South America Living

How I Lost My Travel Website by Taking a Photo… or Not

by Molly McHugh, Former Editor/Publisher of South America Living.     About the Author

My son and I stayed in Sucre, Bolivia for a month, so he could take some classes (guitar and drawing) and I could get some online work done. I also wanted to feature the area in our Cheap Places to Live in South America section so needed a little time to research, take photographs, etc. Part of that process was to visit popular tourist attractions in the area such as the Tarabuco Sunday Market. Here starts the story.

Tourists Shopping at the Tarabuco Sunday Market

After arriving at the town of Tarabuco and walking through the square shooting a video I started to wander through the crowd and the streets taking photos. The indigenous Yampura community is a novice photographers dream; sharp-featured people wearing vibrant, picturesque clothing plus a general disregard for strangers as they go about their business. It can be very touchy taking photos of locals in Bolivia without offending, getting yelled at or possibly having something thrown at you; they don’t like it.

I was doing pretty well, staying low-key, keeping my camera down by my side out of site when not shooting and not photographing anyone directly (I did try, but was waved off very quickly). Then I turned and saw what I couldn’t resist… two well-dressed American (or European) men lounging at a park bench taking in the atmosphere with a local man parked at the other end. A picture of contrasts, a picture of cross-cultural connection, a picture of… I took the shot. Stood about 12 feet away, side-stepped a few feet for better lighting, the men noticing the intruder in their midst but staying in perfect character with arms draped over the back of the bench, a chin tilting up a bit then “cchhhhh”.

At the time I realized I should have asked a courtesy ‘can I take a photo’ question but was in my ‘South America Photo’ zone and did the dirty deed pretty quickly, afterwards would have been embarrassing walking over to ask if it was ok. I took the low road and wandered off, this time away from the square to hide away in an off-street restaurant for lunch and to think.

When I went through my stash of photos in the evening I checked the shot. Nice, guys looked great – ageing, strong, sexy types with most likely loads of cash – then chose others to publish on the page. Photos – Tarabuco Sunday Market   With my luck, these were two media moguls who may have sued for an unauthorized use of their image. Or something like that & yikes. Little ‘ol me and my little ‘ol website may have gone out of business.

For those who are learning the travel writing and travel photography trade, a good resource is the archives of Travel Writers.com. You can sign-up for free, post questions and have access to much advice from the pros such as proper etiquette (i.e. how not to get sued) when taking photographs. Cheers.




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