I traveled to Bolivia in 2012 to visit my sister and her family, who were living in Cochabamba. I timed my trip to be able to experience and photograph Boliva’s Carnival in the mountain village of Oruro. I spent the first few days hanging out with my sister, brother-in-law and three nieces and exploring the city of Cochabamba. I found Bolivia to be a very interesting place to photograph. Many of the indigenous people don’t like having there picture taken, which can make it somewhat difficult to document and capture their culture. I tried to make sure I always had permission from whomever I was photographing, but there was one situation in particular where I misunderstood. It was the first time in my photography career I had someone upset with me for taking their picture. I was much more careful on the rest of the trip!
I traveled with my brother-in-law and a friend of his via bus through the Andes mountains up to the elevated village of Oruro. It is a mining town that sits at over 12,000 feet. It was hard just walking up the stairs to get to your room! Bolivians celebrate Carnival with a mix of indigenous celebration and an influence of Catholic Carnival from places like Brazil. It was entertaining watching all the dancers in crazy costumes serenaded by band after band. The celebration goes on for 4 days and there are over 30,000 dancers, fireworks, street vendors everywhere and around 400,000 spectators. Being an obvious tourist, they were sure to let me get front row access and even “inside the ropes” so I could get the best pictures possible. It was an incredible experience and was almost overwhelming to photograph. We stayed for two days of the festivities and then headed back down the mountain. I’ll never forget those two days in Oruro! – McCory