Street Photography in Central America: The story so far

“You can’t walk around here with your camera. It will get stolen or you will get attacked”

In your day to day street photography process you can become accustomed to your surroundings. You learn the back streets, the hot spots, the mentality of the local people. The way you work almost becomes second nature as you waltz through the towns and cities getting your shots. Then one day you end up somewhere completely different. Somewhere thousands of miles away from the place you call home. Then it is a whole different ball game.

I have been in Central America for three and half weeks, in which time I have moved through 3 different countries; Mexico, Belize and now Guatemala.

The first thing that struck me was consistency in the light each day. Back home in England, almost every day is different, with the light constantly changing throughout the day. In Central America I have been able to play with some beautiful light, allowing me to be creative with the highlights and shadows - something which is a luxury back home.

Tulum, Mexico

Tulum offers some amazing vibrance through its streets. Providing you with a somewhat rustic vibe, it was the perfect place to get out and shoot, especially in the golden hour. The locals seemed approachable, and did not seem to care too much about me putting my camera into their face. The town is very small so you will see much of the same each time you shoot. However, this can be great for getting your mind thinking and working towards looking at your frame more deeply.

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Caye Caulker, Belize

Caye Caulker is not like any other place I have visited before. A tiny island with sandy roads and an array of colourful cabin like architecture, it was an extremely refreshing place to shoot. Caye Caulker, is known for its beautiful waters, so naturally there was plenty of action down on the sea front. The whole island felt like it is was always in party mode. Everyone is relaxed and carrying a smile on their face. It was absolutely an enjoyable location to shoot, and probably the place where I have got my shot of the trip so far. You can also read - 5 reasons why Caye Caulker is unbelizable.

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San Ignacio, Belize

San Ignacio was the first town where I felt an element of hesitation when going out to do some street photography. The people were far more withdrawn than what I had previously experienced in Caye Caulker, and it seemed to put a barrier in front of my creative enthusiasm. As someone who tends not to walk away from a challenge, I pushed myself out of the front door and set out to get some shots. Within ten minutes of walking I was met by a woman and her car horn, asking me to pull over to the side. She was extremely friendly but assertively told me “You can’t walk around here with your camera. It will get stolen and you may get attacked”. With this warning, I decided to put my camera in my bag and I headed back to my accommodation. I was only in the town for 48 hours so missing out was not too much of a concern.

Livingston, Guatemala

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Livingston is a small town on the east coast of Guatemala. Once you arrive it is clear you a firmly in the developing world. Young children working jobs, homes that are made out of wood that have broken down of the years and the many street sellers desperate to make any money they can. It is easy to feel an obligation to document this, however it is a story many have told before. Whilst I felt I had to be extra vigilant with my camera, I did feel comfortable to walk around for an hour and do some work. Nobody threatened me and the local people were generally warm in personality.

Antigua, Guatemala

I arrived in Antigua having spending 48 hours in the Guatemalan jungle. Antigua is a former Spanish colonial town and poverty certainly does not feel present. It was such a shock to the system after spending the past week in places where poverty really hit you in the face - hard. I honestly felt like I was in Europe, and felt my most comfortable here when shooting. It was overcast most of the day, not the greatest light to work in. However, there is plenty of personality and architecture for you to be able to get some good frames.

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I can honestly say I am loving shooting out here. The new destination, the different culture and the sense of vulnerability have given me fresh eyes and an injection of enthusiasm to shoot. I’m still to visit El Salvador, Nicaragua, Honduras, Costa Rica and Panama - so there will be plenty more updates to follow!

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