At two o’clock Wednesday afternoon, I made my way over to the GAM, Santiago’s cultural center, to meet Cat, my Foto Ruta guide for the afternoon. Immediately, she felt like an old friend, and we talked about travel and photography while waiting for the two other tour participants, Tori and Marcus.
Once they arrived, we were given an overview of our cameras and photography in general, then headed outside to roam free and photograph what we wanted. The GAM was a unique building and the perfect spot to test out our skills. Cat also allowed us to ask for as much help as we needed, which for me was a lot. But, she was incredibly helpful and not once did she make me feel like the camera novice I actually was. Still, I tried my best and had some fun playing with my camera’s settings and shooting from different angles than I was used to.
Eventually, we moved to the small market located outside the GAM, where there would be plenty of objects for us to photograph. Again, try as I might, I was still having difficulty creating the photos I actually wanted. But, this was all new for me, and thinking of photography in this way was just something I was getting used to. Still, it was nice to have Cat there to rely on.
After we all seemed to have exhausted the photographic potential of the mini-market, we were off to Barrio Lastarria, one of my favorite neighborhoods in Santiago. But, it was time to look at the neighborhood in an entirely new way. Sure, I had had lunch in an amazing wine bar, Bocanáriz, the day before, and yes, right before this tour I had coffee at Wonderful Cafe, but it wasn’t until I started taking photos from new angles did I really see the area for what it was.
We watched life go by, trying to find the perfect shot, and examined each building as if looking for some secret to uncover. It was fun to look at the same buildings in different ways.
From here, we walked past Cerro Santa Lucia toward Barrio Bella Artes, and photographed the city along the way. I practiced taking photos of moving objects while keeping the backgrounds still, a feature I had no idea even existed, and we stopped to photograph anything else that caught our eye.
Then, we headed to Mercado Central De Santiago, an area I had toured that morning. Now, all was different, as I was looking at the market as a photographer, at least one that now knew what I was doing. It was also the end of the day and the market was an entirely different place as shops were cleaning up and getting ready to shut down. It all made for beautiful photography.
This was our last stop to photograph, as it was getting late, but before parting ways, we headed to a local watering hole for a drink and discussion of our photos. Now, normally, everyone would head to a nice bar for a glass of wine, however, we convinced Cat that it would be fun to visit La Piojera for their famous terremoto, a drink made with fermented wine, grenadine, and a scoop of pineapple ice cream. The drink’s name translates to earthquake because of the way it makes you feel after you drink it, and it’s a must try for anyone visiting the city.
Without much protest, Cat agreed and we headed on our way to the little bar, where we found a seat at a table with an older couple who has been coming there for years. I relished in the bar’s atmosphere; there were musicians and people dancing, and while it felt like it could have been eleven o’clock on a Saturday night, it was only five thirty on a Wednesday evening.
Still, it was the perfect way to end the tour. We sipped on our terremotos, which were even better than I expected them to be and recapped our time photographing the city. We even shared a few of our favorite shots and encouraged each other, giving positive remarks and comments when necessary.
After my afternoon with Foto Ruta, I began to see Santiago in a whole new light, and appreciate all of its beauty. I was no longer looking at the city as a whole, but piece by piece, detail by detail, which is really what Foto Ruta is all about. Perhaps they are on to something really big, maybe this is truly how we should examine not just Santiago, but all of the world’s great cities.
What to know:
Price: Ranges from $29 to $89 depending on what you are looking for
Tour Length: Four hours
Attire: Comfortable shoes as you will be walking, and remember to dress for the weather, as you will be outside
For More Info: Check out their website and Facebook page for more information.
I was a guest of Foto Ruta on this tour, but it in no way impacted my views. As always, the opinions written here are my own.