It was in 2010 when I first heard all about the country that was on every traveller’s lips when I was travelling around South America. Colombia, I was told, not only had the friendliest and most welcoming people, and the most beautiful landscapes and old colonial towns of any South American country – but it was also the one they felt the safest in during their travels. Being a child of the 80s and 90s, I couldn’t help but have a deeply ingrained view that what they were telling me was completely wrong...! In fact, I’d go as far as to say were it not for my mate, Guy, who has been living in Bogota for the last year, re-assuring me that the country was every bit as beautiful, safe, and welcoming as I’d heard seven years before, I still would’ve thought twice about heading over there by myself. I can't tell you how crazy that is to be thinking that now.
But like with any of these things, you have to go out and explore for yourself, and make up your own mind. So at the end of March, I took myself over there and spent a couple weeks exploring the country with Guy, and getting to know the people. The pictures below are a snapshot of the places we explored - there’s Jardin, a small mountain village full of cowboys; Medellin, Pablo Escobar’s old haunt, and party capital of the country; the beautiful (but touristy) old colonial town, Cartagena; the small Caribbean island of Isla Grande, with its 800 inhabitants, some of whom have never left the island; and finally the capital, Bogota. Quite a lot to pack into two weeks, and next time I’ll be keeping the street photography to a minimum, and instead get into nature and visit the Coffee Zone and Pacific-coast side - Colombia really is blessed with a wealth of options to explore.
Street Photography and Gear
A quick word on how it was shooting out there. There were certain areas that were definitely still sketchy, changing from tourist safe-haven to quite seedy within a single block, as was the case in Medellin. So locals advice on where and where not to go could prove rather handy. Then again there were some areas that locals still said to avoid unless travelling in a group, like Comuna 13, once notorious for being Colombia's most dangerous area - we arrived however to find tourists travelling up and down the long outdoor escalators in tour groups, enjoying the amazing street graffiti and the view from the top of the barrio, over-looking Medellin.
I did find that some locals would cover their faces, move away, or make it clear they didn’t want their picture taken, but they were very much in the minority. We really were on the whole welcomed in by the people, whether it was going into somebody’s home to watch a Colombian World Cup qualifier, or joining in with a couple of street parties.
All the photos were shot with the Fuji X-T2 and 23mm 1.4 (mostly set around f8), which was perfect for street photography - small, light, quiet, inconspicuous (compared to a DSLR) and the electronic viewfinder is fantastic for getting the exposure bang on in-camera. Still not as quick to auto-focus as the Nikon D750, especially in low-light, but with most my shooting taking place in day-light hours, it was more than capable.
So anyway, here’s a snapshot of Colombia, hope you enjoy.