Every once in a while I like to diverge from my typical form of street photography and look at something a bit different. In this case I spotted a number of firefighters coats hanging outside a fire station and thought they looked like an interesting composition. Location: Guayaquil, Ecuador.
As many of you know already The Collective was launched in December 2012 in an effort to bring to you, the viewers of Ecuador Unplugged, images from a variety of photographers documenting all aspects of Ecuador from the people to the plants and all between. This initiative is not meant to be static and will continue to grow with new contributors as time goes on.
Recently I had the pleasure of being contacted by Doug Pyper, a Canadian Professional Photographer and Multimedia Journalist out of British Columbia who splits his time between the Great White North (Canada) and the Pearl of South America (Ecuador).
Doug is no stranger to Ecuador Unplugged having contacted us almost a year ago to express his appreciation of the work we were doing, so hearing from Doug once again was a great pleasure. Out of that conversation came his participation in The Collective, and the launch of a first in (hopefully) a series of Q&A with other Collective members.
So here is our intrepid investigative reporter and mascot, Iggy, and his questions to Doug.
Iggy: So Doug, where are you originally from?
Doug: I was born In Edmonton, Alberta, but left there shortly after finishing my university degree to head west to the mountains and eventually the beautiful Kootenay region of southeastern BC. Been there for nearly thirty years, so like to think that’s where I’m from. Don’t really like to be thought of as an Albertan…LOL!
Iggy: Wow! Not many iguanas in Canada I suspect! So, why have you chosen Ecuador as a place to live?
Doug: Well, I am not actually living in Ecuador, just spending a lot of time here in the last few years. Currently I am here on a six month visa. While traveling through Bolivia, Peru, Ecuador and Colombia in the past few years I fell in love with Ecuador. The geographical diversity, the varying cultures, but most of all the people in general. They are happy and easy going for the most part, friendly to each other and strangers alike and don’t have a lot of hang-ups that plaque North American society. I know that’s a generalization, but its the best way I know of stating it.
Iggy: Why are you a photographer?
Doug: I always believed I was meant to be a photographer. We all have a gift, if we can only discover what it is. I discovered mine quite early in life and dedicated my life to nurturing that gift, learning and sharing it with others. Certainly has never made me rich in a monetary sense (that’s an understatement) but it has given me a fulfilling life in respect to it.
Iggy: How would you describe your photographic work?
Doug: In a nutshell….I’m a people photographer. I think if you read the first 2 or 3 paragraphs of my biography with my images in The Collective that explains it best. I live in the mountains of British Columbia and I don’t think I have done more than half a dozen ‘landscapes’ and virtually no ‘wildlife’ photography. Lots of adventure sports stuff, but that’s mountains with people playing in and on them.
Iggy: Interesting, so what do you think of the photographic world today?
Doug: The photographic world today??…chaotic!!! Don’t know how to describe it. It has been turned inside out and upside down. Nice to see the masses are enjoying it…but there’s no question something valuable is being lost in a greater sense with the transition to digital. Great photographs are not perceived as having intrinsic value anymore, or so it seems! And my livelihood….I make a fraction of what I did ten years ago. One might surmise the profession is dying, or just being altered beyond recognition. So much can be said on this issue…it is endless and in a sense pointless to discuss. Suffice to say I consider myself semi-retired, although not by choice. Sorry, I should be a bit more succinct here, but the question is a bit overwhelming!
Iggy: Who is the greatest influence in your life/photography?
Doug: Too many to mention. I guess the 7 long term relationships I have had with woman in my life to date influenced me a great deal. Still don’t understand how people maintain long term relationships. Maybe I will figure this out in another lifetime.
As far as photographers, I always thought Karsh was awesome, always been moved David Hamilton’s romantic feminine soft focus images, and most of the early photojournalists including Henri Cartier Bresson and others of his era. No one contemporary really inspires me in particular. Perhaps a few of the National Geo types. I do admire the work and dedication of Ami Vitale in particular. Steve McCurry is over-rated in my humble opinion. Seems it’s all about money and marketing now.
Iggy: What do you feel is the greatest challenge facing emerging photographers today?
Doug: This one’s easy. Finally a short answer. Making a living!! No mater how talented you are it’s near impossible…and in realty it’s not the talented photographers that make it…it is the talented business men in the industry. In a sense it always has been that way…but it’s truer than ever now!
Iggy: If you could photograph one person/one place today, who would it be?
Doug: Mother Teresa and Che Guevera. Unfortunately they are both gone! I do love photographing children..it is passion with me. In a sense it is my driving force as a photographer. Children wear no masks (until adult society teaches them to do so), and if you’re truthful, honest, and connect with them on that level the rewards will be gratifying beyond imagination. I believe my child photography exhibits that. Perhaps I’m still a child at heart…and that’s why it works so well for me. Not sure. I love being in the company of children…preferable to adults in many respects I suppose. I have a great distaste for any type of pretension…and children haven’t developed that yet for the most part.
Iggy: What has been your greatest photographic success to date?
Doug: That’s impossible for me to answer. It’s an ongoing thing. Every image is a surprise and a gift. I do love the image of the young boy that came out of the NGO assignment in Quito a few years back (included in selection I submitted). His eyes are so very powerful and immediately convey the story of his life to the viewer. Such is the power of photography…and that will never change. This image was a gift that I accept with great gratitude. It was a deep sharing between us and moment of truth and human connection. I truly believe “the camera looks both ways.”
Iggy: Well Doug, I have only one more question and then I will let you run – If you could give advice to new photographers out there what would you tell them?
Doug: Remember “that the camera looks both ways” and that photography is about three things only…light, love and respect. And one final word of advice…enjoy photography, but keep your day job!!!
Thanks for sharing a little about you and your work with our viewers Doug, we really appreciate it. Doug is currently residing in Baños and is working on a number of projects here in Ecuador including a hands on photography program for children in the Baños area. For more information on this program and how you can help would can go to Arte Del Mundo Ecuador. In the next week or so, Doug will also be heading off into the Amazon to work on a documentary piece for the Clear Water Project (http://www.giveclearwater.org), which should prove to be an exciting adventure.
We wish Doug the best of luck as he continues to explore Ecuador and encourage you to visit his images and share your coments and thoughts on his images in our section The Collective. As always we encourage your comments and discussion.
You can find Doug at Doug Pyper Photography
I shot these two guys watching the New Years Festivities along the waterfront. Living and shooting in a city like Guayaquil you begin to pick up a sixth sense as to when something looks a little suspicious. I am not saying these two young men were up to no good but moments after I shot this a couple of officers (four actually) walked over to the two young men and after a brief exchange of words each left in a separate direction.
Even my self-appointed “bodyguard” for the day, Max, was eyeballing them, rolling his eyes, and comically arching his eyebrows while pointing to them with his chin – all in a warning for me to be careful. Good ol’Max stuck by my side the whole day and – at no more than 120lbs soaking wet – shy and a star footballer he was ready at a moments notice to “step in” if needed.
Looks like I may not have been the only one who thought the situation was “A Little Suspicious”.
Adrian, Cultural Anthropologist by training, street photographer by passion. In 2010 Adrian co-founded the groundbreaking Ecuador Unplugged a website dedicated to exploring the real people, real places and real life of Ecuador.
Stone Galleries is a brief compilation of his work as a photographer. The works of Adrian focus primarily on the people of Ecuador in the Black and White medium.
You can read more about Adrian and the work of Ecuador Unplugged at http://ecuadorunplugged.com
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