Photography.. you just point your camera and click the button right? How hard can it be? This was the main thought running through my mind when I ventured down to Recoleta to join in Foto Ruta’s photography class and tour. If you look through my personal photo collection one thing becomes very obvious – I’m rubbish! My photographs are best described as functional and at worst like looking through the eyes of someone with glaucoma. Members of my family have dabbled with photography at various stages, expensive cameras, huge lenses and reels of film; it’s all heavily romanticised and it seems anyone with a camera fancies themselves as a Carol Guzy just because they took a black and white photo of an old woman on a bench.
My own mocking English cynicism aside, I was looking forward to learning how to actually take worthwhile shots with the camera and also getting to see more of Recoleta, one of the more upmarket areas of Buenos Aires.
The tour began at 2pm and we met at the rather nice Sileo hotel in Recoleta, where we were briefed on the day’s objective. The day is structured as a sort of pictorial scavenger hunt, we are given clues such as “fallen angel” and we have to take photos that best represent them, taking light, shape, focus, lines, perspective, angle etc into account.
This introduction was fascinating to me as I’m not sure I have a creative bone in my body, so it was interesting to see all these options that I would never have taken into account in a million years!. After the introduction we were given a list of 10 clues and a map of Recoleta with the highlights marked out, placed into teams and unleashed onto the streets.
We headed straight for the main park in the area intending to only take a few shots but ended up staying there for 3 hours! What surprised me is how much attention you pay to things you would never normally notice when you are actually looking for a meaning. Even my untrained eye began to look for poignancy in every tree, statue, person, dog and shop window and its quite easy to get lost in this motive. I spent about 10 minutes staring at an overflowing dustbin wondering if it meant something before proclaiming ‘don’t be stupid’ to myself, wandering off to stare at someone playing bagpipes only to wonder the exact same thing again.
We spent about 3 hours wandering around, got to see some great sights such as the famous Floralis Genérica statue which while it currently does not open and close as was the intention is still impressive. We briefly explored La Recoleta Cemetery which contains the impressive headstones and monuments of Argentina’s previous presidents and dignitaries.
It’s also worth mentioning that the cemetery holds an incredible number of stray cats, they are everywhere! (They’re coming out of the goddamn walls!) While relatively tame and friendly, they did look pretty skanky, I’m not sure I’d pick one up…. that didn’t stop Sarah though! Holding onto a hairy, smelly creature with sharp teeth must have been terrifying but the cat was very brave.
We all reunited back at the hotel to share photos and see what the other team had come up with. It was here I realised just how many of the photos I was in, but my ever growing ego loved it so that was a bonus. On a side note the other team were way better than us! Very professionally done and you could have easily seen a few of them in magazines, but ours raised a laugh or two so I was happy
All in all it was a great day out, I learned a bit about what to look out for in photography and I’m a complete amateur but I think photographers of any level would enjoy themselves. Get yourself booked on a group, it’s a lot of fun.