“Faces of Tradition: Weaving Elders of the Andes” was a book project done for Thrums Books, Loveland, Colo., and the Center for Traditional Textiles of Cusco, (CTTC) Cusco, Peru. The book was released in November 2013.
Our goal with the book was to portray the various groups of elders from the different indigenous villages in the Cusco area that the Center has established a working relationship with to help save and promote their ancient weaving traditions. These elders are passing on their knowledge to a younger generation so that these villages can then continue to create their beautiful textiles and help provide some income for their weavers and the villages.
We worked in 9 different villages throughout the Andean highlands. Some were near Cusco, and others more then 8 hours away via winding dirt roads. All the villages were between 11,000 and 14,000 feet in altitude. While it was not too hard on equipment, it was at times hard on us. I grew up and live in Colorado and I am used to a higher altitude, but there were days when all of us were dragging and gasping for air.
When we arrived at each village, we would scout locations then set up to photograph the weaving elders from that village. Very few of the villages had electricity and even if they did, it was always a bit iffy. I had been to a few of the villages on another assignment so I knew what to expect. The UNI-400‘s were great for this project. Small and rugged enough, they provided just enough light for what I needed for the portraits. I normally just used one head for the majority of the portrait shots. The Jackrabbit batteries are small enough so they are easily packed, don’t way a ton and can be charged anywhere in the world. On this project I normally shot tethered to a Mac Book Pro, which allowed me to show the elders what they looked like after we finished, and it always was interesting to see the reactions from them. Many had never seen a photo of themselves and were astonished. The comment I most heard was that they didn’t know they looked so old.
I grew up in the foothills of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains of Southern Colorado, near a little town called Weston. My mother was an avid amateur photographer who loved to photograph her family. Her love seems to have rubbed off on me. In 1976, I moved to L.A. to study photography at Art Center College of Design. It was a great time and place for learning, buzzing with experimentation and promise. But there’s something about Colorado that drew me back.
For the last 30 years I’ve been based out of Fort Collins, Colorado. My studio is in an old red brick building which originally housed a neighborhood grocer back in 1912. My wife and I, plus two dogs and four turtles live upstairs. On assignment I’ve been lucky to travel all over the world taking photographs for a lot of terrific clients.