Peru Snow Star portraits

Peru Snow Star portraits

One by one, Associated Press photographer Rodrigo Abd positioned the traditional dancers, musicians and vendors in front of an old-fashioned box camera in Peru’s Sinakara Valley as a colorful Andean festival exploded all around them. 

In this June 12, 2017 photo, Ivan Flores, 30, poses for a portrait in the Sinakara Valley, in Peru's Cusco region, during the Qoyllur Rit’i festival, translated from the Quechua language as Snow Star. Ivan represents "La Emilia", a man that is dressed as a woman in order to carry woods hidden under the skirt while dancing as part of the Tahuantinsuyo nation during the Qoyllur Rit'i festival.  (AP Photo/Rodrigo Abd)

In this June 12, 2017 photo, Alexio Marveli, 20, poses for a portrait in the Sinakara Valley, in Peru's Cusco region, during the Qoyllur Rit’i festival, translated from the Quechua language as Snow Star. Alexis is dressed as the a mystical character, "El Auqui", described as a wise old man and protector.  (AP Photo/Rodrigo Abd)

The men, women and children were among the tens of thousands of pilgrims representing some eight nations who came to this sacred place in Quispicanchis province in Peru's Cuzco region for the annual Snow Star Festival, shortly before this year’s Christian feast of Corpus Christi.

After their portraits were made, the subjects spoke proudly of the ancient beliefs and rituals they keep alive in the 21st Century.

In this June 12, 2017 photo, Aldo Machaca Quispe, 33, and his six-year-old son Brandon Machaca Vargas, pose for a portrait in the Sinakara Valley, in Peru's Cusco region, during the Qoyllur Rit’i festival, translated from the Quechua language as Snow Star. Aldo and his son Brandon dance as part of the Quispicanchis nation. (AP Photo/Rodrigo Abd)

“I’m proud to be another soldier for the Lord of Qoyllur Rit'i,” said 33-year-old Aldo Machaca Quispe, referring to the image of Jesus Christ venerated in the region. He sat for a portrait with his son Brandon, 6, and said he hoped to pass down his traditions to the boy.

Last year, Abd, an Argentine native, used digital camera equipment to photograph the three-day festival that also coincides with the reappearance of the star cluster Pleiades in the Southern Hemisphere, signaling the abundance of the harvest season.

In this June 13, 2017 photo, Sebastiana Jara poses for a portrait in the Sinakara Valley, in Peru's Cusco region, during the Qoyllur Rit’i festival, translated from the Quechua language as Snow Star. Sebastiana sells handicrafts and typical fabrics from Cusco region at the festival. (AP Photo/Rodrigo Abd)

In this June 12, 2017 photo, contract musician Eulogio Quispe Chalco, 54, poses for a portrait with his Peruvian harp, in the Sinakara Valley, in Peru's Cusco region, during the Qoyllur Rit’i festival, translated from the Quechua language as Snow Star. The Peruvian variation of the harp has no peddles. (AP Photo/Rodrigo Abd)

But this year, he thought it would be interesting to bring his old-fashioned box camera, a primitive device built of wood and modeled on ones he first saw photographers using to take portraits in Afghanistan while on assignment there in 2006.  

With a lens and space for a developing lab inside, the box camera uses 19th-century technology to produce luminous, black and white images.

In this June 13, 2017 photo, Jose Carlos Cahuana, 9, dressed as a character known as “Majeno” poses for a portrait in the Sinakara Valley, in Peru's Cusco region, during the Qoyllur Rit’i festival, translated from the Quechua language as Snow Star. “Majenos” are based on aguardiente vendors from the Majes-Arequipa region, depicted as plump, good-natured, big spenders. (AP Photo/Rodrigo Abd)

“The idea of making portraits with my wooden camera of the pilgrims ... was beguiling,” Abd said of the project. “But once on the ground, the project also represented an enormous logistical complexity.”

Not only did he need to transport the heavy camera, but also its tripod, black cloths to make a photo studio, processing chemicals, along with his own tent, everyone’s coats, along with his own digital cameras through heights reaching some 4,500 meters and freezing temperatures falling as low as 39 degrees Fahrenheit (4 degrees Celsius).

In this June 13, 2017 photo, Edison Olgado, 23, poses for a portrait in the Sinakara Valley, in Peru's Cusco region, during the Qoyllur Rit’i festival, translated from the Quechua language as Snow Star. Edison is a dancer representing the Quispicanchis nation. (AP Photo/Rodrigo Abd)

In this June 12, 2017 photo, Rudy Espiriya and his three-year-old son Dayiro Tahuara, pose for a portrait in the Sinakara Valley, in Peru's Cusco region, during the Qoyllur Rit’i festival, translated from the Quechua language as Snow Star. Rudy and Dayiro  perform a dance called Paapuri Guayri as part of the Paucartambo nation. (AP Photo/Rodrigo Abd)

In this June 12, 2017 photo, Nelida Soto Salazar, 21, poses for a portrait in the Sinakara Valley, in Peru's Cusco region, during the Qoyllur Rit’i festival, translated from the Quechua language as Snow Star. Nelida, who represents the Tahuantinsuyo nation, performs in a dance called "Chunchaca" which venerates Our Lady of Mount Carmel, known locally as Mamacha Carmen. (AP Photo/Rodrigo Abd)

Abd’s camera and related equipment were brought to the valley on three of a group of pack horses carrying in supplies to the area set amid a snow-capped mountain range long adored by the Quechua people.

Along with two assistants, Victor Zea and Ignacio Gonzalez Vigil, we set off on a 4-mile (8-kilometer) trek from the town of Mahuayani, Cusco, toward the plains where thousands of pilgrims camped out.

360 Video: Thousands of pilgrims gathered for the annual Snow Star festival in the Sinakara Valley at the base of the Qullqip'unqu mountain in the Andes. 

Inscribed on UNESCO'S Intangible Cultural Heritage list, the Peruvian festival features a pilgrimage by local people to the sanctuary where a boulder features an image of Jesus Christ known as the Lord of Qoyllur Rit'i (pronounced KOL-yer REE-chee), or Snow Star in the Quechua language.

During the recent Andean festival, the people in colorful indigenous costumes, some wearing masks, others holding their Peruvian harps or other musical instruments, sit still for up to two minutes as Abd made exposures with light shining from the lens onto photo paper inside the box. 

In this June 12, 2017 photo, Roger Barrios Sapa poses for a portrait in the Sinakara Valley, in Peru's Cusco region, during the Qoyllur Rit’i festival, translated from the Quechua language as Snow Star. Roger is a dancer representing the Acomayo nation. (AP Photo/Rodrigo Abd)

In this June 12, 2017 photo, Filament Wilca Soto, 54, his daughter Laura Wilca Quispe, 23, pose for a portrait in the Sinakara Valley, in Peru's Cusco region, during the Qoyllur Rit’i festival, translated from the Quechua language as Snow Star. Filament and Laura are violinists representing the Quispicanchis nation. (AP Photo/Rodrigo Abd)

Abd produced negative prints of each picture by passing the photo paper through developer and fixer sloshing inside the box. The negative prints were then hung with plastic clothespins to dry in the Andean air. 

With each one, the process was later repeated to make a positive print.

The result was a series of stunning images of people from ancient tribes, in traditional garb little known in the modern world outside the Peruvian Andes.

For dancer Guido Yupaniki Cereceda, worship of the Lord through the festival “is very meaningful for the Andean world. He’s God and love for all of us.”

In this June 13, 2017 photo, Justino Quispe Quispe, 78, poses for a portrait in the Sinakara Valley, in Peru's Cusco region, during the Qoyllur Rit’i festival, translated from the Quechua language as Snow Star. Justino is a dancer in the "Comparsa Runa Canchi" (AP Photo/Rodrigo Abd)

In this June 12, 2017 photo, Nelida Soto Salazar, 21, poses for a portrait in the Sinakara Valley, in Peru's Cusco region, during the Qoyllur Rit’i festival, translated from the Quechua language as Snow Star. Nelida, who represents the Tahuantinsuyo nation, performs in a dance called "Chunchaca" which venerates Our Lady of Mount Carmel, known locally as Mamacha Carmen. (AP Photo/Rodrigo Abd)

In this June 12, 2017 photo, Fabio Luis Calancha Suliaga, 19, dressed as a half-bear, half-man creature known as a ukuku, poses for a portrait in the Sinakara Valley, in Peru's Cusco region, during the Qoyllur Rit’i festival, translated from the Quechua language as Snow Star. Fabio represents the Tahuantinsuyo nation. Although ukukus are tricksters who play pranks on the pilgrims they also maintain order and are the only ones allowed up to the sacred Qullqip’unqu mountain’s glacier. (AP Photo/Rodrigo Abd)

In this June 12, 2017 photo, Jefferson Valdivia Zanabria, 22, poses for a portrait in the Sinakara Valley, in Peru's Cusco region, during the Qoyllur Rit’i festival, translated from the Quechua language as Snow Star. Jefferson, who represents the women who do not care for housework.  Quispicanchis nation, performs a dance called "Mal Genio", or "Bad-tempered". The dance lampoons women who do not care for housework.(AP Photo/Rodrigo Abd)

In this June 11, 2017 photo, Jean Marco Valverde, 12, poses for a portrait in the Sinakara Valley, in Peru's Cusco region, during the Qoyllur Rit’i festival, translated from the Quechua language as Snow Star. Jean Marco, who represents the Paruro nation, takes on the role of a soldier in his dance performances. (AP Photo/Rodrigo Abd)

In this June 12, 2017 photo, Porfirio Quispe Huaman, 32, poses for the portrait in the Sinakara Valley, in Peru's Cusco region, during the Qoyllur Rit’i festival, translated from the Quechua language as Snow Star. Porfirio dances as part of the Paruro nation. (AP Photo/Rodrigo Abd)

In this June 13, 2017 photo, Guido Yupanki Cereceda, 19, poses for a portrait in the Sinakara Valley, in Peru's Cusco region, during the Qoyllur Rit’i festival, translated from the Quechua language as Snow Star. Guido is a dancer representing the Tahuantinsuyo nation. (AP Photo/Rodrigo Abd)


 

Video: Behind the scenes with AP photographer Rodrigo Abd as he used 19th-century photographic technology to make portraits of traditional dancers, musicians and vendors on the edges of a popular Andean festival in Peru’s Sinakara Valley. 

 

Text from the AP news story, AP photographer uses box camera for Peru festival portraits

Photos and Video Footage by Rodrigo Abd

Rodrigo Abd on Instagram

Video Editing by Dario Lopez-Mills & Claudio Prat

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