Issue - April 2007

April 2007

Dear readers, in March we broaden our horizons, searching for centers in Bolivia that have a commitment to the community. This edition, read about the Fundación Simón I: Patiño and the Hacienda Pairumani who demonstrate an unfailing commitment throughout the years, not only to Cochabamba, but Bolivia in more...

April 2007

Juan Cristobal Quiroga

Profession: photographer, publisher, graphic designer
Currently Residing in: Cochabamba
Studies: business, ecology

by Caroline Amouyal
Tania Delamotte

Cocha-banner: How come that with business and ecology studies you ended up in photography?

Juan Critóbal Quiroga: when I was younger, I loved travelling through Bolivia, especially on archaeological expeditions. But I just wanted to enjoy the moment and so I never took pictures. But after a while seeing amazing places, I thought somehow that I should share them, especially because photography is not well developed in Bolivia. First it became a hobby, but then, as I had knowledge of graphic design, I decided to produce books in order to show all those beautiful places.

CB: With whom especially do you want to share those pictures?

JCQ: At first, my target was the foreigners who wanted to have souvenirs of the country. Then I noticed that about 70% of the people buying the books were actually Bolivians, who wanted to know more about their own country, and especially remote areas where you cannot get.

CB: You seem to have a special attraction to remote areas. How come?

JCQ: I like open spaces and the image of isolation, although for myself I don't like isolation! I'm fascinated about how people live in these areas, their authenticity and pureness. Most of them have never seen a camera!! When I get close to the loneliness of the highland of the country, I feel happy. Maybe it's something I miss in my life…

CB: Some of the places you took pictures of are hard to reach. How did you get there?

JCQ: My objective is to reach areas as far as possible from the main road… So I have to take my 4x4, but I also walk a lot with my camera, my tent, and a group of 3 or 4 people (most of them are photographers or scientists).

CB: So, you never travel alone. In the same way as you never publish only your work, but also work of other photographers. Why?

JCQ: The idea is that I want to show the country through different points of view and you'll always find a picture that is better than yours! I am also planning to publish books about paintings. Indeed, my aim is to promote the country through all kinds of images possible.

CB: Do you have models that have inspired your work?

JCQ: The American Ansel Adams shoots amazing black and white landscapes. And black and white photos are actually my favourite ones. As well, I love the work of the French photographer Henri Cartier Bresson. Concerning Bolivian photographers, I admire the versatility of Tony Suarez, Aldo Cardoso and Willy Kenning, who was the first one to take the risk of publishing photography books.

CB: You are talking about risk. Is it hard for you to make a living as a photographer in Bolivia?

JCQ: I had knowledge of photography through my parents, who are both photographers. As well, I had experience in the printing area and finally, I had already travelled to remote areas. With all these elements, I took the risk to publish these photography books without asking for any support. I went everywhere, to libraries, markets, supermarkets and left my first book there. And it came out that people liked it! But I don't want it to become a massive publication, so each book is printed between 500 and1000 times. It is like tourism, I hate massive tourism. I prefer less people but people who are more conscious, because Bolivia has a very fragile environment and people close to tourists tend to lose their identity. It is hard, but always possible to make a living out of photography if you want to.

Emilio Martinez
Emilio Martinez (Uruguay), writer and journalist, winner of the "Premio Municipal de Literatura de Montevideo" and "Premio National de Literatura Santa Cruz de la Sierra", author of Imigraciones de Arkham and various articles for Bolivian and Uruguayan newspapers such as La Union, El Deber and La Razón, in his short thesis...
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