Shooting the Streets: Quito and Bogota – 2016 Street Photography Calendar

Atahualpa on a Bus, Quito, March 2015Atahualpa on a Bus – Quito March 2015

Cross-posted from my blog, Piran Cafe

A couple days ago, a blog reader contacted me requesting a 2016 calendar made up of some of my street photography images. I was absolutely delighted to read that message and am equally as delighted to oblige. Here’s the result: “Shooting the Streets: Quito and Bogota“, now available in my Red Bubble shop.

The 13 images were all shot in Quito, Ecuador, and Bogota, Colombia during my six-month stint in South America earlier this year; they’re not necessarily my 13 favorites from the past year, but they are on the short list of my most personally memorable horizontal shots. The lone vertical exception is the cover shot, “Atahualpa on a Bus,” above. If you’ve visited here regularly over the past year –and again my sincerest thanks!– you’ve probably seen versions of most if not all of the images. All those selected for the calendar are below; I’ve included links to their respective posts when available, for some backstory to the shots.

These also represent about a third of the images that will be included in a photo exhibit in the early part of next year, and possibly in a smaller self-published book project too. If you’ve got a minute, please check it out — I’d love to hear your thoughts. Thanks!

Homeless man poses for a photo in Bogota's Bolivar Plaza“I’m a beautiful man.” – Bogota, 13 June 2015
Still Life With a Dozen Dolls, Toquinho, and Mick Jagger’s Primitive Cool - BogotaStill Life With a Dozen Dolls, Toquinho, and Mick Jagger’s ‘Primitive Cool’ – Bogota, 14 August 2015

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A Passion Play in Purple: Quito’s Good Friday Procession

Cross bearer taking a brief break, Good Friday Procession, Quito, 03-Apr-2015

Cross bearer taking a brief break, Good Friday Procession, Quito, 03-Apr-2015

QUITO — There really are no limits to the ways one can illustrate devotion to one’s faith.

At yesterday’s annual Good Friday Procession in Quito, that devotion took on a multitude of forms I’ve never witnessed: dozens carried or pulled heavy crosses, others marched with shackles wrapped around their bruised ankles, and still others, bleeding from the barbed wire they wrapped themselves in, self-flagellated with ropes and sticks as prayers and hymns hummed through scratchy speakers that lined the procession route through the Ecuadorean capital’s historical city center.

It was a profession of faith for the several thousand who walked, many of them barefoot, and day-off entertainment for some 250,000 others, according to organizers’ estimates, who lined the streets to watch.

This was the 54th edition of Jesús del Gran Poder, or “Jesus of Great Power”, which in those five decades has grown into one of the largest and most colorful Roman Catholic Holy Week events in Latin America. More than ninety percent of Ecuadoreans consider themselves Roman Catholic, who collectively help make this one of the country’s largest annual gatherings, second in size only to Ecuador’s National Day celebrations.

Quito Good Friday Procession 11

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Ecuadorean Park Provides Refuge for More than Two Dozen Raptor Species

Bald Eagle at the Parque Condor in Otavalo, Ecuador

QUITO — For many, the primary reason to visit Otavalo, a city about three hours from the Ecuadorean capital Quito, is to experience the largest indigenous market in South America. For me? To spend the better part of an afternoon at the Parque Condor, a rescue and release bird park on a mountain ridge overlooking the city.

The park, founded more than a decade ago by a Belgian expat, is a rescue an release sanctuary for nearly two dozen raptor species that have, at one point or another, called the park home. At the moment, its 20 aviaries accommodate several species of hawk, eagle and owl, along with the park’s namesake and Andean icon, the condor.

Here are a few images; check out more from the park filed for the Demotix agency here. I also published galleries for every species I snapped on my blog. You can find those here.

Black-Chested Buzzard-Eagle (Geranoaetus melanoleucus)

Black-Chested Buzzard-Eagle (Geranoaetus melanoleucus)


Hundreds Take Part in Fourth Quito Slutwalk to Protest Sexual Violence

Marcha de las Putas 01

QUITO – Several hundred people gathered in Quito to take part in the fourth annual ‘Marcha de las Putas’ on Saturday, part of the growing trans-national network of ‘Slutwalk’ marches to protest sexual and domestic violence towards women.

With an infectious rhythm of beating drums and the shrieks of loud whistles as a non-stop soundtrack, marchers chanted slogans demanding sexual and reproductive freedom and an end to rape culture as they set out on the two-hour march from the Parque El Ejido, a few kilometers north of the city’s historical center district. Night descended by the time the parade route reached its end at the Plaza Foch entertainment district.

Marcha de las Putas 07

One of the goals of the demonstration was to loudly denounce slut-shaming, victim-blaming and gender violence, which, organizers claim, is becoming less invisible thanks largely to awareness-raising actions such as the annual Slutwalks.

Another objective, said coordinator Ana Almeida prior to the march, was to challenge society into accepting responsibility for sexual violence, harassment and violence against women in general.

Indeed, the prevailing theme was one of women, tired of intolerance, male chauvinism and machismo, demanding respect and control over their own bodies. The mood was energetic, colorful, festive and confident.

While the majority of participants were women, men made up a substantial portion of the crowd, which also included families with young children, tourists and members of the LGBTI community from throughout Ecuador.

There was a sizable police presence whose role was limited to traffic control, with one notable exception.

A heavy metal guitarist, who La Hora identified as Juan David Benitez, stripped down to his socks for a three song set under the shadow cast by a statue called ‘La Lucha Eterna’, or ‘The Eternal Struggle’.

Two policemen approached and asked him to put his pants on, requests that went ignored. The standoff, accompanied by a growing crowd’s calls for encore after encore, ended in a surreal scene a few minutes later when Benitez found himself surround by nearly a dozen helmeted officers dressed in full riot gear who didn’t back off until they watched him put his pants back on.

Marcha de las Putas 34

The Slutwalk idea was found in Toronto in 2011 as a reaction to a local police officer’s suggestion that “women should avoid dressing like sluts” as a precaution against sexual assault. The concept has since spread to dozens of countries where events are organized annually.

A few more images are below; forty-six in all are on my blog. NOTE: Some of those are probably NSFW.

All images © Bob Ramsak 2015. All rights reserved. For editorial use, please check out the images I filed for Demotix / Corbis. Enjoy!

Marcha de las Putas 15

30 Images From Anti-Government Protests in Quito

QUITO – Several thousand people marched through heavy rain in the Ecuadorian capital Quito on Thursday, March 19 to protest a long list of grievances against the government of President Rafael Correa. On that list is a proposed constitutional amendment that would eliminate term limits, the president’s included. Above, a protester standing in front of the 16th century Church of San Francisco holds a sign that reads, Indefinite re-election is indefinite corruption.

The demonstration in Quito was one of a dozen protests that took place across the country yesterday, an attempt to unify the disparate pockets of opposition to Correa, who has led Ecuador since January 2007.

Police carry shields that read, ‘I am a policeman and also a son, demonstrate peacefully’.


A little more info and thirty photos in all are my blog here. All images © Bob Ramsak 2015. All rights reserved. For editorial use, please check out the 22 images I filed for Demotix / Corbis. Or, simply get in touch.


Inaugural ‘Ecuador First’ Artisans Fair Held in Quito – A 10-Image Gallery

QUITO – The inaugural “Ecuador First” fair in Quito took place last Thursday, March 19, a showcase of domestically-produced handicrafts and specialty foods organized by the national government.

The motivation behind the fair, which took over large swaths of the Plaza Grande in Quito’s historical center, was to a great extent political, a response of sorts to the organizers of the nation-wide protests which would be held later that day.

The Correa government wanted to spotlight local producers and small business owners, many of them from the country’s sizable indigenous population, as a counterweight to the indigenous groups who signed on to support the March 19 demonstrations.

Several hundred artisans answered the call, displaying and selling their wares under the shade of large tents and ubiquitous Alianza Pais party banners.

Politics aside, I’m glad it was organized for whatever reason. The variety of products showcased was impressive, from organic food and coffee producers to jewelry makers and craftsmen. And a woman who raises exotic beetle larvae. I will try one one day.

A few more images, along with a primer on the chontacuro, pictured below, are on my blog. You can also check out a small gallery of images filed for Demotix.

Rhynchophorus palmarum, or Chontaduro aka chontacuro.

Rhynchophorus palmarum, or Chontaduro aka chontacuro.


Shark Fin Harvesting in Ecuador Revisited

Pile of shark fins, Manta, Ecuador

When I was in Ecuador in May 2013, I posted a brief summary on my blog of how a loophole in Ecuadoran law allowed fishermen to legally sell sharks that ended up in their nets. While shark fishing is officially outlawed, the law didn’t clearly define a distinction between landings that were accidental or intentional, which meant that plenty of dead sharks, young and old, were piling up on Ecuador’s coast each morning.

The main prize was the fin, which continued to command a lucrative price to help feed China’s insatiable appetite for shark fin soup. I spotted plenty of evidence during a couple brief walks along the morning fish markets in Manta and Puerto Lopez.

Young hammerhead sharks, Puerto Lopez, Ecuador

Young hammerhead sharks at the morning fish market in Puerto Lopez, Ecuador, May 2013


In the following photo essay, Shark Fin Harvesting in Ecuador Revisited: ‘Sincere Efforts’ to Close Finning Loopholes Reported, I did some follow up work on the situation in Ecuador, and it looks promising. Certainly an improvement over the last widely reported English language report I’ve seen, a December 2011 story in The Global Post.

I was in touch with several experts who are closely monitoring conservation efforts on the ground in Ecuador: Pablo Xavier Guerrero Verduga, the Marine Coordinator of the World Wildlife Fund; Scott Henderson, Vice President for Conservation International in the Americas Field Division Marine Program; and Luis Suárez, Vice President of Conservation International-Ecuador.

Said Henderson:

“What is certain is that the Ecuadorian laws and system is much better than it used to be, and much better than most Latin American countries — indeed better than most countries, in general. This doesn’t mean it is perfect, but there have been sincere efforts to improve.”

Check out the full essay on Medium.