Published May 5th, 2011

At the market in Otavalo, Ecuador you're almost assured to encounter people begging for money. It's a tourist hangout with all sorts of Americans and Europeans throwing money around like it's not worth anything. Inspired by Thomas Hawk's $2 portrait project, I decided to try and shoot some of these people.

Many times the Otavalenos seemed reluctant to have their pictures taken, but in most cases the beggars were more than happy for me to take a shot in exchange for a dollar or so (speaking Spanish helps in this situation). I still can't decide whether I was taking advantage of them. I hope not. I hope we both gained something.

This woman grabbed me in the parking lot. Typically the beggars in Otavalo don't say much, but rather just clasp their hands as if they're praying and look at you. Perhaps they just assume, rightly in most cases, that the gringos wouldn't understand their words anyway.

The look on this woman's face in particular grabbed me. She looked sad, as if she'd lost something. It seemed she felt ashamed to ask for money but had no recourse.

Photo taken January 2010
Nikon D50 w/ Tamron 12-24 f/4.0
In my photo stream here: http://500px.com/photo/584932

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