One day, Bogota-based photographer Jorge Oviedo received a call from his good friend about an opportunity to photograph a group of Gauchos from Argentina. Ever since studying photography in Buenos Aires, Jorge has been fascinated by Gaucho culture, so he was surprised and delighted to get the call. Shortly after that, Jorge packed up his photo gear and boarded a plane to Chascomus, Argentina. He had wanted to photograph Gauchos for ten years and was finally getting his wish!
What are Gauchos you might ask? They’re essentially the Argentinian version of US cowboys, except that Gauchos have been roaming the grassy pampas of South America far longer than their northern counterparts. Although they share much of the romanticized folklore with cowboys, the everyday reality of these workers can be difficult. The life of a Gaucho is one of adaptation – to the land, to the weather, and to their animals.
With their poems, folklore, and legends, Gauchos are an integral part of the cultural fabric of Argentina. Jorge had always wanted to make pictures of them partially because of his admiration for their cultural importance.
What inspired me to work with Gauchos is quite simply, their culture…[To me] they represent hard work and have a respect for the planet and land that’s admirable.
Jorge enjoyed getting to meet different Gauchos – getting to know them as individual people. This enthusiasm is well-conveyed through his photographs.
I wanted to portray the Gauchos’ culture in the most faithful way possible…to photograph real individuals while talking to them and learning.
Even though this was a personal project, Jorge worked with Bogota-based production company Dragon Films to organize and hire the appropriate crew for the shoot. Jose Mafla and Laura de LaEspriella helped with the production while Andres Guerrero worked as a retoucher.
Although Jorge didn’t work with an official shot list, he had a mental image of each picture he wanted to take. He also had a good idea of the type of lighting he wanted to use.
I wanted the pictures to look natural, but I also felt the project needed an expressive sort of light.
To accomplish this, Jorge used available light in conjunction with strobes. Blending the different light sources, Jorge was able to achieve the natural, but evocative look he had envisioned beforehand.
Dragon film’s help with production was a huge asset and took pressure off of Jorge regarding logistics. Because of this, he was able to give all of his attention to the creative aspects of the shoot.
Jorge greatly enjoyed working on this project. Not only did he get the chance to immerse himself in a culture he was interested in, but he learned a lot about the Gauchos that he didn’t expect. For example, within the Gaucho culture, there are different types of dress that vary based on the specific Argentinian region they’re from.
Jorge felt privileged he was able to meet such fantastic people over the course of the shoot. So far, the images have been well-received by several art directors from different agencies. Jorge hopes to continue his travels across Argentina and wants to learn more about that great country and its people.
See more Jorge’s photography at oviedojorge.com