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A Fresh Start - Guatemala the Culture the People

Discussion in 'Street, Documentary, and Portrait' started by Robert Watcher, Nov 20, 2015.

  1. Coming to Guatemala a day ago after spending parts of 4 years in Nicaragua - - - is like NIGHT AND DAY. Guatemala is much more like being in a city in the United States.

    We haven't made it to our destination of Xela yet as we wanted to stop on the way and get a taste of the capital Guatemala City and today will be spending time in beautiful Antigua a hour and a half away.

    Walking the streets in the centre of town reminds me of our memorable experiences in San Jose, Costa Rica. The main street heading out from the government buildings, is a long strip of people walking, artisans and performers, and stores and malls with everything the eye desires.

    I have been warned about the dangers of having a camera in many parts of the city such as here - but I my adventure is to take pictures after all - - - also I was told that I wouldn't have the freedom of taking photos of people and that to take any, I would have to pay them.

    At least those were warnings from a few individuals and research on the web prior to coming. But I have heard the same things when we were in Costa Rica and as well Nicaragua - so I will continue to use common sense and photograph the people and the culture as before. I'm only one afternoon into my street shooting, but the experience was amazing and satisfying.

    Here are a few of the 700 photos that I took along this stretch yesterday afternoon. For many of my shots I was able to stop and talk to the people for a while, ask their name and tell them my name and that I am Canadian and have moved to Guatemala - which opened up more discussion about the weather and sports. I then asked if I could take their photo - - - including a policeman - and all but one young boy selling toys with his father closely, agreed and requested nothing for it.

    Photos taken with mirrorless camera Olympus E-PL5 and 14-42 kit lens.
    Last edited: Nov 20, 2015
    • Appreciate Appreciate x 1

  2. 20151119-_RSW8089-Edit.
    Policeman named Mynor Leonel

    Mayan Woman Sleeping on the Job

    Artist named Luis David

    Last edited: Nov 20, 2015
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  3. 20151119-_RSW7982-Edit.
    Glass Engraver named Jose Luis

    Jewelry Maker and Metal Engraver named Dionicio

    Man Sitting on Window Ledge named Wilbur

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  4. We have quickly gotten settled in Xela in the western highlands of Guatemala. Our altitude is just under 8,000 feet. The days are nicely warm and evening quite cold - even getting to freezing and a bit below on some nights. There is no heat in most homes, so lots of warm clothing and blankets are a requirement.

    Within 1 day of arriving in Xela from Guatemala City, we were able to find a very nice apartment situated in a very convenient location in the large city. Photography will not be in the same order as it was in Nicaragua. There are photo opportunities, but much different and probably not as varied - - - as Xela is a quite modern city and except for the many Maya women, children and families in the streets and markets - I am harder pressed to find such unique subjects and content as I have had the last 3 years in Nica.

    One thing that Anne and I love is that the city is wrapped in mountains and a couple of volcanoes. As I was walking around town I was trying to imagine where I may be able to find a rooftop to gain access to - so that I could have an overview of the city and mountainscapes. Then one recent evening I wondered if I went up the flights of stairs in our 4 floor apartment building - if I could get a more interesting viewpoint out of one of the stairways windows - than from our 2nd floor balcony.

    Well as I nears the top floor, I found that a door was open onto the roof. I walked out onto the cement pad, to find that I was fully exposed to the whole city and surroundings - in all directions - virtually unobstructed. Our building happens to be in one of the highest places in the city. For this alone, our rent was worth it.

    Here are some photos that I have taken over the past week, from our rooftop:




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  5. 65% of the population in Xela are Maya. We have a street market just 3 blocks from our home when we pick up fresh radishes, green onions, carrots, beets and fruits almost every day. I snapped a few shots of the women working in the market the other day. As before, I will be taking prints to them. Fortunately there are many photo processing stores in Xela:




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  6. Here is a selection of Street Images that I took around Central Park this afternoon:





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  7. PacNWMike

    PacNWMike Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Dec 5, 2014
    Salish Sea
    Looking forward to you going out into the countryside.
    • Like Like x 1
  8. TwoWheels

    TwoWheels Mu-43 Top Veteran

    May 28, 2014
    British Columbia
    Great photos/portraits! Thanks for sharing.
    • Like Like x 1
  9. An Interesting Collection of Architectures in Xela - from Modern American to Colonial to Corinthian to European (German, Spanish) - dates going back to the 16th Century. Lots of Character in the streets.





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  10. People Busy in the Streets




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  11. In the same way that sewing machines are still operated by foot treadle - - - Candy Floss machines prevail and operate by hand crank - generally turned by a son as was the case here last night:


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  13. 少林chris

    少林chris Mu-43 Regular

    Jun 28, 2013
    Los Angeles / Copenhagen
    Interesting to see people in their environments. A tad too much sharpness and color saturation for my taste, but you are the artist. In the first set it great to see you got up close and providing and interesting written story as well. Nice series!
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  14. Street Vendors




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    • Agree Agree x 1
  15. It's been a bit since I set my Olympus E-PL5 to Grainy Black and White in square format - so that all processing is done in camera. But that is how I went about shooting the streets of Xela, Guatemala this afternoon.

    Two and half hours of exploring narrow streets, twists and turns and dead-ends, produced around 300 shots from which there will be a large selection of prized (by me) images.

    The first image is one I am very proud of. It is definitely my PIC OF THE DAY. I turned a corner and there was this incredible composition and light tonality just waiting for me to take advantage of.

    Image #1

    Image #2

    Image #3


    I ended up with several very interesting images containing silhouettes of people. Here are 2 of them:

    Image #4

    Image #5

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  16. Some Guatemala Colour - 1

    Colour #1

    Colour #2

    Colour #3

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