Tuesday, 16 November 2010

Iquitos, Peru- Short Film

After arriving back from i attended a 3 day workshop with Platform 2 and decided to set about presenting my photographs and finding a way to show people some of the terrible issues i had been faced with.

I decided to make a Short Film using stills which could be posted to you tube and seen by the general public, i would advertise this on facebook and through Christian Aid and hope that i could show people the poverty and sadness that i had seen.

Whilst at the workshop i started making my movie, and realised this completely tied in with the Photojournalism brief, so i have kept this in mind when producing the video and think it adds to the brief in offering some more back ground information. Although my final Photo Story is on a different topic, this video shows another story and shown in a way that the general public will find it easy to understand.

I needed more information so i could produce my film with the most accurate facts and information as possible, so researched the issues facing the people of Belen which is the Market town in Iquitos, Peru. I had already done my own research by asking local people whilst i visited the town but thought it would be more accurate to back this up further.

I found this video on you tube really interesting as it discussed all of the issues i had come across and showed a programme that was being used to help combat the struggles of these people. The main issues were:

-A huge problem with violence because it is such a poor area
-Malnourished children feeding from waste and catching deseases
-No jobs or healthcare
-Child Sex slaves very common in Iquitos
-Child Abuse

My video is shown below, although the link further down the page takes you to facebook for a higher quality.

This Video can be seen in higher quality at

Sunday, 31 October 2010

Friday, 22 October 2010

The People of Belen Market

One idea that i want to explore is to show the Photo Essay for this brief on the people i photographed in Belen Market in Iquitos.

This was not only the place that affected me most and compelled me to photograph everything, but where i felt most empathy for the people and their situation. Its impossible to compare the different levels of poverty i experienced in Peru, but there was something so significant about the people here and i produced some of my best photography in the short time i was there.

Tuesday, 19 October 2010


The Brief

Before leaving for Summer we were advised that we would have a Photojournalism brief when we started the new year. Richard asked that we read magazines and books and in general tried to prepare ourselves for the new brief.

Luckily for me, Documentary and Photojournalism is the area of Photography that i am most passionate about, i had already been reading BJP and Foto 8 and was also reading Don Mcullin's autobiography for the 2nd time as he is one of my favourite photographers.

I knew that with me travelling to Peru for three months in summer, this would give me the perfect oppertunity to get some photographs that i could use for the brief, so tried to cover as many different aspects of life in Peru as i could, and conducted interviews and did further research in addition to this to help me build a picture story for each occasion.

 The dilemma for me, was that i have over 3000 images and have covered so many issues that i didnt know where to start.

We had to show our Pecha Kucha to the class this week so i edited some of my work and chose my favourite 20 out of them- although they didn't form a particularly obvious picture story this was more a case of me showing my work than anything. This has given me a starting point for putting my final images together.

Here are the images i chose:

I noticed that i have quite a few photos of people sleeping, although not all of them are shown here, and after a discussion with Richard i plan to research photography and sleep further.

This woman was lied asleep on what i assume was her market stall in the bustling and ancient Belen Market. This market hasn't changed much through the years and still holds much history and the most quaint and fascinating stalls i have ever seen, from jungle medicines to animals skulls and snake skin, you could find anything on this market, especially things considered to be quite magical. Despite it being an 'Aladdins Cave' it was also home to some of the worst poverty i had seen in Peru, it was a very poor area and many of the market sellers lived on the market, starting as early as 4am to prepare their goods and set up the stalls. When i visited the market it was around 3pm in the afternoon and it had very much wound down hence the people sleeping on the stalls when everything was sold. There were still hundreds of stalls with plenty to buy but many of the sellers were eating lunch or sleeping by this point. It shocked me that they could eat and sleep in these conditions, there were dead animals in the street as i walked through, complete with vultures ripping apart their flesh and the most pungent smell of what i can only assume was meat or rotting flesh, it is unthinkable that people could live in these conditions day in, day out yet still seem unphased by it.

The 'typical' Peruvian working class people, always sporting miserable expressions, despite the fact that they are rich compared to their neighbors in the shanty towns.

A rareity.This little girl was smiling out of a car window whilst we were stuck in traffic and i had my camera in my hand photographing other things, i saw her and then stopped as my 'english' upbringing makes me cautious when photographing children. But as i hesitated the mother smiled at me and lifted her up closer to the window giving me reassurance that she wanted me to take a photo, this isnt about the photograph itself but more about the opposite attitudes of peruvian parents compared with parents in England. Peru could be said to be living in the past for so many reasons- this is one reason but in this case i think living in the past could be a good thing compared to our over-obsessive suspicious english view on photographing children.

Another woman sleeps in the market outside her shop

This lady didnt want me to take her photograph so put her head down, but i really like the result.

A traditional Jungle home in Iquitos.

This very special lady was sat across the road when i was out one day, i had paid a taxi driver to take me out to take some photographs as it was so dangerous to walk around with my camera and i saw her and asked him to stop the car. I crossed the road and actioned with my camera to ask for her permission to take a photograph, she smiled and nodded at me. I took a few photographs because i was really excited by her look and wanted to make sure i could get the perfect shot. This is one of 5 i edited.

A little child trapped- 'behind bars' in the village i lived in. When i walked past each day he was always there.

We were strongly advised not to photograph the police or soldiers whilst in Peru, but as usual i didnt listen and took the Photograph anyway with my excuse to my supervisor being that if you dont take risks you get no where in life, he didnt seem to impressed!

This photograph to me, reminds me of a particular issue, rather than what the photograph depicts. The man seemed to have some kind of special need or autism from watching him walk along, picking up bits of food off the floor. The men sat nearby playing cards on the street were laughing at him which i found really sad.

For me this highlighted the lack of education about special needs and learning difficulties; i had been to a special needs school and learned there that this was a little known subject in Peru.

This photograph is one i hold close to my heart. The man got onto the tiny combi bus i was on, and started to sob, no one reacted at all and left him to wallow in his own misery. My friend got up and gave him tissues as and attempt of affection and we had tears in our eyes seeing this personal display of emotion. I fought with my conscience for several minutes before photographing the man, the last thing i wanted was for him to see me, as he clearly had enough to worry about other than me with a camera in his face! So i used my zoom so that i could photograph from the back of the bus, using my coat as cover for my camera i took a few careful shots until i got the one i was happy with, all the while with butterflies in my stomach because i was so anxious to properly record what i was seeing. I wanted a photograph that would compell people to feel for him and his situation, which was almost certainly poverty, although may not have been the reason he was crying.

This little girl had been on the street with her mum earlier in the day, dancing for money and carrying bottles of water up and down for her mum. She was in a nearby cafe eating a plate of rice when i took this photograph.

A man was peering through the window in the cafe whilst we were eating, then when i raised my camera he would hide behind the shutter then move back into view again as if he was teasing me, he continued to do this  for so long that i managed to catch his face in the window.

A little girl i photographed in the Jungle, she was part of the Bora tribe who we visited and she was selling handmade jewellery that the tribe had made, this was their only source of income. They spoke very little spanish as they spoke a rare jungle dialect of the area.

After showing my presentation i received some positive feedback and developed a better idea of what i needed to do for the brief. From speaking to Richard i also decided that i definitely want to do an exhibition of my work. More information on this will be continued in my Work Based Learning posts.....

Friday, 16 July 2010

Work Based Learning- Peru

10 Weeks volunteering in a developing country....

I have always wanted to volunteer in a poor country, but thought this was something only rich people could do, as it can cost around £3000 and more.

I got thinking about this and wondered if there was some kind of funded placements available, after all i would be working for free and losing the regular wage from work by doing it.

I found a company called Platform 2 who to my amazement were currently interviewing people aged 18-24 for the chance to live and work in either South Africa, India or Peru for 10 weeks, part of the rules stated that you could not do this with a friend- so it would be something i would have to do alone.

See link to Platform 2 website: http://www.myplatform2.com/

I filled in the comprehensive application form and waited for a response, after a few weeks i was told i had been shortlisted for an interview the following week- i couldn't sleep i was that nervous, it hit me how much this would mean to me if i was offered a place.

The interview at the Christian Aid office in Manchester was very informal and seemed to go ok, i recieved a phone call a month later after many sleepless nights and got the life changing news that i would be going on the next departure at the beginning of August, they couldn't tell me where i was going at the time but emailed me a few weeks ago to tell me i am going to Peru!

I was given a lengthy email detailing all of my trip and where i would be working and living, i would be travelling with approximately 12 other volunteers.

Following this i had to have 10 vaccinations including Hepititis A and B which really hurt my arms and consisted of 4 seperate injections!

I attended a training day in Leeds where they explained that whilst the trip itself is very important, it is what we do when we get back that is the main thing. They wanted us to use art to record our journey- it was up to us how we did this. When we get back we will use Photos, Videos and Poetry to try and tell people about our experience. I mentioned i would like to do an exhibition and was told that they would help me both with the funding and the advertising- this seemed too good to be true!

I am learning Spanish at the moment as i will be living with a local family who dont speak much english, so need to be able to communicate. I have decided to try to learn the basics for now and as i will have Spanish lessons when i get there, i can gain a more in depth knowledge there- i will after all have 10 whole weeks to practice it!

Hola- Hello
Gracias- Thank You
Adios- Bye
Perdon- Excuse me/Sorry
No Entiendo- I dont understand
Si- Yes
Soy- I am
Amigo/Amiga- Friend(Male&female)
Quien- Who
Vale- Ok
De Nada- Your Welcome
Aqui- Here
La Calle- The street
La Puerta- Door/gate
Hasta Luego- See you later
Un Agua- Water
Por Favour- Please
Un Regalo- A gift
Tengo Hambre- I am hungry
Refesco- Soft drink

The hardest part about learning a new language is knowing how to pronounce the words as they dont sound as they are written, so i have spent many hours on the internet listening to how they sound so hopefully people will understand me.

I decided to look up some videos from the other volunteers who have been before and get a glimpse of Peru, here are two that i found:

This one shows the group arriving in Lima the Capital City then travelling through to the shanty areas- where i would be living. When i saw the shanty town i had butterflies in my stomach, it reminded me of the slums in Mumbai and i knew there would be amazing Photo oppertunities- as bad as that may sound!


This one shows one of the past volunteer's slide show of some of her photos from the trip, it brought a tear to my eye, but partly because of the music and this got me thinking about how i could use my work to have an impact when i return.


I also found groups on Facebook that have been created for past and future volunteers and found a photo of Las Flores which is where i will be living in Peru:

Taken from Platform 2- Peru (Facebook)

Seeing a photo of where i will be living makes it seem so real. To be able to do something like this has seemed like a dream for so long that i couldnt quite believe it.

Although the programme will benefit both my photography and the people in Peru, it is going to be a very difficult thing for me to do and a huge personal challenge to spend 10 weeks in very basic conditions with people i dont know. It is 2 weeks until i go to the hotel in Heathrow to meet the other volunteers and then fly together at 7am on 5th August and i am beyond nervous at the moment. I plan to keep a diary of my experiences which will be used along side my work and i will make it available to people to read- i hope that it will help build a picture of the experience i had there.

Making A Difference

I had previously planned to just use Photography but seeing the efforts of the other volunteers made me think there is so much more i can do. I have now purchased another camera which i will use to film parts of my experience in addition to using my SLR in a photojournalistic sense.

I had to make sure i had an idea of what i wanted to do so that i could get enough material whilst i was there, so my aim: to shoot for England (well, Peru) and get as much footage as i could fit on my Hard Drive!

Spreading the word...

The main idea of Platform 2 is for us to learn about the issues in developing countries, so many people are ignorant to the real reasons behind poverty and it would be up to us to share what we learned and try to make a difference, however small.

I thought that contacting my local newspaper the Rossendale Freepress would be a good idea, both for publicity for Platform 2 and for myself. I asked them if they would be interested in covering my story before and after i go to Peru. They were very interested and went over the story there and then, and sent a photographer round a few hours later- which wasn't the most comfortable experience given that im used to being behind the camera!

I also came accross this competition by the world photography organisation which seems perfect for my trip, they want people to enter images from the following 5 categories relating to one of the five fundamental rights of a child:

-The Right to Healthcare

-The Right to an Education

-The Right to a Voice

-The Right to a Childhood

-The Right to be Treated Fairly

I am fairly confident that i can produce images that tell a story and relate to at least one of the above, and as competitions are a good way to get free publicity it would be good for myself and support the cause and people of Peru.

The link to this competition is: http://www.worldphoto.org/competitions/the-2010-focus-programme-a-photo-pledge-for-childrens-rights/

The closing date is 20th November 2010- i will show my entry further on in this post when i return from Peru and edit the image for the competition.


I have now entered the competition with these two images:

The Right to a Voice

The Right to a Childhood

Research Project

The most important thing i had to do before my trip was the Global Research Project. The purpose of this was to learn about the global issues affecting our destination country.

We had to chose from the following to base our project around:

Personally i have an interest in Conflict Photography and this has fed my passion to learn more about the causes of war and political unrest, so this is what i have chosen to research.

I will be producing a presentation on this which we are all asked to share with the other volunteers whilst we are in country, to learn from each other and discuss how we can help.


Conflict in Peru- A Brief History

I decided to start with Wikepedia first, although it isnt very reliable, it offers a starting point for my research.

According to Wikepedia.....

"It has been estimated that nearly 70,000 people died in the internal conflict in Peru that started in 1980 and, although still ongoing, had greatly wound down by 2000. The principal actors in the war were the Shining Path (Sendero Luminoso), the Túpac Amaru Revolutionary Movement and the government of Peru.

A great many of the victims of the conflict were ordinary civilians. All of the armed actors in the war deliberately targeted and killed civilians, making the conflict more bloody than any other war in Peruvian history."

The Shining Path movement are still ongoing although weakened.

It all begain in 1980 when Peru's government allowed elections for the first time in 12 years and it was then that the Shining Path movement declined to take part and launched a Guerrilla war against the state of Peru. (Guerrilla warfare is irregular warfare or conflict where a small group use military tactics such as ambushes and raids to attack a larger and less mobile traditional army). The word Guerrilla is the diminutive of the Spanish word guerra "war", literally "little war".

The war was launched in the highlands of the province of Ayacucho.

On May 17, 1980, the eve of the presidential elections, it burned ballot boxes in the town of Chuschi, Ayacucho. It was the first "act of war" by Shining Path. Nonetheless, the perpetrators were quickly caught, additional ballots were brought in to replace the burned ballots, the elections proceeded without further incident, and the act received very little attention in the Peruvian press.

Shining Path opted to fight their war in the style taught by Mao Zedong. They would open up "guerrilla zones" in which their guerrillas could operate, drive government forces out of these zones to create "liberated zones", then use these zones to support new guerrilla zones until the entire country was essentially one big "liberated zone." Shining Path also adhered to Mao's teaching that guerrilla war should be fought primarily in the countryside and gradually choke off the cities.

On December 3, 1982, the Shining Path officially formed the "People's Guerrilla Army", its armed wing.

More Recently...

In more recent times there are many things contributing to the conflict and unrest in Peru, some are:

Cocaine Trade

More recently it is believed that the war has come to an end, although after reading the below article it leads me to believe that conflict in Peru is far from over:


The article details the presence of the Shining Path in the mainland of Peru, despite some of the locals saying that they are pleasant, this comes with the threat of violence and the understanding that the Uncles (as they are more locally known) are in control.

Some people say that its not an issue that there are a few hundred Guerrillas in the Jungle, but when we are reminded that it was a few hundred back in 1980 that started the warfare which lead to 70,000 being killed, maybe its more of an issue than some want to believe.

About 97% of the Coca harvested in this area is used to produce Cocaine.

A big issue fuelling the conflict is the cocaine trade, the violence by the Shining Path is intensifying as they go against the Peruvian Army in a bid to try and retain control over part of Peru's Cocaine trade.


As large oil companies plan to take over large areas of the Rainforest, violent protests have ended in large numbers dead, despite the lack of press coverage.

I found an interesting video covering this story which offers a good insight into the struggle for the Peruvians, even their own government are siding with the foreign oil companies who are offering them no compensation for taking over the land that they live from.

Here is the speech i wrote for my presentation:


Research Project
Conflict in Peru

I decided to research Conflict because I am a Photography student influenced mainly by Photojournalism around the world and especially war and conflict photography.
Conflict can be partly caused by poverty but can also thrive in areas of poverty, so to understand and help the people of Peru it is important to look at the areas of conflict and unrest and understand why this is happening.

There have been several wars in the history of Peru but the most notable and recent was the conflicts lead by the Shining Path from the 1980’s.

The shining path fought a Guerilla war, primarily in the countryside, gradually smothering the cities, Guerilla warfare involved having “Guerilla zones” in which they could operate and drive government forces out to create “liberated zones” until they had gradually liberated the whole area.

The Shining Path, the Tupac Amaru Revolutionary Movement and Peru’s Government were the main contributors to the conflict; killing innocent civilian’s and rendering this the most bloody war in Peruvian history.

An estimated 70,000 people died in the conflicts that began in 1980, although this war had mainly ceased by 2000 it is believed that it is still ongoing today.

Although weakened the Shining Path still exist today and according to an article in the New York Times they are beginning to rebuild from the profits of Peru’s cocaine trade after they have re-invented themselves as an illicit drug enterprise.
The front line is in the Jungle of Vizcatan a region in Apurímac and Ene River Valley and the largest grower of Coca in Peru- the raw material for Cocaine.

In 1997 Peru’s Cocaine production was estimated at 290 tons- second behind Columbia.
The government have made attempts to stop the Shining path and regain full control but the large rainforest has so far provided ample cover and safety for them to simply move around upon threat of attack; making them hard to track down. The killings hit a high last August when the government launched its campaign resulting in at least 26 dead.

2 Children are missing from the far flung village of Rio Seco and there are claims that soldiers killed at least 5 civilians in addition to the dozens of families that have fled the villages to escape the violence.
Despite this some local Coca farmers have described the Shining Path as disciplined, well-armed force entering villages in crisp black uniforms and the rebels themselves say that they no longer assassinate local officials or plant bombs on donkeys in crowded markets, something they were famous for in the 80’s.

The relationship between the old Shining Path and the reinvented group that exist today is quite different. The villagers refer to them as Los Tios meaning the Uncles although this is enforced by the threat of violence rather than any kind of respect.

One woman said “we can live in peace..... as long as we obey the uncles”

Perhaps the most worrying aspect, is that with the Cocaine industry thriving, the rebels may continue to grow and become increasingly powerful.

Friday, 11 June 2010

Primary Research

I decided to make a start on making preparations to obtain primary research for the assignment, so used my guidance list as a starting point to begin contacting people.

My first call was to IWMN (Imperial War Museum North) where i called and asked to speak to Hilary- the head of the photographic archives, after gaining this contact from a talk i went to on Conflict and the Camera.
I was then directed to another department to be informed that she was based in London and given her contact number and the details of a man named Alan Wakefield.

I called and spoke to Mr Wakefield who was very helpful and more than happy for me to go and see him, he explained that the majority of the archives were held in London so there would be very little to see in Manchester. I advised him that i would like someone to show me around and explain how the archives work and suggested i spent the day there. I have arranged to go to meet him on July 9th at 11am.

As i am travelling to London i thought it would make sense to try and fit in some other visits whilst i was there, so i thought of spending a day at 8 Magazine.

As i read this magazine and find it both interesting and appropriate for my interests and this assignment, i think it would be very worthwhile to spend some time learning more behind the scenes of the printed magazine.

I found the contact details for them:

Unfortunately i had to cancel going to the Imperial War Museum as i had no time before leaving for Peru, and Foto 8 despite constant contact never got back to me about going to see them.

My essay topic has changed slightly now and is more specific to Ethics in Photojournalism so the two may not have been that helpful anyway.

Professional Practice

For the work based learning unit we are required to gain experience in our chosen field in a professional working environment. This includes paid work undertaken independantely, here i will show some examples of the work i have done of this nature.

Recently i have set up a business page on facebook as its free advertising to try to get my work known more in my local area, leading to enquiries and bookings and a reasonable second income.

Firstly i did a portrait day in the studio-offering portraits for families, couples, children, babies and individuals. As i am new to this i decided to charge a fee of £30 for a 45 minute photoshoot and the images on a disk- this was cheap enough to get the interest of the customers and hopefully lead to recommendations from them when friends and family saw the images. I would put my prices up in time when i become more established and have a more professional image (by having business cards and a website etc)

I asked a good friend to help me after anticipating that with so many small children this may not be easy! Although i have photographed small children before i must have been lucky so far, as nothing could have prepared me for the constant crying, screaming, running away and doing anything but standing in front of the camera. It made a big difference that i had Steph there helping me, as she was more than happy to sing to the children, blow bubbles, clap or whatever made them smile and stay still. I think before this i assumed that the parents would be able to do this, but this wasnt always the case. I soon learnt that bubbles for any child under 3- were like gold dust, so have now purchased a battery operated bubble machine.

I also found it quite difficult at first to direct people and make them feel comfortable but this is something that i noticed an improvement on as the day went on. Apart from the obvious difficulties of working with children the day went quite smoothly.

I photographed 5 sets of people for a total fee of £150, not bad for my first effort.

Here are some of the edited images from the shoots i did:

Carrie, Marc and Freya

F11, 1/125 Sec, ISO 100

F11, 1/125 Sec, ISO 100

F11, 1/125 Sec, ISO 100

F11, 1/125 Sec, ISO 100
F11, 1/125 Sec, ISO 100

Below is one of the model release forms i used, i asked each client to fill one in and one for each child was also completed. I explained to them that this was to cover myself in a legal sense and that they should read all of the form then sign. I also mentioned that my images would be used on my website, portfolio and facebook business page- no one had any issues with this.

Anna, Den and Austin

F8, 1/125 Sec, ISO 100
F8, 1/125 Sec, ISO 100

F8, 1/125 Sec, ISO 100

F8, 1/125 Sec, ISO 100

F8, 1/125 Sec, ISO 100

F8, 1/125 Sec, ISO 100

F8, 1/125 Sec, ISO 100