Film and Photography
Peru is a very photogenic country, and don’t be surprised if you shoot twice as much as you were expecting. In Peru, photographing soldiers or military installations is against the law.
Memory cards and other accessories are increasingly available in Lima and other large Peruvian cities. These same outfits will usually take a full memory card and burn it onto a compact disc for about US$5—but that requires the toggle cable that comes with your camera. Bring a few large-capacity cards and an extra battery. Unless you have your own laptop, there will be long stretches where you will not be able to download.
When it comes to conventional cameras, nearly every Peruvian city has a photo-processing lab, which is usually affiliated with Kodak. Quality varies, however, and if you are looking for highly professional quality, wait until you return home or get to a big city like Lima, Trujillo, Cusco, Arequipa, or Puno. Developing black-and-white or slide film is limited to big cities too.
The main issue for photography on the coast and in the highlands is the intense sunlight. The ideal times to photograph are in the warm-color hours of early morning or late afternoon. Use filters that knock down UV radiation and increase saturation of colors. In the jungle, the main problem is lack of light, so a higher ASA is recommended whether using conventional or digital cameras. If you want to take pictures of wildlife, you will have to bring a hefty zoom and have a lot of time to wait for the shots to materialize. A good source of information on travel photography is Tribal Eye Images (www.tribaleye.co.uk). The author offers free tips on choosing equipment and film, general techniques and composition, photographing people, and selling your work. Other sites include www.photo.net/travel and the members-only www.photographytips.com.
Photographing locals poses a real dilemma. On one hand, their colorful clothing and expressions make the best travel photos. But many Peruvians feel uncomfortable with having their picture taken, and foreigners need to respect that. They might even ask you, with all right, ¿Porqué me tomas una foto?, “Why are you shooting a photo of me?” Before you take a picture of people, take the time to meet them and establish a relationship. Then ask permission to take their photo.
The most compliant subjects are market vendors, especially those from whom you have just bought something. Children in the highlands will ask for money in order to have their picture taken. Adults will even ask if you will be making business selling their portraits.
© Ross Wehner and Renée del Gaudio from Moon Peru, 3rd Edition