Photography Student Photographs Amazonian Culture
In the 1970s, the Matis people in Amazonian Brazil were first contacted by the modern world. Although their contact with the outside world was limited, the Matis’ way of life is threatened because of the introduction of Western diseases that was spread by travelers. Only two villages remain – both along the Ituri River.
Michael Herring, an Expeditionary Studies student at SUNY Plattsburgh and travel photographer, traveled to Colombia for a rock climbing trip as part of the school’s program. Herring, along with members of the Explorers Club and Feral Human Expeditions, paddled up the Amazon into Brazil to meet the Matis. The biggest challenge Herring faced when photographing was not the difficult low-light or humid conditions, but the fact that the Matis and the explorers were so different from each other. Herring made sure that the Matis were comfortable with him by just simply talking and laughing with them. Then he started to capture photographs.
After this experience, Herring seems to understand what it means to be a travel photographer. In his own words, “I wanted to make sure I was observing the experience. I wasn’t there simply to collect data, get a story, and move on,” said Herring. “I wanted to make sure I wasn’t losing the human element.” For him, the people were more than just a subject to photograph, and he wanted to make sure they felt that way.
The rest of the photos from this trip can be viewed here.