Bolivia Remembered

Bolivia, Santa Cruz de la Sierra, December 2011. The camera stares at, grins at me lying on my hostel bed in tropical heat–I shoot angry glares back. The camera has been kicking my butt every day for some weeks and I hate it right now. Despise photography. But I need to pick it up and go create something. Need an outlet. A dark storm hovers in my mind, I am depressed, all purpose seems lost and recent events including a suicide made me fall in a black hole devoid of all light. I walk the world feeling completely disconnected from human life. Despising myself and my existence. As always, light this bright casts some very dark shadows. Despite an abundance of sun light in tropical Santa Cruz I have been in the shadows for days. I like extremes–I seek extremes. Fitting then I guess, that I am in the darkest of moods in the brightest of warm tropical weather.

Get out. Walk. Standing still never worked for me. Must keep moving. Or shadows catch up. Grab the damn camera and walk, walk the streets of this hot, weird and interesting melting pot of a city. Get out of this hostel from hell. Walk, damn legs, walk. A market appears. A gigantic chaotic market bigger than any market I have seen in Asia or anywhere else. A world inside a world. No hiding here. Not a single gringo in sight anywhere. I break out the camera. Channel my darkness into looking, seeing, shooting, making images.

Flemming-Bo-Jensen-Bolivia-Santa-Cruz-street

Flemming-Bo-Jensen-Bolivia-Santa-Cruz-street-women

These are two of my favourite pictures from Bolivia and I like putting them together. They look like one image, almost. The top image is from the street I lived on and an easy image to make. The second image is my favourite from Bolivia, women at the largest market ever in the history of all markets–that I have been to. Filled at least 15 square city blocks. Hard to shoot this image. NO ONE wanted to be part of any photos. Had to steal images as I walked around being the most noticeable person in the entire city.

Memories are funny. These words are written about a year after the images were made. And I want to return to Bolivia. Have been on my mind recently. Calls me back. It is one of the hardest places to work in that I have experienced. I was in a dark, dark place for the 10 days I was there. But it was a very interesting place filled with awesome people and places of contrast and extremes. That’s why I want to return of course. The challenge. And I need the extremes. To create. To feel alive.

America Del Sur in Print

Two and a half month I traveled and worked in América Del Sur. Having the opportunity to shoot almost every day I made a fair amount of images, street and documentary photography and some portraits. Images that I am now just starting to look at. And there’s nothing like prints to edit, sequence, select and judge images. So I very loosely selected a handful of images that looked interesting, turned out to be 185 images, about 3-4% of what I had captured. I made small prints of all of these and now I can play with them. Spread them all over the floor of the boat, touch them, shuffle them around, sequence, select them. Prints just speak to me in a way pixels on a screen do not. I can sequence and edit them over and over, creating a new creative result every time.  I am wanting to bring the physical process back into my photography and am looking forward to hopefully soon be shooting and processing black-white film myself with a Leica M6.

Looking at these images, do I have a body of work? I do not really know. There are some good images. A few greats. Lots of mediocre ones, good intentions, poor results. Forcing something out of nothing. Do I want to do something with these images? A new book? Books? A much smaller book, say concentrating on stories of Peru? Question everything? Yes. I do not know, that is part of what the prints are for, I can get to know what I have captured and see what (if anything) I want to do with these images. What do they tell me, what do I feel looking at them? Prints, even tiny ones like these, are a very important part of the process.