Digital Library

Photography and Fieldwork: Reflections from Archaeology and Anthropology

Juan David Sarmiento Rodríguez

Since its invention in the 19th century, photography has had the ability to freeze in time an instant, a fragment of reality printed on paper or in a digital archive, which transcends the image itself. Photography becomes an artwork, because it has the ability to capture the particularities that the author (photographer) wants to show, it has the possibility of identifying everything that is happening inside of it and externalizing it through a shot at the exact moment.

But the artistic element is not only impregnated in the act of taking the photograph, but also the captured light constitutes it, the image that is reflected in our camera also does it in our retina, in our mental gallery. This work is made up by the story which is tell, the one that gives it life and is the one that allows us to transmit experiences and emotions, which ends up being even more important.

Among the possible stories to tell, are all the experiences that have been lived for years in the field work from archeology and anthropology. Each and every one of these experiences that have been portrayed through photography have allowed us to recognize not only great discoveries and important researchers, but also amazing communities. Photography thus becomes the ideal medium, as Tania Castro said, “to remind us of who we were, who we are, what we have built and what we have destroyed.”

Thus, photography gives us the opportunity to thank and aggrandize the members of the communities with which we have worked, since it is from these images that we can transmit their stories and give face to their ideas and the knowledge they have taught us. It is the perfect means for others to feel that indescribable emotion that is lived when you are digging and find something new. It is the ideal instrument so that archeology and anthropology can truly generate social change and, at the same time, communicate with greater force everything that still costs from the academy: an appropriation of our memory and our history; everything what are we.

Thereby, the purpose of this page is to create a space where researchers can share their experiences through images, show the world who they have worked with and what they have discovered. Therefore, this space is intended to build a photo library of international experiences, where we can spread to the world those perfect moments that we have captured, while doing what we are passionate about. In this way, not only photographs of the current work will be exhibited, but, at the same time, it reflects how it has been built over the past decades.




Author: Juan David Sarmiento Rodríguez

Year: 2017

Place: San Tropel, La Guajira, Colombia


In this photograph it is possible to observe an abandoned boat called Chalana, which is on a beach where all those crafts that have completed their life cycle will be, where the wind and sand will  bury them over time, returning them back to where they came from: the territory. This photograph is part of the project “Navegación y construcción naval artesanal de la comunidad Wayuu en La Guajira colombiana” that has been carried out in the last five years with Professor Carlos Del Cairo Hurtado.