April 29, 2010

Lighten Up and Let Them Shoot - The Amazon

Sometimes in life you think you have it all planned out...then suddenly nothing goes as planned. So what do you do? You give up? Do you put your tail in between your legs and go home?

That is just not what lightenupandshoot is all about!

So what did we do? Find out after the break...

After a couple of wasted days trying to find indigenous people that had not been corrupted by society our efforts had been exhausted. The closest community that was not affected by society was 9 days traveling away and we would have to get permission by the Brazilian Government and it was no guarantee that we would be able to shoot any pictures.


After the initial disappointment we decided to head to a city called Puerto Narino. It is a 2 hour speedboat ride away from Leticia, Colombia. This was the best decision that we could have done.

As soon as we arrived we were greeted by Coqueto, an 11 year old tour guide that would completely change our plans, open our minds and save our amazon trip.

We start off by arriving at our hostel, HOTEL NAPU, this is by far the best hostel we have stayed at in a long time. Clean, beautiful, comfortable and the service is 5 star. Highly recommended at a whopping $20,000.00 pesos a night, or $10.00US. If you go, make sure you tell them we sent you and I'm sure you'll get some kind of discount.

Ok, enough about our stay, let me get back on track here. 

Coqueto was the most amazing guide, he told us everything about Puerto Narino. Told us who to deal with, who not to deal with. A truly amazing 11 year old. He knew all the ins and outs of the town. Granted, Puerto Narino is a tiny amazon community, with no cars, motorcycles or bicycles for that matter. But he still knew more than anyone I imagine.

While trecking through the jungle with Coqueto and Ivan, they told us that they loved to take pictures. That a couple of years ago, someone had come from Bogota and given a photography class to them. The person has given them disposable cameras and made them take pictures. It wasn't really a class Coqueto told me as the teacher said " Point the camera anywhere and push the button ". The teacher then took the photos and had them developed which they loved.

When we finally got out of the jungle (this is another story all in it's own...just to give you an idea of what happened, what was supposed to be a simple 3 hour walk through the jungle turned into a 9 hour adventure) and Mikey and I decided that our plans had changed.

TEACH TEACH TEACH was our new thing. No more personal project...it's all about the kids.

We taught them the basics of camera use (aperture, ISO, speed etc.) and composition. Just enough to get them started into taking some awesome photos.  They were so, and I mean so happy. They didn't want to put the cameras down and then reality struck us. We actually have to take the cameras back with us leaving them only with memories. How crappy is that! Mikey and I talked about how awesome it would be to do these things all over the planet but have a few cameras to give away in the process.

BADABING! The Lighten Up And Let Them Shoot idea came to our heads. Why can't we give away a couple cameras when we travel? If no camera company wants in...that's OK, we have our pocketbooks and all of the lightenupandshooters.

Part Uno: So we're still working out the details but be prepared to be asked to donate some old digital cameras that are just sitting in the drawer of your house. Not sure when we're going to start asking...just know that it's coming.

Part Dos: Obviously we can't do this all by ourselves, so this is where you come in. If you want to be part of this and would like to teach kids in need a little photography, leave us a comment and we'll be in touch to help you getting some cameras to give away while you teach.

Part Tres: This is in the planning stages so if you have any ideas you can add, either leave a comment or email us, andy@lightenupandshoot.com or mikey@lightenupandshoot.com

We really believe in this project, so it can definitely happen. We are going to try to get away a couple of times a year to different areas to teach...YOU SHOULD ALSO! So go ahead, leave a comment and sign up! We'll figure out the rest!

Ok, here is some more encouragement....picture time:


And as always...get out and shoot...NO WAIT!!! GO TEACH SOMEONE TO SHOOT!!!

Andy and Mikey


  1. I am sure i have some old Digital P&S cameras in the drawers at home and I can rustle some up between friends and family. What a fantastic Idea you guys have. Truly Inspiring. Take Care Simdog

  2. It can work and I'm willing to support! Look at how they have done it in Africa.


  3. Great job guys! Truly inspiring! You guys are amazing :)

  4. You are amazing, great idea about the children, i will suport your cause, very clever inspiration despite the indian disapoint. very touching... all the best...

  5. Awesome, im in, but i know less than the kids, or i did until i found lightenupandshoot

  6. Any guidelines on cameras?

    MMmm.... how are they gonna charge the batteries if they don't even have transportation?

    Should camera take AA's to make life easier for the new owner so that they have a chance to keep using when the batteries eventually die?

    Send camera with some kind of memory card? Size suggestions? Guessing that pictures will likely stay on the camera for the rest of camera's life?

    LOVE the idea! Just think you should throw down some ground rules before everyone recycles "everything" with you!

    Love the blog!

  7. really fantastic once again lighten up and shoot. maybe sometime you could give my country a shot - the Philippines! i'm sure you'll find so many interesting things here, from beautiful sceneries, indigenous people, to pollution, poverty and kids who were deprived to learn anything at all.
    if ever you need any more information, just tell me! more power!^^

  8. hey great stuff cuz...next time take me with you!

  9. I LOVE this idea, Mike, and would love to help out. Let me know what I can do here.

    This is a wonderful concept and something that we, as photographers, should all be willing to help in one way or another.

    You guys are great; and I'm proud to be your friend.

  10. What they do, inspires many photographers to teaching our knowledge, congratulations for his project