>> Saturday, July 26, 2014
This is the ninth post in the Hello Argentina Series detailing my week-long trip in Buenos Aires, Argentina. Other posts include Hello Argentina, La Cabrera, La Rambla, Empanadas, Tamales, and Beer, Oh My!, Cabanas Las Lilas, Buenos Aires - Three Most Famous Ice Cream Shops, Chila, Elena, and Oviedo.
This post is a little different from my typical posts.
The focus is not on food. It's about another one of my passions - photography.
I didn't get into photography until much later in life, unlike those around me. My sister, in fact, got into photography in high school. She had an SLR way before I did (of the film variety!), and even in college, Bryan got an SLR and started taking really nice photos during our university years (of which I'm really thankful now! It's really nice to have high quality photos from that era of my life).
Me, I didn't get into photography really until this food blog began. It's sort of embarrassing for me to look back at my photos from those early days, though I keep the posts there as a reminder to myself of how far I've come.
I've never been formally trained. I've never taken a class, workshop, or anything to learn this skill. I have no patience for books or instruction manuals, so I just learn by experimentation. Thankfully, digital photography has made that much easier (and cheaper!).
During our week in Buenos Aires, I ended up having several days by myself while Bryan was at his work conference. Unlike in Japan, where I felt perfectly comfortable exploring the city by myself, I didn't feel the same way about Buenos Aires. I'd heard about the petty crimes. My general lack of knowledge and familiarity with the city made me more nervous and thus more cautious.
So what did I do? I signed up for various tours led by English-speaking people. My favorite one turned out to be a day long photography workshop in Buenos Aires with Foto Ruta.
At 10AM, I met my teacher, a British born woman named Emma who had been living in Buenos Aires for six years. Emma spoke fluent Spanish and navigated the city with ease. She was super friendly, and I immediately felt much more relaxed. There were two students that day: me and this guy from Luxembourg called Philippe who had recently quit his attorney job and was spending the year traveling around the world (how cool is that??).
Emma started out by spending about 30-40 minutes giving us a basic tutorial about photography. Although it was reasonably basic, I still learned some interesting tips from the talk.
And then . . . it was time to shoot!
The best part of this tour was Emma's knowledge of cool places in the city to photograph. She brought us to tiny traditional Argentinian shops, fun food markets, cool, cobbly streets, and funky neighborhoods where the street art was magnificent.
Throughout the day, she would challenge us to think about photos in a different way.
Try shooting a photo with the camera on the ground, or play around with reflections in puddles or mirrors.
Don't be afraid of direct sunlight - it creates a totally different looking shot, but it's not always bad.
Don't be afraid to ask people if you can photograph them. Some will say no, but others will be flattered. You'll be surprised how often people are willing.
We put that into practice immediately. Emma stepped into an old school shoe repair shop and asked the cobbler if we could photograph him. He obliged, and just continued to do his thing while we snapped away.
This is my favorite shot from that shoot.
The streets of Buenos Aires are filled with beautiful, bold colors. It's gritty yet vibrant at the same time. It was really nice having a guide help me navigate the city to get to some of these cool, backstreets to explore.
I was thrilled to catch this motorcyclist, who zoomed into my photo at just the right time to complete the rough yet vivid mood of this photo.
We continued to explore the city, trying our best to capture its mood, personality, and heart.
As part of the tour, we had lunch at a charming, traditional cafe where we enjoyed a traditional Argentinian spread of cured meat, cheese, pate, and eggs. The food was lovely, and the entire experience felt so authentic.
These guys were such hams, posing for me from the back of a moving truck.
This next photo is my favorite photo. I thought it would be so fun to try to channel M.C. Escher at this old mansion-turned-marketplace in Buenos Aires. Philippe and Emma were more than obliging and participated in this fun shot.
I had a really, really fun time with Emma and Philippe photographing this beautiful city. By the end of the day, it felt like we were old friends. For me, not only was it fun to explore a hobby I love with other like-minded people, it was also fascinating getting to know those from other cultures. I learned so much about Argentina, England, and Luxembourg. We laughed and traded stories about our own cultures. I was personally floored by Philippe's command of five or six languages (I've lost count), while similarly intrigued by Emma's story of what it was like to move from the UK to a place like Buenos Aires, especially for six years.
All in all, I would highly recommend going on one of these photo tours. Even if you think you won't learn that much in terms of photo tips (and you might not, because it's pretty basic), having a personal guide and local friend take you to all the best places in the city to shoot is priceless.
This is not sponsored. I paid in full for this tour. They have no idea I'm going to write this post. I just really, really liked it and wanted to let you guys know about it. :)