Never pick up a hitchhiker, unless they are holding a hawk…
Prior to my trips I research images, if they exist, from that location. It is interesting how many “iconic images” are taken the same way from the same vantage point. Finding images of the locals (my personal favorite) oftentimes requires digging a little deeper. It is easier, however, to get a unique photo of a person than it is a unique photo of an “iconic image”.
Earlier this year I went on an amazing trip to Peru. The last two stops of the trip were Colca Canyon and Arequipa. During my research I had found a few images of women with pet hawks in Colca Canyon. I was disappointed that in the few days I was Colca Canyon I was unsuccessful at finding any to photograph. Combining my love of people photography with my budding wildlife interests would have been magical.
Imagine my surprise when, in the next town and on the last day of the trip, I see a traditionally dressed woman with a red-backed hawk walking down the road. I was sure that my eyes were deceiving me or that it had to be a mirage. After frantically getting the driver to stop, it turned out that the woman was indeed real and was walking into town to visit her son. She was open to taking some time to be photographed and to take a rest from her long walk.
As I looked around for a nice location to photograph her, I realized that the immediate area offered exactly zero opportunities. No worries, though. After a considerable amount of translation on the part of my guide this sweet lady and her hawk hopped into our minibus and we were off to scout a new location! I may have to write an entire post of what it is like driving around in a minivan with a hawk staring intently at you…
Scouting a new location is tricky with portrait travel photography. If your subject is a landscape or building, you can generally gauge what time of day to come back for the best chance at amazing light. Impromptu models, especially those carrying hawks, require you to take whatever you can get and make due.
Here I was in a minibus just a bit past noon with the bright sun directly overhead. I managed to find a lone tree in a terraced pasture that cast a bit of shade to keep my model and her hawk somewhat comfortable. The shade improved the portraits, but some flash was still needed to overcome the harsh sunlight. I wanted a darker background to allow the duo to shine as the subjects, but how would the bird react? Can you flash a bird? Would PETA jump out of a nearby bush and accuse me of hawk abuse? It was also very hot and getting hotter. My model was in a heavy dress and probably burning up, although she always wore a great smile. The hawk was actually panting!
I kept everyone hydrated (even the hawk) and threw up an Elinchrom Octa Softbox. Suddenly, everything came together. The hawk was curious about the lights, but aside from a few quizzical tilts of its head it was otherwise indifferent. I even managed to capture catch lights in the eyes of hawk and oftentimes my model. It was exhilarating to capture the genuine interaction between the woman and her hawk showcasing the unique bond that they shared.
“Someone To Watch Over Me” Signed Print* on Exhibition Fiber Media
(up to two week delay possible if Susan is traveling)
$15 flat rate domestic shipping & handling
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“Someone To Watch Over Me” Unsigned Print on Exhibition Fiber Media
$15 flat rate domestic shipping & handling
[nicepaypal name=”Someone To Watch Over Me” shipping=”15.00″ type=”buy” option1=”dropprice;size;Print Size: ;17×12.75 Unsigned Exhibition Fiber Print -:150.00;24×18 Unsigned Exhibition Fiber Print -:200.00;30×22.5 Unsigned Exhibition Fiber Print -:250.00″]
Unsigned prints are shipped within 7-10 days.
*Signed prints are limited to 10 of each size.
WOW! Fantastic photo! and wonderful story!!
Me encanta Arequipa…
Thanks for the accompanying narrative Susan. Well done.
Muy buena foto = very nice fhoto. .. I am from peru :-):-):-)
What an awesome story! And such a gorgeous shot! I love it!
Thanks I was soooo happy to find her!
Great story, incredible photo!