Stories from northern Nicaragua | NGO Photographer

Photography assignment for NGO in Nicaragua.

Recently I have traveled with Fabretto Children’s Foundation to the northern Nicaraguan frontier to document different life stories of families from that region. Some places I visited where quite remote, hidden in the mountains and valleys, without an easy access route. And this time I took with me some of my ‘big guns’. What I mean by this is studio lighting was travelling with me, more specifically, on my back (soft boxes, studio lamps, tripods, batteries and all that necessary heavy stuff).  

I tried to portray stories of hardworking and proud people that move their life forward to better future, regardless of the circumstances. Children, youth, parents, teachers, the entire comunities take this effort, despite difficult conditions.

 The 19-year-old Ever has always had a connection and passion for bees. Trough education he developed entrepreneurial skills, which prompted him to organize a honey cooperative with other young people.

The 19-year-old Ever has always had a connection and passion for bees. Trough education he developed entrepreneurial skills, which prompted him to organize a honey cooperative with other young people.

 Ever says that the bees have taught him a lot on how to work together for the good of the whole community.

Ever says that the bees have taught him a lot on how to work together for the good of the whole community.

 How old does Maria look like?  Due to severe pneumonia during early childhood and sustained poor nutrition María has suffered a serious delay in her physical and educational development. At 14 years old, she is currently in 5th grade. When asked how she imagines her life when she grows up, María responded:  “when I grow older, I want to travel the world and become a great teacher.”

How old does Maria look like?

Due to severe pneumonia during early childhood and sustained poor nutrition María has suffered a serious delay in her physical and educational development. At 14 years old, she is currently in 5th grade. When asked how she imagines her life when she grows up, María responded: “when I grow older, I want to travel the world and become a great teacher.”

 Maria with her mother and her siblings on the bank of a river near her house, the place where she likes to read and learn.

Maria with her mother and her siblings on the bank of a river near her house, the place where she likes to read and learn.

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 27-years old Yolanda, surrounded by her students, is the local preschool teacher. Due to a lack of space and resources, the Ministry of Education has not yet opened a formal preschool teaching position in Apanaje community. Instead, educators like Yolanda are asked to step up to the plate as volunteers, earning a stipend equivalent to only a fraction of the minimum wage.

27-years old Yolanda, surrounded by her students, is the local preschool teacher. Due to a lack of space and resources, the Ministry of Education has not yet opened a formal preschool teaching position in Apanaje community. Instead, educators like Yolanda are asked to step up to the plate as volunteers, earning a stipend equivalent to only a fraction of the minimum wage.

 Come rain or shine, the preschoolers and their brave teacher can be found in the school hallway or yard.

Come rain or shine, the preschoolers and their brave teacher can be found in the school hallway or yard.

 "Starting with something as simple as teaching children to hold a pencil, I know that I am helping them start their education off on the right foot.” claims Yolanda.

"Starting with something as simple as teaching children to hold a pencil, I know that I am helping them start their education off on the right foot.” claims Yolanda.

 Doña Petrona and Don Jacobo are a farming couple that lives at the foothills of the San Cristóbal volcano. The couple makes a living out of producing basic grains. “Women in my community are not used to working alongside men… that’s why they call me crazy, but I’ve gotten something good out of this madness,”  In the most of Latin American countries machismo is a great challenge. 

Doña Petrona and Don Jacobo are a farming couple that lives at the foothills of the San Cristóbal volcano. The couple makes a living out of producing basic grains. “Women in my community are not used to working alongside men… that’s why they call me crazy, but I’ve gotten something good out of this madness,”  In the most of Latin American countries machismo is a great challenge. 

 The couple has had to face the catastrophic effects of climate change, such as drought, pests,  La Niña  weather conditions, among other drawbacks.

The couple has had to face the catastrophic effects of climate change, such as drought, pests, La Niña weather conditions, among other drawbacks.

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 On our way to Maria's house. After all, travelling with a lot of equipment is not a big deal if you are accompanied with right people. 

On our way to Maria's house. After all, travelling with a lot of equipment is not a big deal if you are accompanied with right people. 

 5 am. The wind appeared to be brutal that day. My friends from Fabretto Marketing Team struggling against heavy gusts of wind while helping me to sustain the lights. Thanks girls!! 

5 am. The wind appeared to be brutal that day. My friends from Fabretto Marketing Team struggling against heavy gusts of wind while helping me to sustain the lights. Thanks girls!! 

 

My Photography illustrate Fabretto 2017 Annual Report.
You can see the entire document below:

Nicaragua Beach Wedding, Robert & Grace

Nicaragua coast Wedding Photography | Robert & Grace

The Tola Region is one of my favorites areas in Nicaragua. Gorgeous beaches, tranquility, and salt in the air. Robert and Grace fell in love with this place, like I once had, and had chosen this spectacular scenery to be their wedding venue. They also told me they wanted to share its beauty with their loved ones. The ceremony took place right on the Popoyo beach next to an impressive rock formation called the ‘Magnific Rock’. The reception dinner and party were held in the hotel above accompanied by live music. A beautiful, intimate and relaxed ceremony filled with love.

 Surfing in Popoyo Nicaragua
 Beach wedding venue decoration Nicaragua.
wedding venue decoration nicaragua
 Wedding decoration in Nicaragua
Magnific Rock
surfers
Groom getting ready
 Getting ready for the wedding
Grace bride
 Mother of the bride before the wedding ceremony Nicaragua.
bride portrait Nicaragua
 Mother helping the bride before her beach wedding. Popoyo, Nicaragua
 Wedding that took place in Popoyo Nicaragua
 Beach wedding Nicaragua
 Father walks bride to the altar Nicaragua
 Beach wedding venue that took place in Popoyo, Nicaragua. Photography: Kuba Okon
 Newlyweds Nicaragua beach wedding photography
Bride Nicaragua wedding venue
 One of the most beautiful wedding venues in Nicaragua
wedding portrait nicaragua
Nicaragua Wedding photographer
mother of the bride
getting married
 Groom wipes bride's tears in ceremony that took place in Popoyo beach Nicaragua 
wedding rings
 Beautiful beach wedding in Nicaragua.   
wedding guest
Happy newlyweds
 Family portrait.  Nicaragua destination wedding photography
Guests wedding
Magnific rock wedding
wedding dress
parents nica wedding
nica wedding
beautiful bride
 Destination wedding photography in Nicaragua. Newlyweds posing for photography in Popoyo Beach,
Magnific rock
Nicaragua beach landscape
Nicaragua wedding photography
Bride and groom Nicaragua
Bridesmaid
Parents of the bride
Wedding dress Nicaragua beach
Tola wedding nicaragua
wedding surf
Nicaragua sunset
 Beach wedding venue Nicaragua
Magnific rock wedding Kiss
Wedding kiss
 Looking towards the horizon. Nicaragua beach wedding photography
flowers and rocks
Grace and Rob wedding
Mag rock
wedding venue tola popoyo
wedding dinner nicaragua
 Groom and his mother performing the first dance. 
first dance
Live band Wedding Nicaragua
 Wedding Party that took place in Magnific rock Nicaragua.
 Magnific rock landscape

Nicaragua Elopement Wedding

Megan & Aquil | Aqua Nicaragua | Destination Wedding Photography

Nicaraguan beaches are spectacular - ocean, sand, waves crashing onto rock formations, all surrounded by tropical forests. Megan and Aquil have chosen these surroundings for their intimate destination wedding. Simple and beautiful. It was a pleasure, honor as well as fun for me to photograph them.

 Wedding in Aqua Nicaragua
Aqua Nicaragua howler Monkey
 Preparing for wedding in Aqua Nicaragua
Detail Wedding
 Make-up for destination wedding Nicaragua
Bride make-up
 The bride getting ready for her destination wedding in Nicaragua
Bride Nicaragua Wedding
Aquil
Groom getting ready
 Groom getting ready for elopement wedding in Nicaragua
Nica Wedding Aquil
 Bride and groom destination wedding Nicaragua
rings
 Wedding dress in Nicaragua
 Megan, the Bride at Nicaragua destination wedding. 
 Wedding photography in Nicaragua
 Wedding dress details
 Elopement that took place in Aqua Nicaragua
 Wedding that took place at nicaraguan beach
Groom photography
 Elopement wedding in Nicaragua
 Destination beach wedding of Megan and Aquil that took place in Aqua Nicaragua
 Photographing the destination wedding in Nicaragua
 Megan and Aquil getting married in Nicaragua
 Holding theirs hands
 Bride at the beach in Aqua Nicaragua. Wedding photography. 
 Best beach wedding venues in Nicaragua
 Newly married walking down the beach in Nicaragua. Best wedding photography. 
 Megan and Aquil walking down the beach after their wedding in Aqua Resort Nicaragua
beach Nicaragua
Nicaragua wedding
 Beach wedding photography in Nicaragua
Megan Aquil champaign
 Best destination wedding venues in Nicaragua
Meganaquil
 Nicaragua wedding venue - Aqua Nicaragua
 Best wedding venues in Nicaragua

San Blas Islands - Photography Blog

 San Blas Islands

San Blas Islands

SAN BLAS ISLANDS PHOTOGRAPHY AND TRAVEL

Island hopping in Kuna Yala.

In January my friend Tomek was visiting Central America. I picked him up from San Jose Airport and then we travelled across Costa Rica, Panama and of course Nicaragua. One of the destinations, I haven’t visited yet, that I considered interesting was located in the Northwestern part of the Panama archipelago of islands called San Blas. The archipelago is comprised of more than 360 islands that are scattered around, 49 of which are inhabited. As you can imagine when thinking of the Caribbean Islands, they have it all: blue skies, pristine white sands, clear turquoise water, and coconut palm trees. However, what really drew my attention is that San Blas is an autonomous territory (also called Kuna Yala) ruled by the indigenous tribe of KUNA (also referred to as Guna) people. They preserve their unique cultural heritage, have their own laws and customs, and they control tourism on their own terms. They also speak their own language called Tulekaya which, what is interesting, is only written phonetically; they do not have their own alphabet or written language.

To get to San Blas we left Panama City early in the morning in a 4x4 jeep. The ride is around 3 hours long including one hour of crossing the jungle. The views on the way are spectacular - lush vegetation, huge trees, hills and valleys, a real glimpse of what the jungle looks like. The road is super curvy, going up and down all the time, and even though it has been recently paved, it is still a challenge to get across. Arriving at Porvenir we had to cross the border, pass passport control and pay the Kuna entrance fee (20 dollars). Then we took lancha (motor boat), which was our main mode of transportation from then on. This is where the real fun began. You could see the water changing its color from yellowish to deep blue and finally reaching clear turquoise.  There are basically two rules while using lancha which I’ve learned them from my previous travels: (1) if you sit in the front it is going to be a bumpy ride and (2) if you sit in the back or on the side you might get wet. So I chose the bumpy version, mainly because I wanted to have a better view for taking photos and I didn’t want my photo equipment to get wet. After one hour we reached a small island, inhabited by two Kuna families, which was our destination and home for next few days.

Kuna people are quite timid, generally friendly, but sensitive to having their pictures taken. Kuna women wear their colorful traditional clothes (hand-stitched molas, scarves, beadwork worn on their arms and legs) while most of the men tend to wear regular shorts, T-shirts and baseball caps. They live mostly off of fishing, tourism and trade. I was told that taking photos of Kuna women is not permitted, unless they agree. Kunas, especially those in areas frequented by tourists, will often ask for $1 to have their photo taken, which feels a bit awkward. It’s also prohibited to pick up coconuts on your own. This is understandable considering the amount of tourists passing through. At the end of the day these islands are in fact home to the Kunas. San Blas is also a popular stop for travelers sailing from Panama to Columbia, and vice versa, that want to avoid Darién’s Gap on their way to South America.

All the time we spent in San Blas we were completely disconnected from the mainland - no internet, no cellphone signal, just us on the tiny Island surrounded by clear seas. Every day we were island hopping and visiting new destinations. In general, San Blas offers a stunning diversity of cays, from small tiny oases that are completely uninhabited to relatively big ones inhabited by large communities. Also, I sailed through the Caribbean Sea during a pitch black night for the very first time on this trip. Reaching the shore you could see marine creatures emitting light (bioluminescence) when agitated - magical to say the least. In fact, you can find coral reef surrounding almost every island, so snorkeling is quite an experience as well.

If you want to go to San Blas you can contact MAMALLENA hostel that will help you organize your trip, and put you in contact with the Kuna host.

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 My friend Tomek covered in warm, morning, sun. We left Panama City at 4 am.. 

My friend Tomek covered in warm, morning, sun. We left Panama City at 4 am.. 

 Well, that's me, my camera bag and my first morning coffee. 

Well, that's me, my camera bag and my first morning coffee. 

  Glimpse of the jungle on the way to San Blas

 Glimpse of the jungle on the way to San Blas

 Carti Port, Kuna Yala.

Carti Port, Kuna Yala.

 Lancha ride.

Lancha ride.

 That was our home for a few nights. San Blas

That was our home for a few nights. San Blas

 Kuna Kids san blas
 Boats that sail from Panama to Colombia (and vice versa) on their stop in San Blas.

Boats that sail from Panama to Colombia (and vice versa) on their stop in San Blas.

 San Blas paradise cay island
 Kuna's people laundry. 

Kuna's people laundry. 

 kuna woman photography clothes
 Kuna fabric and tropical island on San Blas
 Famous Molas - Hand sewn panels that make up the front and back of a Kuna woman’s traditional blouse.A traditional Mola is made of several layers of cotton fabric.

Famous Molas - Hand sewn panels that make up the front and back of a Kuna woman’s traditional blouse.A traditional Mola is made of several layers of cotton fabric.

 Kuna people on San Blas
 Kuna woman snorking with kid on her back. San Blas
 Starfish in the swimming pool on San Blas
 Kuna woman splitting a Coconut 
 Coconut for 2$. San Blas
 Coconuts in Kuna Yala Island
 Kuna Captain and paradise islands. San Blas.
 Colors of San Blas islands.

Colors of San Blas islands.

 Kuna people fishing from Kanoo
 Coco Blanco. San Blas
 San Blas beach chill
 Menu is quite similar to other Central American regions. Variation of rice, fish or other sea food and plantains. 

Menu is quite similar to other Central American regions. Variation of rice, fish or other sea food and plantains. 

tomek reading in Coco Blanco Island
 San Blas paradise sunrise photography
 Cooperation - Navigate, repel, pump out the water and row.

Cooperation - Navigate, repel, pump out the water and row.

 Kuna girl playing with a doll on San Blas Island
 Playing games at night accompanied by a big bottle of panamanian rum - "Abuelo" - which I personally find delicious.

Playing games at night accompanied by a big bottle of panamanian rum - "Abuelo" - which I personally find delicious.

 San Blas island night photography. Stars tents and palm trees
 San Blas camprife at night