In the last four years, I’ve traveled to many parts of this beautiful country and taken some amazing photos. I’ve photographed mighty whales, off the shore of the seaside village of Puerto Lopez, breaching the water. And in the cloud forests of Ecuador’s Andes, I snapped some dazzling pics of the vibrantly colored hummingbirds, zipping to and fro.
But my favorite experience has to be my trip to the Galapagos earlier this year. Not only were there tons of opportunities to take some spectacular wildlife photos, but I also got to meet some of the local people, and formed some real friendships. The people of Ecuador are some of the nicest and most hospitable that you could ever meet. While I was visiting the Galapagos, I was invited to dinner at the home of a family from Santa Cruz Island. I also made friends with one of the staff members from the Charles Darwin Research Station, where you can see the giant tortoises and iguanas bask in the shade.
I took some spectacular shots of the wildlife on my trip—tiny Galapagos penguins playing by the water, blue-footed boobies perched on black, igneous rocks, sea lions frolicking on the docks, and much more. Selling the photos wasn’t hard with subjects like these. The first order came before I had even returned to Cuenca, and today, the photo sales have paid for both the flight and accommodations. For me, not a bad deal.
I enjoyed my time in the Galapagos so much that I booked a return trip in December. To my surprise, when I contacted the owner of the hostel I stayed in last time, he offered me free accommodations in exchange for the use of some of my photos in a new travel brochure. How could I possibly resist?
For me, the best thing about taking photographs isn’t financial, it’s the people that I’ve met and the experiences I’ve shared. I’ve done a lot of work for the Cuenca Symphony Orchestra, shooting their concerts in Cuenca, as well as locations out of town. The trips to the small towns surrounding Cuenca have been a great experience. I get to meet local people and I’m often the only expat in attendance.
Last April, I traveled to Jima, about 30 miles outside of Cuenca, for a special concert at the church there. Recently, I was invited back by the local priest for the Fiesta de Jima and a mass that would be celebrated by the new Archbishop of Cuenca. It was a day of music, great local food, and lots of nice, friendly people. Needless to say, I got a lot of great photos and, after the mass and dinner, was offered a ride back to Cuenca by the Archbishop himself.
For many events like this, I volunteer my services, but I usually make contacts that lead to paying jobs, and I can sell the photos I’ve taken. Taking photographs while living Ecuador has been the perfect way to get to know people, learn about their culture, and also make a little extra cash. At this stage, enjoying what I do is more important than making money, but together they are a great combination.
Image: ©iStock.com/Nancy Nehring
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