I was in Colombia for all of January, February and the first half of March. There’s no lab anywhere in the country that will process large format film. I had to take it all with me to New York. Thankfully none of it was damaged by the x-ray scanners at the airport. Here are a few pictures from my time there:
This was the first time I’ve ever done street portraits of strangers with my 8×10 camera. Asking strangers for photos with such a large and strange-looking camera is not hard at all. I found the hard part to be dealing with all the attention the camera drew. That, and trying to figure out how to direct people in the photo once they said yes. I ended up taking a lot of pictures of people standing exactly in the middle of the frame, looking at the lens. Not that it’s a bad look, necessarily.
Often people just came up to me and asked to have their picture taken. I only had 3 film holders which meant I could only take 6 photos in any given outing. I had to say no a lot. In the photo below, this man came up to me and said he was the oldest gay in the square and that I should take his picture. I couldn’t say no to that. It was my last photo too.
Taking pictures of strangers on the street without a clear idea of why or what for is a great way to burn through a lot of film and money, especially with an 8×10 camera where each picture costs about $20 [don’t blink!].
With my 4×5 camera I went to a lot of different neighborhoods and surrounding cities and mostly took of pictures of houses and small buildings. Bogota and its surrounding cities have a very interesting aesthetic. I think it has something to do with being at 8,000 feet in elevation and having it never be too hot or too cold. Let’s call it Goldilocks architecture. It’s all the stuff you can build if you never need central heat or air.
While I was out shooting, residents in the neighborhoods usually thought I was a city employee, assessing property values or something. People would come up to me and complain about potholes or broken lamp posts.
Just being out and about I’d come across some interesting situations which I just had to photograph.
You’re probably wondering why these scans are so atrocious. They’re not actually scans. Contact sheets are really expensive in the US, so everything was just process only. All I had time for was to take a quick snapshot of the negative sitting on the light table at the lab with a digital point and shoot, which I then inverted in Photoshop. I wish I had access to a color dark room and/or a good scanner. Alas, I’m headed back to South America and I’ll be leaving these negatives with a friend here in New York for safekeeping. Someday I’ll have to do right by these pictures.