Traveling across the Altiplano has been a humbling experience. With limited road networks, if that is what you call them and accommodation, albeit the best in the area, being far from western expectations. The people we met have nothing, ( once again judged by our own standards) but were willing to share so much and for their simple lifestyle everybody seemed happy. The country could and should be financially well off with huge deposits of minerals and the potential for tourism to flourish, but due to widespread corruption and dodgy politics what ever wealth there may be is not being reinvested back into the communities. This along with the altitude, below freezing temperatures and a dry harsh climate would make living here an enormous struggle for the most of us.
The landscape is tough to work on and with. Dusty, bare and barren, littered with rocks from past volcanic eruptions, every hill is a volcano and the sense of impending doom is always on the horizon. The big one is overdue as Alvaro the guide would say. An ever-present headache as the altitude (from 3500 mts to just above 5000 mts), makes itself known and the fine dust working its way into every corner of my camera equipment, started to cause problems. All this though is forgotten twice a day as the light is just magical. A fleeting 20 minutes before sunrise and after sunset is all you are given to shoot in, before everything becomes bleached by the harsh sun. The beautiful light is when the sun is below the horizon, the bands of pinks, blues and violets rise into the sky and the ground seems to pop with colour when the contrast is at it's lowest. Shooting in a cloudless sky was something I always seemed to try to avoid at all cost but Bolivia has shown me that opportunities can be found. Many shots were missed though, due to a lack of knowledge and experience of the area and the fact you just can't be everywhere at the same time. One, two or even three visits is just not enough. To get something out of this landscape a connection needs to be made, and this takes an enormous investment in time and effort.
On returning and reviewing the images I made, it has become clear that a simple view of this landscape has emerged. The light and tone are the subjects more than the landscape itself. A minimalist outlook which I feel is a direction I would like photography to take me. Removing as much from the scene as possible is incredibly hard to do. The pictures almost feel naked and with a sense of hanging your self out to dry. For me it's showing what I have left and the confidence in doing so.
The new site I hope will reflect this. Clean uncluttered galleries, pages and images that work together as a collection and not just stand alone, or at least with the newer stuff anyway.
Click on the image below to see a small part of what Bolivia's Altiplano has to offer the photographer.