My name is Guillaume Flandre, I’m 28 and I’m a web developer living in Paris. I first started shooting with a point and shoot camera during my travels, and began to be more and more interested in photography when I moved to New York 5 years ago. There I met great photographers and I bought myself my first reflex camera (a Canon 450D that I kept using until recently). I still shoot my travels, but I’m also trying to experiment in other fields of this medium with more conceptual series. I’ve been published in several online publications such as National Geographic Traveler and collaborated with brands like Uber, Apple or Sony on photo events and photo shoots.
What interests you most about traveling? What was your first international travel experience?
What I love about traveling is the getting-out-of-your-comfort-zone aspect of it. Being lost in unknown streets in a country where you don’t speak the language is one of the most exciting feelings there is! I believe my very first experience abroad was going to Barcelona with my parents. But the true experience that made me fall in love with traveling was traveling by myself for a couple of weeks in Lithuania back in 2006.
What brought you to the Peru?
I'm lucky to have a brother who likes to travel as well, and he was living in Cuzco at the time, so I took the great opportunity to visit him and explore the country. It was my first time in South America, and I had planned to go for a very long time. Oddly, this wasn’t the country I had in mind for my first time on that continent, but I enjoyed every minute of it and loved the place, the history and the diversity of landscapes and cities.
How did you plan your trip?
Since I was limited in time, I had to carefully plan the trip. I bought a guide, visited hundreds of websites and decided to explore the South part of the country where the Incas had been more present (this Inca culture was really intriguing to me). But sometimes things don’t work out as planned and I missed the very first bus I had to take on my first day in the country due to timezone miscalculations. Everything worked out ok because situations like this make things more interesting, and forced me to interact even more with some very helpful locals.
What were some of your experiences?
One thing has to be said: Peru has some of the best food and drinks in the world! I got to try their famous guinea pig, their amazing Pisco Sour, and their very interesting-tasting homemade beer: the Chicha. Chicha is not something you can order in a restaurant or a bar of downtown Cuzco, you have to go to local places where everyone there wonders how you even found the place and thinks you’re lost. But once you order the Chicha, everyone joins you and talks to you.
What surprised you the most about your experience?
What surprised me was the diversity of lifestyles there. Cuzco or Lima start to look more and more like western cities with their coffee shops, pubs and hipstery cafés. Yet, in small villages or on Lake Titiqaqa for example, you can meet people living in a very traditional manner, the same way their families did a few generations ago.
What would you like people to know about your experience within the country that is little known?
I loved how traditions of the Inca culture are still very present in the every day life, with a lot of religious events and parades for example. I didn’t realize that prior to spending a few weeks there.
What recommendations can you share for future travelers going interested in going to Peru?
I’d say spend more time outside of the biggest cities and go explore the Colca Canyon or the Misti volcano. The countryside has breathtaking landscapes and jaw-dropping sunrises. If you can, take the long route to Machu Picchu and hike there for a few days (little tip: try to chew Coca leaves when trekking, it really helps you handle the lack of oxygen in some areas). Finally, don’t count the number of Pisco Sour you drink!
What advice do you have for individuals that want to start traveling internationally, but don’t know how to start?
Don’t overthink it and just go for it. This seems very cliché to say but it really is that simple! Also, be open to different cultures and don’t be afraid of not getting the same kind of comfort you would have back home - you would be missing the whole point of traveling (depending of the place where you go, of course).
Of all the images you captured during you trip, which would you say is your favorite? Why?
My favorite photo (see below) was taken after I had woken up at 4 in the morning in order to arrive at the Machu Picchu site in time for sunrise. At first clouds were covering the sky, but at the very moment the first rays of light appeared, the sun started to pierce through them and it was a magical moment, before most tourists would arrive. This girl wearing a Peruvian piece of clothing sat down to rest and enjoy the view after having walked all the way to this perfect spot. The timing was key in getting this picture since the light and the girl’s position were perfect. Had I been late that day, I couldn’t have captured this since Machu Picchu is a very popular place to visit and the place from where I took the picture is filled with tourists most of the time.
What’s next for you?
I’ll be visiting North America soon, but I really want to get out of big cities that I feel like I know pretty well by now and explore more new parts of the world. I want to go back to Asia, withTaiwan and Indonesia especially high on my list!
Images Courtesy of Guillaume Flandre