This week I've just completed working on new images from the Altiplano of Bolivia.
Over the past few months, I've had some time away from my busy schedule each year. I've been at home for most of the time, sleeping in the same bed and finding a routine in the day to day experiences of city life. It's been a real luxury for me to do this.
Having this time and space at home, away from workshops and tours, has allowed me to entertain working on some of my own images that I've been stock piling up for some time. It's been hugely rewarding (and of great relief) to be able to unburden my conscience by completing work from the Isle of Harris, Patagonia and now the Bolivian Altiplano. Having a backlog of work that is incomplete feels unhealthy: it creates a blockage of sorts in my mind, and stops me from moving forward with what I do. I like to leave work for a while before I edit it, to allow objectivity into the picture, but leaving work for far too long starts to invite a sense of procrastination and other complex feelings about your work. It's not advised. Trust me :-)
I love my work: I'm so extremely lucky to be able to go to so many wonderfully exotic landscapes each year. Many of these places have become friends - as my favourite landscape photographer - Michael Kenna has often said in his interviews - the more you return to a place, the more you get to know it, to open up a deeper conversation with it. I couldn't agree more.
With this in mind, I present to you my most recent images from the Bolivian Altiplano.
About the Altiplano
At high altitudes between 3,600m and 4,800m, the air is thin here. There is no humidity so temperatures drop below freezing at night. There are no roads to speak of - just vast desert interspersed with Land Cruiser tracks spreading out in all directions. Professional help is needed and indeed, sensible. The guides and drivers I use here know their way around the landscape, and can also be found to navigate the largest salt flat - the Salar de Uyuni by fixing onto the far off distant silhouettes of volcanos. It is a challenging place, and coming here requires a lot of planning and discussions since many of the tour operators do not venture out for the special hours.
About the new Work
I should stress that there were some preconceived notions about what I hoped to achieve on my visit this June. When I say preconceived - I mean that I can't help having visual ideas or dreams about what I hope to accomplish. They are really motivators to get my inspiration working and I'm quite happy to depart from them once on location. They are dreams, and as such, they are often quite broad and not too specific.
It had been two years since I was last here, and I knew I'd missed certain key locations if I were hoping to complete a rounded representation of what is here. Now that I've completed the new work, I realise that although I did indeed visit some of these key locations and realise some of the images I'd hoped to make, the new body of work is different yet again from anything I had envisaged.
Things never quite turn out the way you want them to. In the process of aiming for what I was looking for, I've been fortunate to discover beautiful locations and imagery that I couldn't have dreamed of before setting off on this journey.
This, I feel, is the best thing about photography: you always aim for something, and more often than not, the final results and experiences are more surprising than you could have ever imagined.
I'd like to express my deepest of thanks to the following guides and drivers who assisted me over the three week period I was at high altitude:
Abel Valdivia Lopez
Armando Mamani Flores
Demetrio Chavez Vergara
Alvaro Oropeza Carbera
AG Photographic, who should be commended for giving consistent and reliable results. In an age where I've had to switch lab because of poor or contaminated processing, AG can be trusted to give me the standard of film developing I need.