The lead snap above was taken this past Sunday on Carrera 7, or Septima, in central Bogota. This section of the street, open to pedestrians only, is always busy, but especially so on Sundays when the sidewalks are overflowing with commerce.
Just a few minutes earlier I saw the man to the left wake up from an afternoon snooze on the sidewalk across the street, and watched him as he dizzily made his way across to that perch where he positioned himself for several more minutes. I liked the contrast between his motionless figure and the activity that surrounded him. I made a few quick exposure adjustments to try to slow down the scene and snapped a handful of shots. Without even immediately looking at it, I was happy with the composition.
Until I came home and took a closer and somewhat more dispassionate look.
Visually there’s a lot going on, some of it even interesting. But it falls short in telling a story, let alone the story, behind the scene. Shortcomings aside, it’s still a moment I want to remember and share. Or, at least file somewhere besides the two external hard drives that accompany me at all times, so I can quickly return to that moment whenever the need or the mood strikes.
In my world, a least a portion of every day is a photo walk. That’s especially been the case since my current jaunt through South America began in Quito in late February and continues as my time in Bogota enters its final two weeks. And, an almost-daily chore that I’m sure will continue when I’m back in Ljubljana for most of at least the next year discovering the new and rediscovering the old.
Unless I’m pursuing a story, most of the time these strolls have no agenda, no check list. They’re just an exercise, both physical and mental, to keep me thinking photographically, to keep my senses sharp, and to document what I see the best I can. As for output, some strolls are more productive than others and oftentimes I dump the bulk of the shots I snap. But in too many cases, those I keep wind up sitting in folders on those external hard drives and not looked at again for months. In some cases even years. (At least I’ve gotten pretty good about making multiple back-ups.)
So with this public self-afflicted kick in the ass, I decided that’s going to change today. I’m not promising daily galleries, but will be aiming to post at least three or four per week separate from the specific stock and editorial galleries and the occasional documentary project published here. They’ll include a handful of shots taken on a single day, images that I decide don’t quite fit somewhere else but shouldn’t necessarily be tossed away either. Basically, just some more notebook entries.
So with that long-winded and wholly unnecessary introduction, here’s a small sampling of images taken a few days ago, on Sunday August 2, in Bogota’s Candelaria, Santa Fe and Teusaquillo barrios.
There are many people out and about in the Colombian capital on Sundays and quite a few of those are on bikes. Each Sunday some 120 kilometers of streets are transformed into car-free zones between 7am and 2pm for Bogota’s Ciclovia, a concept born in 1974. The idea was the first of its kind on the planet and has since spread to dozens of countries. Here’s a map of its 2015 route.
I was mostly drawn to the streetside commerce. There are thousands of street vendors in Bogota who set up shop on thousands of the city’s sidewalks every day to sell just about anything and everything. Sundays are particularly busy and colorful. Many have very modest offerings like this gentleman below, standing next to his small selection of shoes, a pair of jeans, a few hats, a pair of boots and a small pile of mobile phone chargers. Every now and then someone stopped to look and all were met with a modest and sincere smile.
In contrast, some streets that are bustling during the week can be all but empty early on a Sunday afternoon, where a shoe shiner has just a beautifully painted wall for company.
Street Vendor, Carrera 7, Santa Fe.
Shoe shiner, Avenida Carrera 14, Teusaquillo
Extra crispy. Fast Food Restaurant on Calle 19 between Carreras 8 and 9, Santa Fe
Book vendor, Carrera 7, Barrio Santa Fe
Centro Internacional, Santa Fe
Calle 19 near Carrera 7, Barrio Santa Fe
Bob, Slash & My First Million. Carrera 7, Candelaria.
Around the corner from my apartment, Carrera 16A, Barrio Teusaquillo
Near the Centro Internacional.