Bolivia's Major English Language Publication

Issue 46


Editorial by Alexandra Meleán Anzoleaga

Canon or Nikon? Flashback to 1990. Witness the rise of the digital SLR. The mainstream recording medium and consequently, the photographic process, transforms. Analog photographers trade photographic chemicals for memory cards, negative records for hard drives and the darkroom for Adobe Photoshop. Enter the digital age. Photography is now as easy as 1-2-3; watch a YouTube tutorial, make a Flickr account, and design a flashy watermark. Social media and photo-sharing networks, Facebook and Instagram, make it possible for everybody with a cell phone camera to become a photographer. Android, or iPhone? ... Stop.

ISO, shutter speed, and F/STOP.

REWIND. “Shoot in manual,” says Michael Dunn, Bolivian Express Head of Photography.

From the Sin Motivo Photography studio in downtown Sopocachi, you borrow Sara Juana, a Canon Rebel XTI, named after a pistol- carrying, cartoon horse, emphasizing her shooting capacity. Through a lens, you observe photogenic La Paz, curiously looking for the decisive moment coined by Henri Cartier-Bresson, father of photojournalism. You walk from Avenida 20 de Octubre to Calle Jaen, climbing a cobblestone street at a 45 degree angle. Breathlessly, you admire el Illimani. Hooked, you buy your first DSLR from Calle Eloy Salmón, an electronic goods street market: the paceño When the lens cracks, you are gifted a vintage 1960's Asahi Pentax Spotmatic from the camera repairman on Av. 20 de Octubre. After a few hours in the darkroom, you develop two black and white Kodak TRI-X 400 films and make contact sheets. You frown at an overexposed print left in the developer too longer and mutter, “this is part of the process,” before you do it again.

In this issue, the Bolivian Express looks beyond the tacky watermarks to discover Bolivian professional photographer Juan Estellano developing film and making prints in L’obscurita from the perspective of Bolivian journalist Alex Ayala. Bolivian Express photojournalist intern Vicky Roberts explores the contrast between diverse Bolivian landscapes in her first photo essay. Bolivian journalist Adriana Murillo investigates the history of photography in Bolivia, from analog to digital, finding the value of photographic archives. Bolivian professional photographer Alejandro Loayza critically examines the sustainability of Bolivian city landscapes during an age of visual contamination. Bolivian professional filmmaking-photography collective, Sin Motivo, shares how a collaborative space for creative audiovisual artists and photographers was formed. Bolivian Express photojournalist intern Sophia Vahdati interviews professional Bolivian photographer Alvaro Gumucio Li, aka ‘Gumo’. Photojournalist Johnathon Mccarthy documents the rural, artisan weaving women of Huarancani. Featured photo essays include the work of professional Bolivian photographers Michael Dunn and Carlos Sanchez Navas.

Inevitably, any photo issue will invariably only be able to cover a limited selection of what it means to be a photographer in Bolivia. So of course, this will have to be the first of several future editions exploring this neverending world of pixels, celluloid, silver nitrate, shutters and broken lenses.


Articles from the latest issue of Bolivian Express


24 December, 2014, Jonathan Mccarthy

The women from Huancarani have to traverse four hours of mountain to get to Independencia, the nearest town, where you still can't get hold of a refrigerated soft drink. They don't have a Facebook account, they don't use the internet and they're probably better for it. Between two major urban ...


24 December, 2014, Carlos Sanchez Navas

‘You know that Américo came? He's friends with Superman, Wonder Woman, the Fantastic Four and Iron Man . . . . Saxoman and the Casanovas, that’s my boy, brother.’ Forty-three-year old Américo Estevez Román, better known as ‘Saxoman’, is a beaming character from La Paz, Bolivia, who dedicates his life ...


24 December, 2014, Manuel Seoane and Samuel Rendon

Photo: Juan Manuel Lobaton , courtesy of SINMOTIVO PHOTOGRAPHERS Like most good stories, this project began on a night out. Initially, the objective was to share one photographer's perspective with another. The first step towards becoming a collective was the debut of the SinMotivo photography exhibition, showcasing a chorrellana ...


24 December, 2014, Adriana Murillo

‘Bolivia has gone through incredible eras: the War of The Pacific, the Chaco War, and many other dramatic periods. Incredible photographs have been taken of all of these times,’ says Bolivian photographer Moreno Fabbri. ‘You go along putting stories together, perhaps with a certain priority in mind--by date, or by ...


24 December, 2014, Sophia Vahdati

Photo: Daniel Oros Alvaro Gumucio Li (Aka Gumo), a born and bred cochabambino, started his professional career as a photographer four years ago. He studied at the Instituto Eduarlo Lareda in Cochabamba where he was surrounded by different artistic disciplines. His father’s friend, Eduardo Ruiz Gumiel, who he met while ...


24 December, 2014, Sophia Vahdati

In 2006, Michael Dunn had left Bolivia and was studying business in New York where he enrolled in a photography course. His life then changed its course as he quit his business career to pursue photography and design. After graduating as a graphic designer with a minor in photography in ...


24 December, 2014, Alejandro Loayza Grisi

Cables, advertisements, meaningless graffiti; posters, billboards and political propaganda: these are only some of the things that mark our urban landscape in La Paz. Practically every wall or street that you position in front of the camera is overpopulated, overwrought with elements that an artistic director would hardly place within ...


24 December, 2014, Vicky Roberts

The contrast between movement and stillness When Bolivia comes to life, it sparkles… For myself and many, one of the most fascinating things about Bolivia is the juxtaposition of tremendous natural beauty with the chaotic culture that manifests itself in everyday life. From a photographic perspective, capturing the contrasts that ...


24 December, 2014, Alex Ayala Ugarte

Photo: Juan Gabriel Estellano The dark room where Juan Gabriel Estellano manually develops some of his photos is much more than a humid and stagnant place where someone could turn out the lights at any given moment. It’s a room - in the courtyard of a creaking mansion - with ...