photographic subjects in the Lambayeque Region is endless. There are historical sites, colonial buildings, street markets, mountains, beautiful desert shrubbery and many more. Day in and day out what I enjoy photographing most is people. I don’t mean the standard ‘this is my cousin and her uncle’ photo. I look for that rare moment when the person (or people), setting, time and circumstances all come together to voice a statement.

Ninety-five percent of the time when that type of opportunity presents itself I miss it, usually because I’m too late and the moment has passed. Sometimes I think I got the shot only to discover it’s not there when I get home. All the pieces are there but the substance is missing. The camera obviously didn’t see what I saw, perhaps because what I saw was as much a feeling as physical objects.

Another reason it is difficult to photograph people is because Peruvians like to pose. They want to sit or stand erect with hair in place, clothing smoothed and a serious expression on their faces…which often destroys the effect that caught my attention to begin with.

Catching Peruvians in a candid situation is hard to do, but sometimes their posing actually creates the effect I’m looking for. I saw the head of this woman looking at me from inside her doorway and was wondering if I could get a photo of her peeking at me, when she suddenly came outside with the little girl in hand, and then struck this pose. There is a lot in this photo that speaks to me, with the repaired sandal having the loudest voice.

This man was also watching us through a window. As we approached his house he stepped to the doorway and motioned for us to come inside. For whatever reason he apparently wanted to show us the corn shucking process he and the boy were doing on corn probably grown on the plot behind his house.

We saw this family hurriedly setting up for a photo as we drew near their house. This photo…like the others above speaks to me of pride and dignity. The message is, “We sell fish!”, which is probably what their ancestors have been doing for generations in that same house in that same small village. Other sources of income likely come from the moto taxi and portable food kiosk in the background.

I have no idea who this man is but couldn’t resist taking the photo. His clothing, like something a cartoon character would wear is what initially caught my attention. The contradiction of the lettering above his head and his being asleep didn’t dawn on me until later. Perhaps readers in Trujillo can tell us something about him.

These are just four of hundreds of photos that I call favorites. But perhaps they don’t speak to you as they do to me, and that’s okay. I believe that photos capture not only what we see but a part of who we are, and we are all different.

If you’d like to experience places like this and get a taste of real daily life in northern provincial Peru, speak to Tom & Maribel via Mochica Hostess Tours

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