Ruandy is a photographer and videographer. If he had to pick a label he’d say he is an action sports/portrait photographer. Action sports are his favorite followed closely by portraits. He loves being capable of shooting anywhere with minimal gear. Desert, forest, street, studio or a tiny room he would look at any location as a challenge. He thinks that is what makes photography fun for him.
Words and images by Ruandy Albisurez
My photography adventure was in Guatemala. I flew from Los Angeles into Guatemala City from Aug. 28 - Sep. 10, 2019. My adventure was one part of working on a personal photo project and one part visiting family. My parents live just outside of Guatemala City and much of my family still reside there.
The trip was important to me because I had not been back to visit in around 15 years and the photo project I am working on is important to me as well. I want to shed some light on the action sports community in Central and South America for people in North America. I don’t feel they get enough attention aside from the occasional travel write up or video I see in digital magazines that don’t put any focus on the locals growing the scene, building parks, running shops and organizing events. And all of that is a lot tougher to accomplish in a third world country. There are many talented athletes that come from very poor backgrounds that I think could change their lives around with the right exposure. So part of my project is hoping that I can help open up some doors for some of these athletes and get them some well-deserved exposure. I flew down as a one-man show to see what I can capture and share with people.
The biggest challenge I was going to face was finding some local action sports athletes to hang out, get to know and shoot with. I began doing searches on social media to find athletes with content that showed some promise in front of the lens. I reached out to many and only heard back from a few but that was definitely enough to get my foot in the door and meet other athletes as well. Being where we were, there are not very many chances to get shot by a sports photographer for a lot of these riders. All in all, we were all having a blast. For myself, it was hanging out with these young guys and getting to know them and learn a little about their scene. And for them, it was the rush of doing the same trick on repeat until we’d knock out a good shot and we would all be stoked with the results.
The best moments of the trip were hearing about how the local bike community is growing and how they’re all coming together to get this park slowly built up. They are all busy working on ways to come up with the resources to accomplish their goal. They still continue to build when they can and little by little have been growing this small line of jumps you see in the images. This is a small section of the park that they were granted access to in the small town of Fraijanes. Their dedication shows and it is a healthy outlet for them that keeps them out of trouble. In time I hope to be able to work on some kind of program to possibly get a little bit of aid down to these guys and help them get their park completed sooner than later. It would be a great place for younger kids to have a place to get into the sport. Outside of the riders, I shot some images of the countryside, a local mountain bike park, and the people. In Antigua, I donated some time to a local foundation Ninos de Guatemala and photographed some of the students to help them use those images to get some new sponsors. Overall I had a great time and experience.
Tips I can offer for traveling and photography are just to know what the minimum gear that you need for the images you are trying to create, and have a good way to transport it all and keep it safe. My Ajna was perfect for the trip. I was confident I wouldn’t have to check the bag and if by some chance I did I was confident about pulling the large ICU out and throwing it under the seat in front of me like a worst-case scenario. Knowing that I have that option brought me lots of peace of mind as far as my gear. Honestly, I had no problem fitting my Ajna into the overheads on its side.