An Intimate, Joyful Look at Daily Life in the Peruvian Andes

Magenet Magenet

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Below, Barreto shares the stories behind a selection of photos from Andinos.

Lucia in Choquecanca, in the Lares region of Peru

Gabriel Barreto Bentín

Vinicunca, also known as the “Rainbow Mountain” in Cusco, has become Instagram famous.

Gabriel Barreto Bentín

“This is Lucia in Choquecancha, which is about six or seven hours away from the city of Cusco. It’s the most remote village I went to, where they had no running water, no phone service, no electricity. We ended up in an evangelical church, and after mass they have this moment where everybody sits around and shares the food that they each brought: potatoes, mote [husked corn kernels]. Lucia was the only one who didn’t want to be photographed, because she said she wasn’t dressed properly. You don’t see it in this photo, but in a full photo in the book you [see] she’s wearing Converse shoes with super typical clothing, and then on top she’s wearing a polar vest. For her, she was utilizing too many different things that didn’t look traditional enough. She finally agreed to take a photo and after 20 seconds, I took [one] photo, and that’s the photo you have there—her walking off set. I was in love with how charming she was.” 

The town of Cuyo Grande in Pisac

Gabriel Barreto Bentín

Sisters Jacqueline and Reina in Cuyo Grande

Gabriel Barreto Bentín

“This is Jacqueline and Reina, in Cuyo Grande in Pisac—the image on the left is the town they are from. Pisac is a more modern town in the Sacred Valley, but Cuyo Grande is about two hours away. You have this sense of community; it’s a communidad campesina, where they share their crops. Jacqueline and Reina would follow us around everywhere, when they weren’t in school, and they would help us translate from Spanish to Quechua, as a lot of the older women in communities we visited only spoke Quechua.” 

Teofilio in Choquecancha, Lares

Gabriel Barreto Bentín

Along the trek to Ausangate, Cusco

Gabriel Barreto Bentín

“Teofilio is not exactly a priest, but he was the one conducting the mass [at the remote village in Choquecancha]. We asked him if is was okay to take some pictures of everybody, because this was our last time [at the church] and we really want to remember everybody that we had spent time with. We started photographing, and about 10 people agreed to participate. 

When we put up the white background they were like, Oh, Gabrielito nos va a tomar nuestros fotos!, [Oh, Gabriel is going to take our photos!] and they were excited about being photographed. Most of these people had never had their portrait taken. They have pictures from their phones, and they have foreigners come and take pictures and try to hide the fact that they’re taking a picture [of them]. It’s different when you take a portrait of someone.” 

Wheat growing in Maras, Cusco

Gabriel Barreto Bentín

Adrian, a musician in Maras, Cusco

Gabriel Barreto Bentín

“This was Adrian. We were in a community in Maras, and one of the days we were there, they did a fair for the mountain of Tiobamba. We were walking around and trying to look for the people that we had actually had relationships with, because we didn’t want to just grab random people—it was really about the relationship building. He was one of the guys in the community who worked a typical agricultural job. When it was time for the fair, he had this perfect suit, tucked away, and he took it out [for the occasion]. He and several others from communities across Maras put on this wonderful performance. I felt like I was in an orchestra in New York. They had such a relationship with these instruments; they are very expensive, and there was a sentiment of attachment.”

Roxana in Maras, Cusco

Gabriel Barreto Bentín

A home on the trek to Ausangate, Cusco

Gabriel Barreto Bentín

“Roxana is one of my favorites. She’s this perfect example of modernity and contemporary living in the Andes. We ran into Roxana, who was the neighbor’s daughter [of the house we were staying in in town]. We had only seen her once before, walking around, but she was in charge of the [family’s] agriculture, and we’d seen her dressed in different clothes. When we saw her in the fair, she looked fabulous. She was living her best life, wearing animal print. The rest of the people [at the fair] were dressed in traditional clothing, because most people in the Andes take out their traditional clothing for these types of occasions, and for religious moments. But Roxana was just completely herself, and I loved seeing that.” 

On the trek toward the mountain of Ausangate

Gabriel Barreto Bentín

Emerson in Cuper Bajo, Chincero

Gabriel Barreto Bentín

“This is Emerson in Cuper Bajo, Chinchero, two hours from the city of Cusco. I just love how Emerson was just casually dressed for a day in the town. That print dress shirt is in no way a traditional dress of the Andes. Emerson was home visiting his mother—he doesn’t actually live where we met him, as he’s already moved out—and we stayed for hours talking with him. He was a big fan of New York City. It was really cool to meet someone in such a personal way that had been raised in an agricultural community like this and had left a couple years ago to live in the city [of Cusco]. 

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