Monthly Archives: September 2013

Graffiti in the City

Spray paint in splattered across almost every building in Santiago. The graffiti ranges from artistic murals to vulgar phrases. In some settings it enhances the beauty of the city, while in others it defaces historic architecture. In general, it is illegal, but the carabineros in Chile don’t seem to do much to prevent the painting.

In my travels around the city streets of Santiago, I have discovered two groups of people working on some wall art. One group was working on a project to cover a blank wall in broad daylight. Their commissioned work was being filmed for a time lapse video over a period of five days. Another time I ran across two teenagers starting to tag a wall in the middle of the night. They were not worried about being caught, but I noticed their art had been painted over by the next week.

(From left) Julian Gaona, 13, and Nicholas Douglas, 14, paint graffiti on a temporary wall surrounding construction on Sept. 6, 2013 in Santiago, Chile.

(From left) Julian Gaona, 13, and Nicholas Douglas, 14, paint graffiti on a temporary wall surrounding construction on Sept. 6, 2013 in Santiago, Chile. Gaona said he likes to tag because it’s a “form of expression.”

Telly Gaitua works on a mural being filmed for a time lapse video on Aug. 26, 2013 in Santiago, Chile.

Telly Gacitua works on a mural being filmed for a time lapse video on Aug. 26, 2013 in Santiago, Chile.

A note about my cameras: I took the photo of Gacitua on my iphone because I felt uncomfortable carrying my 5D III around the city with me my first few days in Chile. For one, I was concerned I might be robbed and I also didn’t want to look like a tourist any more than I already do with my blond hair and giant backpack. My iphone did a good job capturing scenes for me, and I must admit that in some ways I like it more than my SLR. It is less conspicuous and more quickly accessible. I think subjects feel more comfortable in front of an phone than a big camera because they are familiar with taking pictures of themselves and their friends on their own. (That said, people carry around SLRs to a lot of events as well.) I’ve found that when I feel like an outsider, my more artistic and well-composed photos come from my phone, but I have been hesitant to shoot events on it because I feel like I have less control over the outcome of the picture (focusing, shutter speed, metering, etc.). Still, I’m interested in seeing what I can produce with it. I know a lot of photojournalists have shot stories with only a phone, and now that they have quality cameras, it is possible to shoot high quality images. Perhaps I’ll try it soon.

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Alternative Transportation

I take a dance class in Chile on Tuesday nights, and afterwards I walk to the Plaza Baquedano to catch the Metro home. Baquedano is one of the city hubs for protests and gatherings, so I’ve had the chance to see some interesting scenes and snap photos.

This particular night I walked out to see hundreds of people and bikes scattered across the plaza. The first Tuesday of every month, they have a “Cicletada” to promote bike transportation in the city. More than 6,000 people start the ride at various locations throughout the city to promote bikes as a non-polluting mode of transportation that is economical, good for the environment, and a great way to exercise.

Hundreds of cyclists gather on Sept. 3, 3013 in Plaza Baquedano for a bicycle ride to promote biking as a mode of transportation. More than 6000 people participate in the ride on the first Tuesday of each month.

Hundreds of cyclists gather on Sept. 3, 3013 in Plaza Baquedano for a bicycle ride to promote biking as a mode of transportation. More than 6,000 people participate in the ride on the first Tuesday of each month.

Diego Cortes (left) and Jaime Yavara patch a tire on Sept. 3, 2013 before a "cicletada."

Diego Cortes (left) and Jaime Yavara patch a tire on Sept. 3, 2013 before a “cicletada.”

Diego Cortes patches his bike tire on Sept. 3, 2013.

Diego Cortes patches his bike tire on Sept. 3, 2013.

Bikers start rolling down the street on Sept. 3, 2013 for the monthly "cicletada" to promote biking as a healthy, economical and environmentally conscious mode of transportation.

Bikers start rolling down the street on Sept. 3, 2013 for the monthly “cicletada” to promote biking as a healthy, economical and environmentally conscious mode of transportation.

I’ve been amazed at the amount of alternative transportation events I see in the city. The public transportation system already functions well, and can get someone almost anywhere they want to go. Possibly the amount of pollution in Santiago motivates these events. I also recently saw a parade of skaters and skateboarders filling the freeway near another metro station. They, like the bikers, gather every month for a ride to promote alternative transportation.

Skaters roll and walk down the street on Sept. 14, 2013 to promote alternative transportation.

Skaters roll and walk down the street on Sept. 14, 2013 to promote alternative transportation.

Hare Krishna

Tatiana Ortega prepares flower garlands for the Janmastami Festival. Hundreds of people gathered to celebrate the Janmastami Festival that commemorates the birth of the Hindu god Krishna on August 28, 2013 at Hare Krishna Temple in Santiago, Chile.

Tatiana Ortega prepares flower garlands for the Janmastami Festival. Hundreds of people gathered to celebrate the Janmastami Festival that commemorates the birth of the Hindu god Krishna on August 28, 2013 at Hare Krishna Temple in Santiago, Chile.

I came to Chile to experience Latin American culture, learn Spanish and hone my skills as a photojournalist in a foreign country. It’s amazing how quickly I’ve gotten comfortable with talking to people and asking for caption information despite the language barrier. At the same time, I can’t record quite as much information about the pictures I take because of my limitations. People in Santiago are very open to being photographed, and I’m often not the only person with an SLR camera. People are constantly recording moments with their phones and cameras, which helps me feel less like a tourist or glaringly obvious photographer.

As far as experiencing Latin culture, I’ve done plenty of that, but I’ve also come to realize how much we share world cultures and traditions. I photographed a Hindu festival, which is not the traditional religion in Chile, before photographing any other big groups of people. The scene was similar to a Hindu festival I might find in the U.S., and at times I forgot I wasn’t at home. Dancing and chanting came from instincts deep within people’s bodies. Vibrant colors filled the room. I was almost overwhelmed by how many interesting moments there were to photograph. It was difficult to stay still, because my body wanted to dance, as I shot the jubilant faces of the people at the festival.

Here are some of my favorites:

A woman pauses during dancing at the Janmastami Festival to take a video of the scene. Hundreds of people gathered to celebrate the Janmastami Festival that commemorates the birth of the Hindu god Krishna on August 28, 2013 at Hare Krishna Temple in Santiago, Chile.

A woman pauses during dancing at the Janmastami Festival to take a video of the scene. Hundreds of people gathered to celebrate the Janmastami Festival that commemorates the birth of the Hindu god Krishna on August 28, 2013 at Hare Krishna Temple in Santiago, Chile.

Are Mirochnick tries to get Ian to dance at the Janmastami Festival. Hundreds of people gathered to celebrate the Janmastami Festival that commemorates the birth of the Hindu god Krishna on August 28, 2013 at Hare Krishna Temple in Santiago, Chile.

Are Mirochnick tries to get Ian to dance at the Janmastami Festival. Hundreds of people gathered to celebrate the Janmastami Festival that commemorates the birth of the Hindu god Krishna on August 28, 2013 at Hare Krishna Temple in Santiago, Chile.

(From left) Sachi, Anandini and Goura dance in front of an alter for Krisha. Hundreds of people gathered to celebrate the Janmastami Festival that commemorates the birth of the Hindu god Krishna on August 28, 2013 at Hare Krishna Temple in Santiago, Chile.

(From left) Sachi, Anandini and Goura dance in front of an alter for Krisha. Hundreds of people gathered to celebrate the Janmastami Festival that commemorates the birth of the Hindu god Krishna on August 28, 2013 at Hare Krishna Temple in Santiago, Chile.

Are Mirochnick (in white) dances with other men at the Janmastami Festival. Hundreds of people gathered to celebrate the Janmastami Festival that commemorates the birth of the Hindu god Krishna on August 28, 2013 at Hare Krishna Temple in Santiago, Chile.

Are Mirochnick (in white) dances with other men at the Janmastami Festival. Hundreds of people gathered to celebrate the Janmastami Festival that commemorates the birth of the Hindu god Krishna on August 28, 2013 at Hare Krishna Temple in Santiago, Chile.

Adriana Waikinao paints Loreto Millalen's feet with lipstick to mimic henna before they perform a dance. Hundreds of people gathered to celebrate the Janmastami Festival that commemorates the birth of the Hindu god Krishna on August 28, 2013 at Hare Krishna Temple in Santiago, Chile.

Adriana Waikinao paints Loreto Millalen’s feet with lipstick to mimic henna before they perform a dance. Hundreds of people gathered to celebrate the Janmastami Festival that commemorates the birth of the Hindu god Krishna on August 28, 2013 at Hare Krishna Temple in Santiago, Chile.

Sachi waits to perform a theater dance with other girls. Hundreds of people gathered to celebrate the Janmastami Festival that commemorates the birth of the Hindu god Krishna on August 28, 2013 at Hare Krishna Temple in Santiago, Chile.

Sachi waits to perform a theater dance with other girls. Hundreds of people gathered to celebrate the Janmastami Festival that commemorates the birth of the Hindu god Krishna on August 28, 2013 at Hare Krishna Temple in Santiago, Chile.

A man bows to Krishna upon entering the Janmastami Festival. Hundreds of people gathered to celebrate the Janmastami Festival that commemorates the birth of the Hindu god Krishna on August 28, 2013 at Hare Krishna Temple in Santiago, Chile.

A man bows to Krishna upon entering the Janmastami Festival. Hundreds of people gathered to celebrate the Janmastami Festival that commemorates the birth of the Hindu god Krishna on August 28, 2013 at Hare Krishna Temple in Santiago, Chile.

Caballos en Chile

Hello world! I feel a little bit disconnected from my normal life because I’ve been eating empanadas, walking through calles and exploring cajones. I’m studying Spanish for the next four months in Santiago, Chile. I’m also working on figuring out how to effectively “photojournalize” in a foreign country, in a language I don’t know very well….yet.

I’ve had a slew of amazing experiences in the short three weeks I’ve been here so far. One of them is watching my host brothers in their equitacion class at a Military Camp in San Bernardo. I was fascinated more by the other horse activities around the camp than the class itself, mostly because the light in the arena was, well, nada. I guess I’m drawn to la luz!

But enough of my Spanglish, here are a few photos:

Soldiers Jesús Cordero and Adrian Mallea train Panteon the horse on August 24, 2013 at Campo Militar San Bernardo in Santiago, Chile.

Soldiers Jesús Cordero and Adrian Mallea train Panteon the horse on August 24, 2013 at Campo Militar San Bernardo in Santiago, Chile.

(From left) Soldiers Jesús Cordero and Adrian Mallea pose with Panteon the horse after a rigorous training on August 24, 2013 at Campo Militar San Bernardo in Santiago, Chile.

(From left) Soldiers Jesús Cordero and Adrian Mallea pose with Panteon the horse after a rigorous training on August 24, 2013 at Campo Militar San Bernardo in Santiago, Chile.

Beatrice Muñoz, 19, finishes washing her horse on August 24, 2013 at Campo Militar San Bernardo in Santigo, Chile. Tons of dust covers the horses after equestrian riding classes she takes at the arena each Saturday.

Beatrice Muñoz, 19, finishes washing her horse on August 24, 2013 at Campo Militar San Bernardo in Santigo, Chile. Tons of dust covers the horses after equestrian riding classes she takes at the arena each Saturday.

Patricio Leyton oversees Sebastián (left) and Benjamín Santibañez mixing feed for horses on August 24, 2013 at Campo Militar San Bernardo in Santiago, Chile.

Patricio Leyton oversees Sebastián (left) and Benjamín Santibañez mixing feed for horses on August 24, 2013 at Campo Militar San Bernardo in Santiago, Chile.