Peru StreetPhotography: “Perhaps the most honest photo you’ll ever see”

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In 2014, a group of photographers — some professional, others hobbyists — came together to form an online community to promote street photography in Peru. For some time, this style had already been present in European nations, growing in popularity across the U.S., and seeping into Latin America — yet not fully established in Peru. What began as a Facebook page to attract like minded photographers has continued to grow to this day, taking *Peru StreetPhotography* into the realm of videos, Instagram, group photography walks in and out of Lima, and a presence of over 6,000 members in their public group on said social media site.

If a photo is worth a thousand words, imagine how much this group can tell you about the people and places they capture every day.


_(Photo: Jean Paul Merino/Peru StreetPhotography)_

So just what constitutes as “street” or “urban” photography?

“Street photography is spontaneous, never choreographed…it’s the strange, the absurd…perhaps the most honest photo you’ll ever see,” explains *Raul Burbano*, acting administrator of Peru StreetPhotography. “Street photography teaches you to observe – to find something that most people don’t see, that most would otherwise walk right past – and to act in the moment and take the photo while the opportunity is there.”

Much like when the group of young men saw a lack of authentic support and encouragement to display their photos.

“We investigated before initiating the group, and what we found was there were few groups dedicated to this type of photography,” explains *Jean Paul Merino*, a professional photographer and, along with Burbano, the only other administrator to Peru StreetPhotography who currently resides in Lima. “There’s plenty of groups for photographers [in Peru], but most have monetary purposes: to sell their photos, equipment, tours.”

“Our members aren’t treated like clients, *they’re one of us*,” assures Burbano. “Even the group’s administrators are on a horizontal plane, meant to facilitate and articulate group discussions.”


_(Photo: Jean Paul Merino/Peru StreetPhotography)_

Peru StreetPhotography keeps a strict watch over what is posted on their page, from prohibiting advertisements to monitoring back-and-forth discussions posted between members. (“The idea of respect is fundamental for us,” insists Burbano.) In such a way, the photos themselves are allowed to take center stage. And the talent behind the lens is evident.

“Eventually *we would like to see the group, or some of our photographers, be able to expose in galleries* around Lima, to show street art to the greater public,” comments Merino. You may remember his tender photo of an elderly couple sitting astride a bicycle, an image that became one of the group’s most popular (or most ‘liked’) on social media. However, even this image, able to capture hearts of many, was unlike many of the images displayed on tourist sites and glossy magazines promoting a visit to Lima.

“The postcard images of Lima, where everything is clean, there are clean skies and new shopping centers, these only show one side to the city, but it’s not the only one,” says Burbano, who along with Merino, is baffled at the concept that Lima is referred to as a ‘grey’ city.

“The spontaneity in Lima, the _criolla_ culture, is something that no other city in the world has,” defends Merino. “People call it _Lima la gris_, but it’s not grey. There’s plenty of color.”


_Photo excursion to Ancon earlier this year (Photo: Peru StreetPhotography)_

Peru StreetPhotograpy has led various group photography walks around Lima, from the historic center to the recently devastated Shipibo community in Cantagallo, Rimac. With popularity growing, a limit of 20 people are allowed on the walks due to there being only two available administrators (the third administrator, Raul Rafael, currently lives in Cusco). Dedicated to full-time jobs, the two Lima administrators try to organize one photo group outing a month, as well as the occasional photography trip outside of the capital city (Ancón, Matucana and San Jeronimo have been some of their favorites).

The group photo walks are not only a chance to meet online community members face to face, but to promote the idea of going out and rediscovering the one lives in but perhaps take for granted (all the while in a secure and encouraging environment).

With the country’s rich history and unique cultures as the stage, Peru StreetPhotography has become a means for contemporary stories to be told, seen, and heard.

“Many talented *photographers feel they need to travel abroad to find work*, or at least to be respected for their work,” says Merino. “One of my dreams is that photography is seen as a real career here in Peru, just like medicine or law.”

_Follow Peru StreetPhotography on_ _Facebook_ _and_ _Instagram_

A group of young photographers have built a community attracting like minded people who are interested in the spontaneous, absurd, and undiscovered side of Lima and beyond.

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Agnes Rivera

A U.S. native plucked from the green surroundings of her home state of Oregon, Agnes Rivera has been living in Lima, Peru, fulfilling various occupations such as teaching, translating, and journalism. While indoors she uses her time creatively to build "recycled art" and read fiction, she is quick to use any excuse to be outdoors, balancing her inner home-body lifestyle with an adventurous spirit to explore all that Peru has to offer.