Antique Photographers

19 Jul, 2017 | Fabián Zapata


Photos: Fabián Zapata

Translation: Niall Flynn

Portrait of Gregorio Alcón Beltrán

Gregorio Alcón Beltrán:

An intrepid traveller who spends his day relaxing in the square he has grown fond of and with his old friend, the sun, which has been inspiring his photographs for over half a century. He earns between 10 and 15 bolivianos per customer, offering a portfolio that includes a couple of small portraits he shoots with his old camera.

A master of light. A bronze-skinned gentleman wearing a grey jacket, clean shirt and striking tie. The esteemed 82-year-old photographer spends his afternoon astride a stool, under which he stores his equipment, and alongside his old camera named ‘Mobile machine’. Don Gregorio’s relationship with this square goes back over 50 years. He makes a living off portraits of paceños. He charges between 10 and 12 bolivianos for a set of 2 ID-card photos. After a long conversation swapping tales of our love of photography, discussing lenses and brands, this honourable man tells me about his style of work and how he had to adapt to technology to be able to continue in the field.

It turns out that Don Gregorio was one of the first photographers in Bolivia. He was trained by Marco Kavlin, whose family brought photographic innovation to La Paz. Kodak arrived to Bolivia bringing all the gadgets to teach the art of photography. Don Gregorio was amongst Kodak’s apprentices. But the interesting thing is that rather than the arrival of digital technology, it was counterfeiters’ low prices that put an end to this brand.

This photographer chiefly enjoyed travelling the country in military garrisons. He proudly recalls the good times: ‘I had the opportunity to travel all over Bolivia: Villazón, Tupiza, Los Yungas, Puerto Guaqui, the Chilean border, and many other places. In 5 minutes my photos were developed and ready, no matter where I was. This little box was more than sufficient for development, as well as great camera equipment, different lenses and tubes.’

‘Now I spend my afternoons here in the sun,’ he says, with a serene smile.

Our conversation became more and more enjoyable. He mentioned that the city government is urging them to continue using the cameras of yesteryear to preserve the square’s emblematic heritage, but says that this is no longer sustainable due to the cost of developing photos and the difficulty of sourcing the required materials. First and foremost, Don Gregorio would like to continue working with black and white film reel. But these photographers have had to modernise their methods to make their work profitable. They are artists who have survived the passing of time, but who retain their identity striking an amicable accord with technology. Don Gregorio showed me his new equipment and admitted that he has been using a digital camera for five years.

Image title

He uses a small, simple and discreet PowerShot camera and a printer that is hidden and padlocked under his seat. The brand new digital printer constitutes his entire studio, along with a couple of coloured backdrops.

As we chatted, a client arrived who wished to have her portrait taken. It was then that I witnessed Don Gregorio’s skills. Reading the intensity of the light, he oriented his seat to his subject; a lady in a traditional skirt. The sun is the only flash at his disposal, and I can testify that it is all he needs.

Don Gregorio is a member of a trade union made up of 600 independent photographers, and he lives entirely off this business, but says that it is no longer profitable. ‘Some young people come, but they quickly disappear because they say that they are not earning money. But I don’t have that option. I have been here for over 50 years. Photography is all I know. I’ve had a studio, I’ve taken portraits on my travels and I’ve been set up here for several years now,’ says the man who has seen the growth of this square, formerly known as Churubamba.

Many people seek him out because he is a well-known character. His most loyal and longstanding clients come to him today for portraits of their grandchildren. He is also sought by journalists and curious tourists who offer to buy his camera. He even appeared on television demonstrating his photo development techniques, and he has taught friends with an interest in photography.

These quirky figures who sit by their wooden tripods are greatly revered by society for capturing part of Bolivia’s history through their lenses; recognised for their modest but impeccable work that is capable of intimidating any professional studio.

I have now made a commitment to Don Gregorio. He promised to teach me his development techniques if I provide him with black and white film reel. Although many of his negatives have sadly been stolen, I am keen to see the work of this guardian of tradition; the composition of locomotives and the faces of traditional family life on camera reels never previously developed.


astrologer in Delhi
15 Sep, 2018 | 04:18
Waiting for the such an article or information. which help me the most.
Waiting for the such an article or information. which help me most.
reiki training in india
15 Sep, 2018 | 02:39
Really such a good post, thanks for sharing this useful post.
reiki training in india
13 Sep, 2018 | 03:06
Nice Share.
reiki training in india
13 Sep, 2018 | 03:06
Such a good informative post. Thanks for sharing <a href=""> reiki training in india</a>
chicken kathi roll in gurgaon
12 Sep, 2018 | 05:29
I looking for the such post. Very useful. Thanks for sharing.
12 Sep, 2018 | 05:19
Good to see this post. thanks for this useful post. Also click on the link for the best fast food.
Best Burgers in Gurgaon
12 Sep, 2018 | 04:06
Good share. Nice post.
Best Burgers in Gurgaon
12 Sep, 2018 | 04:05
Good to see this post. thanks for this useful post. Also click on the link for the best fast food. <a href=""> Best Burgers in Gurgaon</a>
Doors manufacturer in Hubli
08 Sep, 2018 | 06:41
nice topic which you have choose. second is, the information which you have provided is better then other blog. so nice work keep it up. And thanks for sharing.
Goa Escorts
07 Sep, 2018 | 10:41
This is an awesome rousing article. I am practically satisfied with your great work. You put extremely exceptionally accommodating data. Keep it up. Continue blogging. Hoping to peruse your next post.
pav bhaji online order delhi
07 Sep, 2018 | 05:49
such a good post..follow link <a href=""> pav bhaji online order delhi</a>
Best Burgers in Gurgaon
07 Sep, 2018 | 04:15
Very good information. Thanks for sharing. Visit the site
Best Burgers in Gurgaon
07 Sep, 2018 | 04:13
Very good information. Thanks for sharing. Visit the site <a href=""> Best Burgers in Gurgaon</a>
New Year 2019
05 Sep, 2018 | 00:07
Very Informative article, Amazing article. I am so impressed.
$1 web Hosting
29 Aug, 2018 | 07:53
This is a good post. This post gives truly quality information. I’m definitely going to look into it. Really very useful tips are provided here. Thank you so much. Keep up the good works
29 Aug, 2018 | 07:51
<a href="googlle"> google </a>
PVC Door suppliers In Hubli
17 Aug, 2018 | 05:56
Thanks for giving great kind of information. So useful and practical for me. Thanks for your excellent blog, nice work keep it up thanks for sharing the knowledge.
hi, nice information is given in this blog. Thanks for sharing this type of information, it is so useful for me. nice work keep it up.
Business visa provider in Dwarka
17 Aug, 2018 | 03:39
hi, nice information is given in this blog. Thanks for sharing this type of information, it is so useful for me. nice work keep it up. <a href="">Business visa provider in Dwarka</a>
Qoupon Codes
09 Aug, 2018 | 01:07
Now this is something we call passion or love of his work . I just felt in Love with this Old man as he seems like my Grand-Pa. Here i like to appreciate his determination and passion towards his work that will lead him to success and gives him energy to do more and best. I wish i could say him too to capture my Photo. Hope he will get more customers and they will pay him according to his Experience.
zombs royale
01 Aug, 2018 | 02:40
This is really a great stuff for sharing. Keep it up .Thanks for sharing.
lyrics with music
27 Jul, 2018 | 06:54
Read all lyrics
Bali honeymoon packages
27 Jul, 2018 | 06:53
For more infomration visit here
seo service in delhi
27 Jul, 2018 | 06:52
Visit here
$1 hosting godaddy
27 Jul, 2018 | 01:32
Useful post content. You have provided exceptional info about registered camp sites. I am appreciated your brilliant work. I am looking forward for your next helpful content.
19 Jul, 2018 | 13:22
Escorts in Dwarka
14 Jul, 2018 | 01:14
Such a great post. first-time I visit your website and I am glad to be here and read this wonderful post. I have read a few articles on your website and I really like your style.
Delhi Escorts Services
14 Jul, 2018 | 01:10
Very well written post and very helpful to me. I wanted to thank you for this great read!! I definitely enjoying every little bit of it and I have you bookmarked to check out new stuff you post.
07 Jul, 2018 | 01:59
A great achievement by Gregorio Alcon Beltran in his life....the moral of the story is HARD WORK is always pays off ... I've completely fulfilled with this article thanks for sharing this blog...if you are looking for some discount coupons then take a visit to the site where you can get shopping discount offers.
07 Jul, 2018 | 01:57
Straight Leather Jacket
21 Jun, 2018 | 01:46
This artist principally enjoyed traveling the country in military garrisons. These unconventional figures UN agency watch their wood tripods area unit greatly revered by society for capturing a part of Bolivia’s history through their lenses. Photography has stay the simplest Art of all Era.
godaddy $1 hosting
26 May, 2018 | 03:44
ANTIQUE PHOTOGRAPHERS, Portrait of Gregorio Alcón Beltrán, This is really great to be here on your website. There are many useful information in this post. I really appreciate your work. Thanks for sharing this with us.
Memorial Day discount coupons
19 May, 2018 | 07:00
Photography has remain the best Art of all Era. The class of Photographer relays on the quality of the picture. It doesn't matter how good or bad the location is , it totally depends upon the photographer how he will capture the scene. I love the creative thought behind your post and the best thing i love the most in your post is the picture you have shared of an old photographer.
vmware promo codes
18 May, 2018 | 05:54
I love antique photography in this post I can find great stuff about photography. the equipment which shows in the post is also unique. I am impressed with the information. keep it you are doing a great job.
star lord jacket | Superjackets
26 Nov, 2017 | 02:52
I want to say about this article, uummm this is amazing and nice post.
I like your post because I love photography and I wish that I will become a great photographer in future. This site always gives me great information about photography. I appreciate your work . Thanks a million and please keep up the effective work. I would love to see some more interesting articles so keep posting.

Make a comment

Captcha image