Peru Photo Essay: Christmas in the barrios

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“Stop!!!!” – I am quite sure it was Amy who first screamed what we all wanted, to stop the car. We had just spotted these wonderful people dressing up in the ‘barrios’ neighborhood of the town of Arequipa. Out jumps 9 photographers, like a task force, causing quite a stir. Fortunately the incredibly cool and nice people loved having 9 photographers documenting their small intimate Christmas festival, one of my favourite events in the entire workshop and unscripted, entirely by chance that we happened to be passing by. They invited us to stay and partake in the festivities, wanting to share their food and beer. What incredible hospitality, 9 photographers show up and they instantly invites us in to dinner. Peruvians are cool.

This is the photo essay I submitted for our second review, day 3 of the Photoexperience.net Peru workshop with Daniel Milnor.  Slightly modified version, featuring Dan’s suggestions for sequencing. Quite happy with this essay, the first two images are two of my favourites from Peru and good images do not happen often and require a lot of work. I am very excited about working this way, always thinking of an image series and a story. Documentary photography, storytelling and bookmaking was the reason for doing the workshop and is where my focus and interest is, exciting and challenging.

20 comments on “Peru Photo Essay: Christmas in the barrios

  1. Flemming wonderful images.
    You stated that this was a photo essay and I was wondering how you define such. I have read many such definitions and seen the idea take off all over the internet lately for folks. It is something I have always believed was the strength of the medium that and well done photobooks. The seeming definition of essay or photo story has changed to my eyes over the 40 yrs I have been looking at them and would love to hear your thoughts on what makes a photo essay or story.
    hope Au is warmer for you than the altiplano

    • Thank you Ray, much appreciated. For me, a photo essay simply means ‘a linked set of images covering or telling a story’. I suppose I could also just call them Photo Story, I just like the word essay, to me it says something about telling a story with sequenced images and perhaps also text but not necessarily.

      • Wondering how images link in terms of story or essay. Are images taken in a place or over a period of time considered an essay or story? I had thought a story or essay was to impart a point of view or something about a person or place. Depth as well as narrative lead into a conclusion. Lesson or point of view as it were about something.
        Linked is something I find extremely vague and can be used in so many ways.
        I see essay as something very different than a story and wondered if others thought they were interchangeable.

  2. Hey Bo. Long time no see! I do travel photography all over the USA, but want to get to more exotic venues.
    I just want you to know I’m envious of your travels. Keep it up big guy!

  3. Fantastic Flemming. I can just imaging the collective thought of “STOP” coming out her mouth and the pouring of the group of you out into the Peruvian road. Great images and great sequencing!

    • Thanks very much Brian. Basically everywhere we stopped it was like a small invasion of photographers, must have looked awfully strange. Fortunately people were totally cool and welcoming, Peruvian hospitality is incredible.

  4. I’d stop too if I saw those faces in the first shot. They’re certainly arresting!

    I’m not getting as much out of this photo essay as I probably should – they’re good images but the “story” part of it is a bit fragmented for me, especially since your text suggests there was a lot of interaction and background info I’m not privy to. Is the aim of the essay to cover the festival itself, pick up on the motifs, highlight the costume…? I’m still struggling with this whole photo essay thing so don’t take it as any kind of criticism… just asking for more info to process. Oh and, what’s the significance of the peacock feathers? And how do they stick them to the headgear so they don’t fall off??

    • That is a lot of questions my friend. Will elaborate tomorrow :) I do not know the significance of the peacock feathers, nor do I know how they stay on. It’s a mystery. Like the Bolivian bowler hats. Or how people driving snowplows get to work.

    • The procession part (this is a Christmas ceremony) is probably the main subject of my essay. Yes there’s a few ‘holes’, images I screwed up or could not get due to sharing the scene with 8 other photographers. But the story is whatever you get out of my images, that was the whole challenge, present the story to the group, no words allowed – so I don’t want to add explanatory text :)

      • We’ll have a good chat about this one tomorrow. I’m looking forward to getting inside your head :)

        I know, i’m horrible with all these questions. But I’m so totally intrigued!

  5. Flemming,

    Been following your blog on and off for a while. Second to last shot is awesome. Ive been down there and that one really conjurs the place up for me…bucket, textured face of the wall, clothes line…..all of it provides terrific context for the the subject without detracting from it – fantastic! Also like the idea of the project/series work.

    Keep up the good work!
    Steve

  6. Pingback: Peru PhotoExperience.Net Workshop 2013 | Journal of photographer Flemming Bo Jensen

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