Recently, I decided to do a project. I began documenting my neighbourhood using only my iPhone.
I’ve been living in Ecuador for about nine years now. It’s been a wild ride with sky-high highs, rock-bottom lows and everything in between. I’ve spent a large chunk of my life on the Equator. During my time here, I’ve traveled throughout Ecuador and Latin America working on assignments and projects. I’ve been hopping from country to country, assignment to assignment, always on the go. And just when things started to slow, it was time to go back to California and visit family and friends. Home, in Ecuador, has been a place to rest, regroup, and prepare for the next journey. I had never really stopped to examine how wonderfully funky my home was, until I moved to Rumihuaico.
#Rumihuaico, #Tumbaco and the surrounding #communities
Rumihuaico is a barrio near the city of Tumbaco, and ever too close to Quito. It’s the kind of place where everyone says hello to their neighbour. Walking down the street, you are transported to a far-off time, where little old ladies dry seeds on their patios, men drive by on old rusty tractors, and kids play outside into the night. Just down the road is the city of Tumbaco.
Not too long ago, Tumbaco and the surrounding neighbourhoods were nothing more than vast farmland. In recent years, there has been a mass migration from countryside to cities. With this population shift, Quito has spilled over into the surrounding valleys. What once were agricultural fields, are now parking lots and shopping malls. Foreigners and wealthy Ecuadorians have begun buying large chunks of land and settling up in the hills. Quito’s international airport has been moved down to this valley, leaving Tumbaco smack in between all the incoming flights and Quito. This has heavily increased the traffic and has led to the construction of a super highway that will run through the area.
Despite the exponential growth and the rise of fast-food joints and global pop culture, parts of this area maintain the qualities of a small Ecuadorian pueblo. Tumbaco and the surrounding areas are a perfect example of the old vs. new, chicha vs. diet coke, or cockfights vs. movie theatres. It is a fusion of the old generation and the new generation, a chaotic mixture, which I am a part of. I plan to document my daily journey through this rapidly changing area, and I’m going to do it all with my phone.
Why use my phone? That’s a good question. If I’m investing my time and taking this project seriously, why not use a camera with some major megapixels? I’m taking a chance and this is an experiment. Less than a year ago, I had no idea what instagram was, and I would have laughed at the thought of using my phone for a project. So, why use a phone now?
1) I always have my phone. Whether I’m walking to the local store to buy a beer or driving through the car wash, it’s in my pocket. How many times have I seen a beautiful moment unfold before my eyes and thought, “Shit, my camera’s in the house”! That’s not a problem anymore.
2) It’s less intrusive. I already stand out here. I’m about two feet taller than everyone else. It doesn’t matter what I wear or if I learn the local slang…I’m still the “Gringo”. It’s a lot easier to shoot with a phone without being noticed, especially when you’re doing street photography.
3) It seems appropriate for this story. If this is a story about the old vs. the new, a personal story about my place in this neighborhood, it seems like an interesting idea to use an iPhone. That’s what this story is about, the shift. This includes rapidly changing technology and the digital revolution, which is happening all over the world, including in #Rumihuaico.
4) Mass Communication. This is an amazing opportunity. Because of my connection with National Geographic, I’ve been able to link people back to my instagram feed. I now have 37 thousand people receiving this story on their phones. @Natgeo has 2.4 million followers and @thephotosociety has 114 thousand. Never before have I had the opportunity to share my work and my ideas with so many people!
5) It’s live. People all around the world can watch this project as it develops and comment on it. That’s cool.
(There are plenty of reasons not use my phone for this project, but I’ll save that for another blog)
Thanks so much for checking out this post!
-If you have instagram on your phone, follow this project live @ivankphoto
-Runa now has its own instagram feed: @runa_photos