Category Archives: portrait
Dreams are worth chasing.
It was June 2012. I had a dream to travel into the depths of the Amazon and photograph tribes that I’d heard may disappear within my lifetime. If I didn’t follow my dream, perhaps no one would capture images of these people, whose cultures had fascinated me since I was a little girl. Perhaps no one would create a visual memory of their traditional way of life for the future generations to remember and appreciate.
I had no contacts and no leads, but something within me told me I could do it, and that I had to do it. I committed myself to the project and spent the following 2 months exploring the Amazon of Peru in search of tribes to photograph in their traditional dress to create a visual documentation of how life looks, or looked, for peoples whose traditional way of life is being slowly, or in many cases, rapidly forgotten.
I hope to return to the Amazon soon to continue encountering and photographing the vast and diverse tribal cultures that live within the mysterious jungle. This project turned out to be one of the most amazing experiences of my life. Dreams are worth chasing.
Here is a tiny sample of the mountain of photographs I was fortunate to capture during my adventures. I hope you enjoy them. There are more on the way.
Here are the first two behind the scenes videos shot by my assistant/partner James. Check back here for additional videos in the coming months.
This March, James and I met with Cuba’s female surfing population, all two of them.
Lorena is the only female bodyboarder in Cuba and Yaya is the only female stand-up surfer. These passionate women inspired us to write their story about what it’s like to live and surf in a country where educated people live off government rations, surf shops don’t exist and waves go unexplored because people don’t have cars or gas to get to them.
Here’s the article from this months Surfgirl Magazine, available in The UK and Europe.
Photos by Alicia Fox
Words by James Galletly
Cuba may not be well known as an eco-travel destination, but its eco-credentials, like its musicians and cigars, are first class.
In 2006, the WWF’s Living Planet Report named Cuba the only nation on earth achieving sustainable development. This big claim was based on Cubans having a high standard of living (assessed via levels of health, education and GDP) and at the same time maintaining a sustainable Ecological Footprint….
To view more of my published work please go to www.aliciafox.net/published
Cuba Pobre : Poor Cuba
Cubans showed me that in some ways their country is one of the richest places on Earth. The music, the culture and the spirit of the people are so strong. So alive!
But economically, many Cubans are struggling. Even with food rations that the government provides for the population, people are struggling to survive on wages which average just $15 per month.
In March 2012 I shot a photo essay for Newsmax, documenting the poor side of Cuba. Completing this assignment lead me to meet and spend time with some outstandingly wonderful human beings whose spirits actually shone stronger because of their hardships. It lead me into buildings that were literally crumbling where families still lived and into a world where I got a brief sense of what life is like in a city where food is so scarce that a cup of rice or a couple of bananas are hard to come by.
And all these hardships just make Cubans stronger; more unified and more positive. They are people who live for the moment, enjoying life simply because they were lucky enough to be born Cuban!
To see more of my published photos please visit www.aliciafox.net/published/
I am six weeks into my trip to Peru, that’s about half way if James and I follow our loose schedule.
I am so excited about the images I have been capturing here in this vibrant country. Here is a sample of what I have been up to over the last month.
(Above) This is an image I shot on a floating reed island of Lake Titicaca, Peru. The young boy was playing on the other side of the tiny island. I knew this line of reeds would make a beautiful background for a shot and I wanted the little boy to run towards me, so I got into position and set up my camera with a fairly shallow depth of field (f/6.3) and fast shutter speed (1/640sec) to freeze him in motion. I waited a few minutes till he came my way then I made eye contact and got his attention, making him smile. I shot three frames and this is my favourite of the three.
(Above) Visiting Machu Picchu was an INCREDIBLE experience. Even as I was ascending the harsh mountainside to the entrance I could feel that I was arriving to a special place in the world. Exploring the ruins was inspiring, but (as a portrait photographer) I found myself time and time again returning to the only residents of the area – the llamas. I spent a few hours stalking these lovely animals in different parts of the ruins. This one was my favourite because her name is Alicia (her ear tag told me).
The lighting was moody that day – the sun was nearly breaking through the clouds but only in certain areas – leaving the background mountains shaded. I shot with my wide angle lens (at 24mm) to capture a feeling of closeness with Alicia, while still including a wide area of the ruins in the background. With an aperture of f/6.3 the far ruins fell out of focus just enough to make Alicia stand out.
A photo essay of women weavers in Lake Atitlan, Guatemala, shot for Vision Guatemala.
Lake Atitlan is a magical part of Guatemala that draws many tourists who want to experience its reputed energy. But for many women and families living in this area, life is tough and money is very scarce. I shot this photo essay for Vision Guatemala, a small non-profit organisation that is working to help women find a source of income, offering micro-finance, training and community development. In doing so, their tradition of weaving beautiful textiles can be kept alive.
Being fortunate to enter their homes and witness this amazing art gave me a deep appreciation for their skill in weaving. The women I met have amazing talent and beautiful spirits.
This week I have been shooting photos of women weavers in Guatemala, for an organisation called Vision Guatemala, a grass roots NGO that provides micro finance and support to women around Lake Atitlan and Guatemala.
Above: Cecilia is weaving a table runner in the style typical to San Pedro. She spends a few hours weaving each day in between cleaning and making tortillas which she sells to her neighbours at lunch and dinner time. In Guatemala tortillas sell at 3 for Q1, which is about 13 cents. When she finishes weaving after 3-5 days, the table runner will sell for about $4.50.
Camera Settings: 1/50sec, f/4, ISO 400, 28mm lens
Above: The weaving loom, used by Guatemalan women.
Camera Settings(Above): 1/50sec, f/2.8, ISO 800, 50mm lens
Camera Settings(Above): 1/50sec, f/2.8, ISO 400, 50mm lens
Camera Settings(Above): 1/60sec, f/4, ISO 320, 24mm lens, flash (bounced off wall)
Camera Settings (Above): 1/60sec, f/4, ISO 400, 65mm lens
Take a look around my blog to see more of my NGO & Humanitarian photos. I’ll have a new folio on my new website dedicated to the humanitarian projects I’ve been shooting over here in Central and South America.
“You have to ask before you take a photo of anyone here. A Japanese woman didn’t ask and she got stoned to death.”
That was my introduction to Comalapa, a small town, unmarked on the Guatemalan tourist map. I usually ask before I take someones photo, but sometimes that ruins the moment and I (respectfully) want to get a shot before they are aware that I even exist. After the above advice though, I got the feeling that the locals here aren’t really into being the subjects of documentary photography, so I’m going to ask everybodies permission before I take photos of them.
This morning my friend Loren needed to do some washing and asked me if I wanted to go to the public laundry with him. A lot of people around here don’t have the water or facilities to wash clothes in their own home so the women come together and wash communally. It’s such a wonderful and unique cultural experience and I’d been attracted to Guatemala’s outdoor laundries since I first saw them.
I got chatting to this beautiful lady, Chejina (above), while Loren was washing his clothes. Chejina told me she goes there most days to wash. I asked her three times (just to be sure that the question wasn’t getting lost in translation) if it was okay to take her photo. All the ladies around thought it was really funny that I would want to take a photo of their friend washing clothes. I guess they’re right.
This gorgeous little boy has four brothers and sisters. He spends most of his days on his Mums back. She told me that he is very heavy and Thanks to God she is very strong.
Antony Ledezma Mendin
& The Bethlehem Youth Club – A photo shoot for Opportunity Nicaragua
When Antony was eight years old his parents divorced, and his family disintegrated around him. Antony’s mother is Costa Rican, but his farther is Nicaraguan. When the family broke down Antony’s father returned to Nicaragua, forcibly taking Antony with him.
They moved to the Nicaraguan Capital of Managua and shared a house with Antony’s grandmother. Life at home was tough, and the family relationship was strained. Antony rebelled. He fought with his father and grandmother, who also fought with each other. At a young age he began experimenting with drugs, smoking and drinking, by 12 he decided living on the streets was better than at home. He ran away.
Antony lived on the streets with a group of friends. They stuck together and protected each other. To get money they would steel whatever they could, sometimes visiting local farms to rob fruit and then sell it on the street.
As he got older, the group of friends developed into a gang; drugs and gang related violence became part of life. Antony looks back on his past drug use with open honesty, recalling “I was crazy, but I liked it (to feel something different)”. The violence on the street was life threatening. At one point in a street gang related attack Antony’s skull was smashed open with a rock, he spent 15 days in hospital and came dangerously close to death.
His life reached crisis point after the sudden death of one of his close friends and soon after Antony was jailed for armed robbery. He spent two months in jail awaiting sentencing. While in jail, a Christian group visited the inmates. Their message resonated with Antony and when still in prison he accepted Jesus as his saviour. Antony was facing at least 10 years in jail and began to pray to for his freedom.
On the day he was to be sentenced an extraordinary string of events occurred. The official escort to court failed to show up. At the end of the day the police officer in charge did not know what to do. He called Antony inside and, astonishingly, gave him his release papers. The charges were dropped and he was free to go. In that moment Antony felt God had answered his prayers and became a committed Christian.
He was free, but with nowhere to go Antony was back on the streets and in danger of returning to his old ways. In his old neighbourhood he met Doña Suzie, who is part of the Bethlehem Youth Club community. The youth club rescued Antony from the streets. They gave him a place to live, food, clothes and support to turn his life around.
Now, the number one change in Antony’s life is a feeling of security. He no longer has to steal in order to eat or wonder where he is going to sleep. The Bethlehem Youth Club gives him a safe, supportive environment, for him to strengthen his resolve to live a new life.
Antony now dreams of being married and having a family, not such a wild dream. He already has a child on the way with his girlfriend, but is honest when he says he is not prepared for marriage. Antony feels inadequate about not finishing school and not having any job skills. He hopes to earn these and be able to support his own family before he asks his girlfriend to marry him. He also dreams of finding his mother who he has not seen since leaving Costa Rica.
Text by James Galletly, Freelance Travel Writer
Following the devastation in Japan earlier this year, Blue surf magazine (Japan) asked artists to contribute to a special Hope issue, in an effort to lift the spirits of their readers who were affected by the earthquake, tsunami and nuclear disaster.
I feel honored to have a photo of mine included in the Hope issue.
I took this photo during my six month in Japan in 2009. I feel that this beautiful boy, Aki, is perfect representation of the pure and beautiful people that live in Japan. I hope the people of Japan continue to move forward, despite what they have been faced with, and shine as I know they can.
When I first read about the Kuna Yala indigenous people in the San Blas Islands, I knew I had to visit the islands to photograph them. In all descripitions, the people and the landscape sounded visually stunning.
The Kuna women hand-sew their vibrant outfits with tropical patterns and elaborate designs. Their arms and legs are adorned with colourful beads in traditional patterns that imitate designs that used to be painted on their skin before missionaries taught them to wear clothes.
The location they call home is over 300 idyllic islands in the Caribbean Sea of Panama, the most picture perfect place I have visited in my life. Many of the inhabitants are nomadic and move from island to island collecting coconuts and selling their clothing, designs and beaded jewelry to tourists.
Volunteering with Opportunity Nicaragua was an wonderful experience that allowed me a glimpse into the lives of many hardworking artisanas and farmers around Granada, who despite adversity, can go through life with a smile. The experience gave me perspective on how tough life is for so many people throughout the world, and how fortunate I am to live the life I have.
Here are a few of my favorite shots from the experience.
Playa Gigante, Nicaragua
This morning when I was on the front porch three men with very big guns walked past me, trailed by some very excited dogs. They returned this afternoon with a bunch of iguana for dinner, Saturday night special. My little friend took one of the iguanas from her Dad and started parading the catch around the main street (Yes, this is the main street pictured).
I spent a week living in a hotel in the middle of the pulsing heart of Granada – The Market. I would wake up each day at 5:30am (the heat was insane even at that hour), walk out the door and grab some fruit, veges and fresh tortillas for breakfast, each time returning home with almost the same amount of money.
It stinks and its probably a bit dangerous at night, but I definitely recommend staying in the middle of a Central American market if you get the chance. You’ll feel like you are getting to know the real people and the real country, and it’s much easier to photograph at golden hour when you only have to step out the front door.
I bought cheese from these two all the time. It was delicious.