Kamila K Stanley - A South American Love Story
Kamila is a photographer currently based in London. Since graduating from Kings College London in Latin American Studies she's been working on photography commissions to earn money to go and explore more of the world. She says of her photography, 'nowadays what I'm really interested in is blurring the lines between travel photography, and the chimerical, dreamy world I crave to live in... kind of National Geographic on acid.' Say hello to your newest source of travel dream inspiration:
Hey Kamila, can you give us some background on yourself?
My name is Kamila, I'm English, part Polish, but I grew up in France. I've also lived in places like Spain, Argentina, Chile and Brazil, and most recently London!
I mainly take photographs, although I also do other things like illustrations and street art. Right now I'm in between projects, earning money to get back on the road.
Whilst in London, I shoot photo essays and editorials, work part-time, I take part in exhibitions, and I'm in an art collective called Lemon People. Today I went to shoot the English National Ballet for Olympus, thanks to a contest I won. This month I'm collaborating with an awesome stylist – on a new project.
It seems from looking at your website that your spiritual home is South America...
I moved to Argentina when I was 21, but I've had a love story with that part of the world since forever! When I was 17, I'd store the wages from my bar job in a jam jar labelled "South America". When I finally got there, it was thanks to a student exchange scheme for my university language degree. I battled with paperwork and got to study in Buenos Aires (Argentina) and then Rio de Janeiro (Brazil).
When I was there, I went to uni, but I was often on the road. In Rio our classes were put off a lot due to the massive riots prior to the World Cup... so I went travelling for months on end.
I was there for about a year. I trekked through the Bolivian jungle, the Andes, Argentinian deserts, the Chilean Pacific coast and the Brazilian Atlantic coast. This is basically how I learned photography. Every day I was seeing volcanoes, red lakes, geysers, forests, salt flats and sunrises. None of the languages I spoke could even begin to describe how beautiful it all was! That's why I started taking pictures.
What is one of your most memorable travelling adventures?
Lying in a field beside a road in the Andes, counting stars. Camping in a pine forest in central Argentina. The taste of salt everywhere, in Chile's Atacama desert. Hitch-hiking through draught, rain and snow... Bonfires on beaches at night in Brazil.
One of my most treasured adventures was reaching the Amazon – it's a magical part of the world. I met some Chileans who were heading there. There was a day we went swimming in a part of the river safe from caimans. The water was chocolate brown, and as we dived about euphorically, I felt something sweep beneath me. All at once a pink dolphin leaped out beside us. Then it began to rain - hot, earthy rain - and suddenly there was a rainbow bowing over the pool. As a storm broke out, birds of paradise began taking off from all surrounding trees.
We were breathless with laughter, it was surreal. I don't think I've ever felt so alive.
Silly question...do you have a favourite country?
Of course that's the hardest question - each place is so special. Bolivia is a world of magic and mystery; Argentina is this wild, dusty expanse of copper and gold. Chile is the stunning love child of the Pacific Ocean and the Andes mountains. I'm equally wild about Europe – countries like Portugal holds a very special place in my heart.
If I had to pick one favourite it's Brazil. Living in Rio for 6 months was electrifying. Also, the sheer size of the country makes it like a continent in itself.
Where to go next is easier! Top 3: Colombia, Costa Rica and Guatemala.
I have a dream to see the Himalayas, and I'm also aching to go to Scandinavia, which is somewhat closer to home.
What camera do you use?
All my pictures are 35mm film, cause that's how I learned. I set off to South America with a Minolta 100 SRT model from the 70s – my first camera that became like an extension of my arm. Sadly it was very old and broke in a Bolivian desert – sand got in the shutter. Right now I use an Olympus OM10, from the 80s. I also recently bought a Canon EOS Rebel XS, for more close range shooting.
I use the name Kaleidoscope Eyes because I love to recreate a trippy, chimerical world through my lens – blurring the lines between reality and dream in my pictures. I do like the dazy, sun-drenched aura film gives to pictures. It puts some nostalgia and that timeless ache back into travel photography – which I feel sometimes gets lost in the digital era.
Do you have any favourite photos?
I love a photograph I shot in someone's back garden in Chile, with Valdivia volcano towering over the little timber house.
Also this picture I have of Iguassu Waterfalls in Brazil, drenched in golden mist:
After some time in the Amazon I eventually had to fly back to La Paz, the main city in Bolivia. I was heartbroken when the plane landed – the Amazon had been like a dream and La Paz is an overwhelming beast of a city. I was outside the airport in the drizzly rain, when suddenly a spectacular rainbow seeped into the sky. I jumped into a cab, and on the motorway down to the city, I asked him to pull aside. I got out, ran up a hill beside the road, and was greeted by a jaw dropping sight. There was this couple sitting there, just contemplating the spectacle. I snapped this picture. Then I ran off – they probably never even saw me.