When I traveled to Bolivia last September, I wanted to take pictures of everything. There was so much going on around me — from the intricate street art to the adorable children to the colorful marketplaces. I was particularly interested in capturing the personalities on the street, especially the indigenous Bolivian women, or “cholitas.”
These women were the toughest chicks I’d ever laid eyes on. Every day they hauled loads of goods (fruit, veggies, meat, household items, etc.) to their sales posts, usually all done with a small child tucked under their arm. Their skin was weathered, their hands were worn, and there was an intense history visible in their eyes. I wanted to photograph every single one of them.
The problem was, they denied my every request for a portrait. I got yelled at a couple times and even chased out of an olive-vendor’s shop. A couple women didn’t shy away, but then asked for money in exchange for a shot. The only viable option (and to keep from going broke) was to discreetly shoot from the hip. Because I was there on a video assignment, I was working with with a Canon 5D Mark II and conspicuous 24-70mm lens, so this was easier said than done.
This shot was taken near the end of my month-long trip. It took dozens of tries to get a well-exposed, well-composed and decently focused shot, but persistence paid off. I especially love the expression on her face, the variety of items surrounding her and of course, the huge knife.