Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Children of South America

I just uploaded 200 pictures of South American children into six galleries. The first three galleries have the best pictures.
Whether the kids are dirty or clean, you will wish that you could hug them. They will melt your heart. To view them, go to http://pa.photoshelter.com/c/victorenglebert, click on galleries, then on Collections, and finally on Children of South America.
Because the Peru and Colombia galleries have more than 50 pictures, the rest of them are hiding on a second page. Just click on the button at the bottom of the page to see it.
Anyway, hereafter are some sample pictures to titillate your interest.

Other website: http://Victorenglebert.com

Children of South America

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Having mentioned my children’s book, I must add that I have half a dozen others with an agent, all on kids of the developing world. The nationalities of American and European kids can be difficult to guess without some help because of the similarity of their cultures, housing, and dress. But children of Africa, Latin America, and Asia have widely differing cultures and ways of life, at least those who live isolated in deserts, forests, and mountains. And that can make them quite surprising.

I’ll post pictures of some of those other children’s books when I find the time. Meanwhile, you might enjoy viewing the three pictures that follow. They are among my most popular children’s pictures, at least among women, and I have large posters of them available.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Ecuador Cowgirls

My latest project is a children’s book I did on speculation. It’s looking for a publisher. It’s the story of two young sisters working on their family’s cattle ranch on Ecuador’s lowlands during A Time for Horses and during A Time for Canoes.
Horses are traded for canoes when the lowlands get flooded by the torrents rushing down from the Andes Mountains during the rainy season. The full photo story, with captions, can be viewed at www.victorenglebert.com/ChildrensBooks (case sensitive).

Sunday, November 22, 2009

It’s been a while; I know. And I apologize to those who read me. But there’s so little time for everything these days.

Hereafter, find a few pictures of Peru’s pre-Inca Chachapoya ruins. They are part of a recent story I did for Archaeology magazine. Those interested can see many more at a second website I’m working on.(http://pa.photoshelter.com/c/victorenglebert)

To those of you who already saw Machu Picchu and the Inca Sacred Valley I recommend that you travel next time to the Northern part of Peru, to the Amazonas Province, to see the great variety of Chachapoya ruins of ancient cities, fortresses, and mausoleums.

The region itself, including its people, much more often white and mestizo than farther south,
is very attractive too.

Peru: Pre-Inca Chachapoya Ruins

Saturday, September 12, 2009

An Amazing Odyssey

An Amazing Odyssey

In my last blog I told you about Moise, the strong and fearless Cameroonian who punched a drunken chief of police in the face to punish him for ordering me to hand him my photographic equipment. He lives in Spain now, which he entered illegally. He’s been working there for a year. But he just lost his job to the recession.

Moise in December will fly to his native Douala and his wife and five kids. He earned a status that now allows him to fly back to Spain legally. He plans to do so in April, when he hopes to find a new job. Until December he will be paid unemployment. Though it won’t be much, it will be enough for him, living frugally, to add somewhat to his savings. Life is getting very difficult for Africans, and many will do anything to keep their families alive.

To reach Spain, Moise risked his life a couple times. First, Chadian rebels captured him and a few companions, and enslaved them. They taught them the use of firearms to later forcibly enlist them in their ranks. A month later, however, during the Ramadan, when every faithful Moslem must show acts of kindness, the rebels allowed them to resume their cross-Saharan journey.

On the Lybian coast, in the middle of the night to avoid Lybian coast guards, they joined 300 people in what he calls a pirogue, which says enough how unfit it must have been to hold so many people. Hardly out on the Mediterranean Sea, they were caught in a terrifying storm. Enormous waves constantly crashed on them, threatening to overturn and sink the boat. But thanks to every single person helping to bail out the boat, it finally made it past the Strait of Gibraltar and down to Las Palmas, one of the Canary Islands. Fortunately, every passenger was carrying a can for use as an individual urinal.

Five passengers lost their lives to fever along the way. As possible causes, Moise listed the cold, malaria, tuberculosis, and typhus. The ordeal lasted to the end. Italian islands were considerably closer to the Lybian coast, but too well guarded by coast guards. Besides, they are already saturated by unemployed Senegalese. The Canary Islands are apparently a stepping stone for illegal entry into Spain from Africa.

Moise was lucky. In Las Palmas he met a woman who got him a job contract in Spain. One look at him must have told her that this man was for real.


Friday, August 28, 2009

Talking Money with the Cameroon Police

I’m standing on a shabby wooden bridge photographing men in canoes pulling sand from a creek to be later mixed into concrete when five policemen suddenly appear.

“You’re arrested. Give me your cameras and your passport,” the policeman in charge orders. “It’s a crime to photograph bridges.”

“I was not photographing the bridge,” I protest, “only from the bridge.” But they shout that I’m telling lies, and arguing in a loud cacophony that I have compromised Cameroon’s national security. I offer the men to give them my film, but they want my camera equipment as “evidence.”

And so the game begins. I know that in much of Africa the photography of government buildings, airports and bridges is prohibited but this humble bridge could have no strategic value, and I did not photograph it. But I have travelled in West Africa often enough to know that those men couldn’t care less about this bridge. They want money, and how much depends on my wits.

Raymond, my driver, a quiet middle-aged man, keeps prudently to the side but our companion, Moise, enraged at the police, lowers the chorus by repeatedly punching the police chief in the face. Moise is tall, vigorous and short-tempered and puts up such fierce resistance that it takes five policemen several minutes to handcuff him. I watch in disbelief. Then everyone calms down.

We sit down on a couple of benches under a palm roof around the end of the small bridge where the men had been hiding. A strong smell of marijuana permeates the air and the chief uncaps a large bottle of beer. He swallows it in one draft, and throws the empty bottle to the ground next to several others. His eyes, as are those of the other policemen, are bloodshot. For a while nobody talks and I simply wait.

The chief avoids dealing with me directly, though we are sitting only a few paces apart. He uses Moise as the messenger and wants $300 tin exchange for our release.

“Tell him that I want to see a judge,” I tell Moise.

“A judge?” he asks . “Do you want to spend a week behind bars waiting to see one, and then to pay him at least ten times that amount?”

And so Moise goes back and forth between the officer and me. Much of my money is fortunately well hidden, and I keep insisting that I can’t pay even the steadily decreasing amount that the officer would accept.

This lasts for over two hours, and the police is getting more impatient than I am. In the end they settle for the content of my wallet: about $40,00.

That paid, the police return my photographic equipment and passport and release Moise. Now all five men warmly embrace us, including Moise.

“Have a good trip and stay away from police,” they shout as we drive away.


Friday, July 10, 2009

Woodstock Remembered

Back in 1969, I was showing my photographic portfolio to Business Week’s photo editor when he said,
“Would you like to photograph a rock concert? It will take place tomorrow in Bethel, New York.”

I had never photographed rock concerts. I didn’t even have a clear idea of what a rock concert was. I photographed mostly wild people in wild environments, from deserts to rain forests, for such magazines as National Geographic. But I never turned down an assignment. I did the right thing, for at Woodstock I would photograph wild people too.

I realized that as soon as I arrived, driven by the writer who would report for Business Week. We found the traffic backed up some nine or ten miles. Young people crowded over vehicles that included psychedelically painted buses and vans, none of which were moving anymore. There was no way of knowing how long they would be stranded, and so I got out of the car to start shooting. I told the writer that I would be back soon.

The traffic did not move another inch for the rest of the August-15-to-18 extended week end. And I could not find the car and the writer again. My luggage, which included much of my film, would unfortunately remain out of my reach the whole time. So I spent the next four days carrying nothing more than a small camera bag with only a few rolls of black-and-white film--what Business Week had asked me to use. This forced me to think at least twice before shooting a picture, lest I would run out of film before the end.

Now, 40 years later, and though I must be one of the few who was not touching marijuana, I can’t remember some things, as for example where and how I slept during those few nights, even though the driving rainstorms should have made the memory indelible. But then, with so many memorable experiences cramming my small brain, this one may just not have found room enough for itself.

But I do remember how ill-equipped I was for this particular adventure. I carried no tent, no sleeping bag or blanket, no jacket, nor even a sweater. In the rain forests of the Amazon and Borneo I had always been able at least to change into dry clothes at the end of the day. And at night I had thrown a sheet of plastic over my hammock. But at Woodstock, day and night, for much of the four days, I had to walk around and sleep in soaking wet shirt and pants and muddy shoes. And it was cold at night. I did not eat much either, considering the little food there was, and the long lines outside the makeshift stands.

But what an amazing spirit there was. How contagious love was. The kids called me “brother” and asked me to smoke pot with them. And then there was the music, nearly non-stop. These were other times. Few people were overweight. No children were.

Thanks to my photographs there are things that I remember more clearly. Santana’s band, for example, though not the many other musicians, as I focused my attention on the mind-boggling crowd. The hundreds of thousands of young men and women whose faces radiated sometimes as if they had just seen Jesus Christ himself. The stoned naked man who hung high on a music tower to better expose himself. The sleepers packed like sardines at night. The restless men who kicked the sleepers’ shoes away from them as they walked around. And then, in the morning after a night’s rain, the kids who kept sleeping as if this could save them from dealing with the mud baths into which they had been slowly sinking (hundreds abandoned their blankets and sleeping bags stuck under the mud). And the many who at the end were forced to walk back shoeless to their cars.

I had not been a fan of hippies. I had seen them living sloppily on one or two dollars a day in places like Marrakesh. But they understood the futility, injustice, and cruelty of war. They knew that you could not buy happiness with money. They lived with open arms. At Woodstock I started seeing them differently. And now that greed has plunged the world into misery, I can’t help thinking that we were better off with the hippies. At least they owned some truths. And they were much better people than the financial predators that left us with an uncertain future.