The Hello Bar is a simple web toolbar that engages users and communicates a call to action. Street Photography in Ferdonia, Colombia... with Billy the Goat!

Street Photography: 4 Paisas & a Gringo, Plus One Mad Goat

I only have a few weeks left here in Colombia before I will be heading back to the my home in Missouri, USA.  Because of that I have been on a mad dash to try and get as many new photos as I can.  Last week my friend Sebastian took me around Envigado and we had such a blast getting great shots there, that we decided to do it again.  This time Sebastain invited me to his finca (it’s what Colombians call a vacation home, like a cabin of sorts) that was an hour outside of Medellin in a small town called Fredonia.  God I love Paisa people, they are such great friends once you get to know them!  I told him if he drove out with his car and helped me, I would pay $50,000 COP ($27.77 USD) towards fuel and tolls.  He said deal and it was totally worth the money!

He invited his sister (Vero) and her boyfriend (Mauricio) to tag along and help, which left one seat open in the car.  I have a friend here in Medellin, Oscar, that has been to a few photo projects that I did here and I just so happened to see him online on Facebook, so I hit him up and asked “What ya doing Sunday amigo?”  He had plans but canceled as soon as I told him what we would be doing, as he loves street photography.

The plan was simple, use 1-2 lights and hit the street looking for old Paisa Cowboys, interesting characters and anyone else who would let us take their portrait.  Again we wouldn’t be posing anyone and asking them just for a minute of their time, leaving them in the position we found them in.

I have to say at first it was pretty hard going.  The first street we walked down not many people wanted their portrait taken and we got a little frustrated.  I tried to be positive but even I was beginning to wonder if maybe this wasn’t the best place to do photos at.  We hit another street and all of a sudden things changed and people started saying yes a lot more.  The entire day went like that, one street would be cold and the next people were yelling at us to take their photos.

I can’t stress enough that when it comes to street photography it’s more about people skills and luck then your gear.  Approaching people is the hardest part, as a lot of people have to much fear of rejection and shy away from it.  I understand it fully but if you don’t press on you’ll never get that shot you want.  That day proved to be a place that the more people in an area the more likely they would say no for a photo but once we got onto streets that were less crowded people were more open.  Every place presents it’s own challenges, so if something isn’t working for you, try something else.

Below is what I captured that day!

Paisas people men

He was one of the first persons we approached for a photo.  He was standing inside his shop doorway relaxing and so we asked if it would be cool.  He wondered why we wanted his photo and what it was for.  I told him I liked his hat, thought it was very “Paisa” and wanted his portrait because of that.  He agreed and I took about 4 photos of him and then thanked him.  My first photo ended up being the best one of the day for me I think.

Colombia barrio people old men paisa

Left: a man fixing watches in a small stand inside the main plaza. Right: a man waiting at a transport station full of Jeeps.  They use the Jeeps as a taxi, loading as many as they can, then will take off.  You’ll find lots of men dressed like this in the state of Antioquia and just as many old classic Jeeps as well.  It’s the official ride of Colombia I think!

Men working bike tire

We seen this guy working in a small shop fixing bike tires.  I had to talk with him for a few minutes to get him to say yes and told him he wouldn’t have to do anything but what he was doing.  He agreed and I used one light on camera left in a softbox to light this shot.

Paisa ninos Children Child

chica grandma latin

Me and Oscar seen this women at a cafe having a coffee.  We both looked at each other and smiled, knowing we wanted her photo.  She just had that real classic Paisa look to her, dressed in her Sunday best.  We asked and she kind of just laughed as to why we would want her photo but said yes.  I didn’t edit this photo at all.  It’s straight out of the camera as is.  Wanted to show you that it’s not always about Photoshop

Pilsen beer men

This guy is AEWSOME!  We asked a shop owner if we could have his photo and this guy was sitting their having a drink.  He said we should take his photo too, “Well yes I would love to amigo!”  I took the first photo of him but he looked really stiff and posed, so asked him to drink his beer for the photo, true Paisa style.  He laughed and said ok and after 12 photos I think I might have advertently got him a little drunk… as you can tell form his BIG cheesy smile at the end!

stree vendor old man

One thing I really appreciate about Colombians is that they don’t ask for money for a photo.  This guy had a small fruit stand on a desolate street with no one around.  When we asked him if we could take his photo he got really happy that someone had noticed him.  After I took this shot he wanted me to take one with his fruit stand, you could tell he was proud of it and no telling how many years he had had it.  People like this is why I always love coming back to Colombia!

Colombia barrio people black and white

Old man gringo

I really didn’t think this cowboy was going to say yes but we were all surprised when he did without flinching.  This one was a personal favorite of mine from that day.  He just had this look of “Don’t f*ck with me/hey how you doing.”

whisky boracho

We turned the corner on a street and standing in the doorway of a small bar was Pocho.  Drunken and dancing by himself we couldn’t help ourselves.  Oscar held up his camera and Pocho just gave us a drunken thumbs up and kept dancing, which translates as “I’m drunk and don’t care man!”  The bar tender came out and told us he was drinking rubbing alcohol with water!  If you don’t know, that is serious drinking and you can easily kill or blind yourself doing that.  Oscar and I both had a hard time getting his photo because he never stopped dancing and wouldn’t stand still.  By the time we were done, 1/2 the street was around us laughing that we were taking Pocho’s photo.  Something told me that most of the town knew him this way and I can only imagine what kind of hangover he had the next day.

stree vendor old man

Billy the goat

Goats are officially to me, got to be the dumbest animals alive I think.  The parking garage where we parked the car had this goat tied up in the corner when we arrived.  I had made a mental note to see if I couldn’t get it’s photo when we came back to leave but when we got back the goat was gone.  Didn’t think much of it, until we started taking a few last minute shots of the group and the owner came up and asked if we would take his photo.  My friend Sebastian knew the owner and said yes.  He left and I was wondering where he was going, 2min later he showed up with the goat and asked if we would take his picture!

We set the garage owner up on some steps with the goat next to him.  The owner told us it’s name was “Nieve” which translates as snow.  He started feeding the goat and this is when I realized how dumb/insane they are!

Billy the goat

Left: Look into my eyes and I will steal your soul.  Right: Attack goat!

Billy the goat

Like I said, this goat was insane!

To see more photos from this day, check out my Facebook Fanpage where I have a lot more.  Comments are always welcomed!

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  • Andi Perullo

    They are ALL amazing, but that last shot…WOW!!!!

  • Dave

    These are my favorite type of posts that you do. Wherever you go next, keep ambushing the locals and sharing the stories behind the pics. Oh, and not just the kids and old people, we want to see some pretty girls too!

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  • foggodyssey

    Thanks Dave but I hope people don’t think I am ambushing them like Bruce Gilden (! lol  I respect his work but detest it but who knows what some think when I show up :)

    … and yes more pretty ladies I know I know!

  • little pink cakes

    Wow, such stunning pictures! Great job!

  • Expat Chronicles

    Amazing pics.

    The indigentes drinking industrial use alcohol is standard. I’ve heard some get the water from toilet tanks. I’ve also heard the entry-level industrial use alcohol drinkers will mix it with a little HIT “juice”. 

    Next you gotta get somebody huffing glue :)

  • Pamela Soto

    The street is the place where everything is authentic and natural- where people’s face don’t wear masks, put in their natural environment and stealing this moment is among the best things that a photographer can do with his camera. I just adore the series with the goat, probably the goats are like the street dogs in Columbia. Holiday Home

  • Brice Peressini

    Great shots Troy! 

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  • Australia via

    Nah, this is amazing! Street photography is also good. I guess I have to try it also.

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  • santi cahyaningrum

    whose take the pictures?? this is so good and tell a stories.

  • Veronica May

    Fabulous shots! That goat sure looks a bit nuts!

  • Clippingimages

    From beginning to end….the portraits are just mind blowing and perfectly executed :)

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