Our World in a Still Frame

The cities that many of us now live in are a cornucopia of hidden travel treasures just waiting to be photographed.

It was just 2011 when the photography adventure enterprise Foto Ruta was founded in Buenos Aires, a city teaming with hidden treasures, by two adventurers, one following her wanderlust to broaden her horizons, and the other looking for a change of scenery; both meeting at a photography shoot. In just a few years Becky Hayes and Joss Mandryk have expanded their passion from Buenos Aires to London, Barcelona and Santiago.

Each of the three cities play host to many hidden gems which would ordinarily be ignored by everyday tourists. By accompanying highly experienced and equally passionate city experts both amateur and professional photography connoisseurs will have their eyes opened to the cities that they are visiting, open to the sights and people all around them, and will find themselves more present in the moment. Photography can become a creative outlet for everyone, and an adventure unlike any other.

“Foto Ruta always looks for cities with lots of cultural diversity and street culture. We embrace urban grit as much as we do classic beauty, and if a city has both of these alongside one another, all the better.” – Becky Hayes

Contrasting London

One of the world’s great cities, and with history dating back millennia, Britain’s capital is a treasure trove of neighbourhoods worthy of digging deeper. Why just walk across a bridge when you could pause and realise that in the back ground you have an abundance of individually dressed locals and St Paul’s Cathedral? Why ignore two businessmen talking outside of a wine bar when you could photograph them as their smart black suits contrast with the dirty brown bricks behind? It is easy to forget about London’s off-the-beaten-track neighbourhoods when you are running from one well-trodden photography hotspot to another.

Throughout Shoreditch, in London’s working class East End, unique graffiti covered shipping containers lie side-by-side with up and coming trendy restaurants and crumbling historic architectural masterpieces. Nowhere is it possible to see the remnants of Empire and gleaming glass towers glinting in the midday sunlight. Walking down Brick Lane is often a chore before reaching one of the many tantalising Indian restaurants, but with a camera it doesn’t have to be a chore at all. Photographers could snap away at anything and everything and in the pile of photographs there will undoubtedly be a unique shot that would not have been found from one of the tourist hotspots. London is a melting pot of cultures and ethnicities all blending together; the genuine locals of London. Visitors to London can make the city into anything they want it to be.

When in London there is no reason to ignore the everyday; focus more on the usual and less on the unusual.

Lost in BA

Buenos Aires has a popular tourist trail, but armed with a camera and a list of clues visitors will not be following the crowds to the usual boring places, they will be creating their own adventure in this city of skyscrapers and slums. Secret alleyways lead to unexplored neighbourhoods seemingly lost in time; towering housing blocks cast shadows over the shanty towns littering the streets; and the people create a culture unlike anywhere else in the world.

Everyone interprets a phrase differently, so when Foto Ruta give out clues to photographers the vast array of contrasting photographs that return is astounding. Brightly coloured garage doors hidden away in a dark passage, or tree leaves that have fallen over a café canopy, Buenos Aires is best seen from the less well known areas. Why follow the crowds when the crowds don’t know about the radical slogans adorned across buildings or sun scorched trees blocking the sun in the settlements surrounding the everyday guidebook sights?

An adventure in Buenos Aires could simply be photographing a family in a working class neighbourhood, but the photographs make for memories that last longer than the familiar Obelisco.

Forgotten Santiago

As you walk and snap away at the sights along Santiago’s main street of Alameda, it is an eye-opening experience to walk down a side street and explore the grubby roads torn by potholes and abandoned buildings (apart from a family of stray cats) in the forgotten community of Plaza Brasil. Let your imagination take you away and photograph anything that you can find, be it a bustling local pub or street art reminiscing about former dictator Pinochet, there is nothing off limits when you have a camera.

A hotspot for Spanish colonial architecture and fascinating photographic treats, Santiago from a photographer’s perspective is a real treat. Brightly dressed locals and European backpackers walk side-by-side along the cobbled streets making for a unique photo opportunity, don’t your surroundings pass you by.

Without an abundance of world-class attractions Santiago, Chile is often ignored by visitors to the Americas, but when you have a camera your adventure is not complete without a stop-off in the photogenic capital.

Medieval Barcelona

El Born in Barcelona’s medieval heart and the city-wide views available from the surrounding hilltops offer some of the most photogenic sights in the whole of Spain and should not be missed when in Barcelona. Stop and photograph children playing in the dirt of a backstreet neighbourhood, or a motorbike propped against a wilting tree, or a dog chasing a cat through narrow alleyways. Barcelona offers photo opportunities abound.

Leave the “auto” mode on your camera and point it at anything that catches your eye. Don’t spend time thinking or your perfect shot may disappear. React to changing light shining through the former Berber hangouts and try to keep your excitement about what unusual things you have captured throughout your city adventure under wraps.

A photograph can tell a million stories; so the more unique and different a photo the better. Foto Ruta’s photography tours are unlike anything else out there, and the cities chosen by Becky and Joss were chosen because of the abundance of unlikely photographic experiences available. Remember to take a camera and never let your finger off the shutter button. Who knows what the next photo will be?

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