South America hadn't been on my 'list'. That bucket list I write down over and over, things to do, places to go, what to try, who to be. South America just didn't make that list. Scary, dangerous, language barrier, climate, whatever the news was feeding me at the time. It wasn't on my list, but the opportunity arose and I took it.
I'm grateful I did.
This post isn't about the trip. It isn't a travel guide; it certainly isn't about the Olympics, which was happening at the time and which I did attend; it isn't about food or neighborhoods or anything like that. It isn't even about people, truly, though the trip (and Rio by nature) was full of them, touching my life and changing my perspective.
It's about 6 rolls of film that sat on my shelf for a year.
The Canon 5D MKIII didn't join me and it was usually too sketchy to walk with your iPhone out, snapping away like a tourist.
Instead, I brought my 1976 Canon AE-1, its OEM 50mm f/1.8, and a bag of Fujifilm Superia 400/800. I'd been playing around with analog for five or six months and while the camera is cool/vintage/special, it wasn't worth anything. It wouldn't be worth stealing and if I lost it, it wouldn't be the end of the world. Plus, there's a sense of magic knowing you can't review or share your photos until they're developed - long after you've settled in at home and the travel buzz has died down.
I didn't plan to leave them untouched, life just started to happen.
Leaving film behind for a year, I'm looking back thinking, "What was I thinking when I took that shot?" "What was it about this location?" "Who was I in that moment?"
Every one of these photos is so special to me. I can't taint them with too much explanation.
What follows are big moments, I suppose. Ones where I was full of life.
There are stories even I won't tell.
I keep them for myself, occasionally letting them slip out in summaries or short anecdotes that get lost in the greater conversation. Each of these photos is one of those stories. I couldn't stand to let them sit in a folder on my computer, in my box of negatives. Honestly, I wish there were more I could do.
This picture of Cristo (Christ the Redeemer) might be my favorite depiction of him, ever.
This is the God I dreamt of, the one who is a part of me. He is the God who needs no glory in his face; the one who needs no flattering portrait; the one whose greatness is neither depicted nor described, simply understood.
This is Cristo, looking down upon hundreds of sweaty little ants, most of whom took the elevator and paid an exorbitant amount in reals to stand like sardines on a balcony that smelled like French fries, overlooking all of Rio. The one who looks down and says, "I love you anyway, no matter what."