Picture Perfect

Wedding PartyI like to think of myself as a photographer, by which I mean that I often go out with my digital camera, point, shoot and hope for the best. Then I come across the work of a real master of the art and realise what a ham-fisted amateur I really am.

On the left is a perfect image of a wedding party taken by Martin Chambi in Peru almost a century ago. You’ll need to enlarge, but for me, the composition and lighting is perfect.

The tiny smile of the bride, the seriousness of the groom, the texture of the clothes, the bridesmaids perfectly positioned to the right and the faces of the women in shadow behind.

Chambi was one of the first photographers based in Latin America to make his name. Born to a peasant family in one of the poorest regions of Peru, he learned his skill from the photographer of the Santo Domingo Mine near Coaza.

He was one of the first to photograph the lost Inca city of Machu Picchu, but it is for his depictions of Peruvian life that he is best known, like the photo on the right of three men in  a bar room.

I came across the photo in this week’s Sunday Times magazine and it makes me realise just how easy we have it with the ‘endless film’ of our digital cameras compared with the pioneers who worked with plates.

Nobody’s prefect. If you find any spelling mistakes or other errors in this post, please let me know by highlighting the text and pressing Ctrl+Enter.

5 comments… Add yours
  • Roger Green 14th November 2011

    Or maybe you just need to move to early 20th century Peru.

  • Yorkshire Pudding 14th November 2011

    Pssst! “… in Peru almost a century age”. I think you mean “ago”. Personally, I’m not so nostalgic about photography of the past. I think the digital camera is an amazing invention that allows amateurs like you and I to occasionally take brilliant photographs without all the technical brouhaha of former times.

  • Mr Parrot 15th November 2011

    Thanks YP. Were wood I bee wivout ewe!

    I agree about the digital camera. Photography used to be an extremely expensive hobby between Kodak and Boots just for 36 snaps to be developed.

    The trouble is, photography has almost become another disposable item, whereas a century ago it was rare and valued and so cherished.

    Who will sift through the trillions of today’s digital snaps in 100 years times?

  • Jennyta 15th November 2011

    I do agree that photos taken these days with our easy to use digital cameras have become part of the throwaway era. The vast majority are not even printed but languish on people’s hard drives (to be lost when the computer breaks down or is stolen, as I know to my cost!) but, thinking of the many disasters of my early attempts at photography, I think on balance I prefer the digital age. I’ve never pretended to be anything but a bog standard ‘pointer and shooter’ and that suits me just fine. Now, I just delete the disasters!

  • Linda 17th November 2011

    I first want to say you really made beautiful pictures and I really love this blog. Yet again a great article I really liked all your articles. I totally agree with you about the picture from above. Great work!


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