San Cristóbal Markets
One of the most interesting stops for photos on a photo tour, regardless of the country, are the local markets. Markets, craft or food, are wonderful examples of local life and culture. Our Chiapas Photo Tours will visit several markets, both in the beautiful colonial city of San Cristóbal de las Casas and in several indigenous villages outside of the city.
How do we photograph markets without offending or angering people? Most of the time, we talk to the people, we ask questions or we will buy what they are selling. Then, the next step is to ask to take a photo. Perhaps you ask to take a photo of their produce or their products. Maybe you ask if you can do a photo of the two of you together – a selfie?? These tricks might break the ice enough where you can make a nice portrait or make a photo of them selling to others.
It’s all about your attitude. Don’t be overbearing and aggressive. Do be gentle and respectful and definitely take a “no” gracefully. Thank them and move along. In most busy markets, you are taking up space and blocking customers from accessing their space and possibly having a negative impact on their business. Never forget you are a guest on their turf and in their country. You have walked into their place of business and you should act accordingly. How would you feel if they walked into your office or store and started taking photos of you while you were at work?
Sometimes, we do see a nice candid image of people who are busy interacting with another and we will shoot quickly and be unobtrusive.
We always visit markets on our photo tours, but we think of them more as places to get a feel for the local culture, as opposed to being locations with tons of great photos. From our perspective, it’s hard to get great photos at markets, and we would bet that the best photos happen because the photographer interacted with the person, instead of shooting from the hip.