Faces of the Andes: A Slideshow

When we browse photos from a faraway place to which we’ve never been, we find that the entire visual panorama — the faces, the clothing, the landscape — looks so similar that it blurs any lines of distinction.

All Dressed Up in Ponchos - Chugchilan, Ecuador
All dressed up. Quilotoa Loop, Ecuador.

When you get up close, though, all the subtle differences have a way of evincing themselves more clearly.

Maybe it’s first-hand experience or familiarity. Regardless, what was once a generalization — a single culture — now becomes an array of competing similarities and differences. This phenomenon plays itself out continually during our travels, with Andean South America (Ecuador, Peru, Bolivia) as no exception.

Frankly, this is where travel becomes really cool. Take the hats, the headwear. Ecuadoran hats are different from Peruvian hats and Bolivian hats. More granular than that, hats differ from one town to another, from one ethnic group to another, through lowland villages and back into iconic Andean mountains. The same goes for weavings, shawls, panchos, and sweaters.

But the clothing is the easy part. The faces — now that’s where it gets a bit tricky, if not infinitely more interesting. All the faces suggest some relation, some inherent similarity, but they are different — like related families, but on a more epic level. Faces that once appeared “the same” now reveal distinct features and expressions.

So what of all this?

We were surprised — pleasantly so — by the diversity of the people, culture and colors we found throughout the Andes. And in celebration of this, we share a photo essay and slideshow entitled The Faces of the Andes. In many cases, these are the people we met, chatted with, interviewed and got a chance to know while we made our way through a region that was once simply “The Andes” to us.

Photo Slideshow: Faces of the Andes

If you don’t have a high speed connection or you would like to read the captions, view the Faces of the Andes photo essay.

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  1. says

    I can’t even guess to whom those beautiful faces belong. Gosh those hats and fashion – we lost so much in my part of the world. Btw, that first photo (well, not only that), is stunning. Those colours come even more to life with the fog in the background!

  2. says

    @Fida: That’s one of the nice features of the Andean region: indigenous communities seemed to have retained (made an effort to retain, in some cases) some of their traditional customs, clothing, markets, etc.
    @Pete: We too. The hats are really great and they really do accentuate the faces of the people who wear them.
    @Keith: Thanks. We were actually quite surprised when we put together this slideshow. These countries don’t qualify as the easiest when it comes to photographing people.
    @Nomadic Chick: We don’t get people to pose. We just take photos of them doing what they normally do. Having said that, we talk to them…a lot. This usually helps establish a relationship and sometimes put them more at ease. In fairness, it also helps that we are two — while one of us can focus on the conversation, the other can focus on the camera. But at the end of it all, it really has to do with the relationship and the interest that you have in that person…as a person. We get this comment/question a lot and we wrote this in response (not sure if you’ve seen it):
    Capturing Humanity: 10 Tips for Great Street and Market Photos
    @Sonya: You are welcome! Glad you enjoyed it.

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