Cucurucho Handicrafts

Cucurucho Handicrafts by Rudy Girón

The fear of photography is real in Antigua Guatemala. More often I am finding signs which prohibit photography. That’s kind of ironic is you take a moment to consider the Antigua Guatemala is the most important tourist and travel destination in Central America. You might recall a sign from the Only in LAG category which prohibit the admission of food, cameras, guns and backpackers. After I had taken the photograph above, a clerk approach me to let me know that taking photos was not allowed. When my friend asked why, the drone spoke for about two minutes and didn’t say an intelligent coherent thought. Obviously, we left the store because places like this do not deserve our business.

My friend and I continue our stroll and conversation and he was wondering if the owners and employees there would have realized how much promotion a photo and description appearing at AntiguaDailyPhoto can do for their bottom line. He also said to me that he prefers the capitalist approach to prohibition, charge $1 per photo, he reasons most people would not pay, but they wouldn’t feel as they were prohibited from taking photographs either. I agree with him on both comments. So, if you’re a business owner, think twice about prohibiting photography in your shop, you might be missing out on the free promotion that blogs, social networks and news sites could do for your bottom line.

© 2012 – 2016, Rudy Giron. All rights reserved.

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  • The evening before The Ripple Effect Global Arts Studio, (a fair trade store that raises funds to build schools in Guatemala through Rotary’s Ripple Effect Program) was to open on the harbourfront in Kenora, Ontario Canada, my friend and I were putting the finishing touches on displays. A shadow appreared in the doorway, and after asking permission, in piled six young men. Noticing their different accents, and their unique hairstyles and dress, I asked where they were from. One was from Belgium, two from Ireland, two from Australia, and one was from Sweden. Turned out these gentlemen were part of the U2 entourage and had taken a day to visit Kenora as they were setting up for their Winnipeg, Manitoba concert. They asked if they could take pictures, as they loved the store and it’s concept. Can you imagine if we’d refused? Can you imagine the mileage we get from that story? Can you imagine where the photos have been shown?

    • Yeah, that’s exactly my point, you are bound to lose more by prohibiting photos and by allowing them.

  • kg

    If you don’t mind me asking.  What kind of camera were you utilizing when the store owner/clerk complained?   Just a small point and click or something big with a detachable lens.  I will be staying in Antigua for about 6 months and just wondering if I can get a away with utilizing a D40 or Rebel T3i or just stick with smaller point and click camera so  I can draw as little attention as possible.  If you have any other articles that reference how locals feel towards photographers please point me to the link. Thank you .

    • My friend was using his iPhone and I was using the Canon S100 one of the smallest compacts you can have, just bit thicker than an iPhone. If I were you, I would bring all my gear, remember the streets are free and you can take photos in most places. Regardless of what I just wrote, La Antigua Guatemala still the best place to take pictures in Guatemala.

  • Melissa Rodriguez

    For me it’s more about the general Guatemalan paranoia.  They always assume you have some sort of bad intent.  Maybe the owner has a skeleton in the closet he’s afraid someone will find.  As silly as it seems when taking a pic of these little cucuruchos I’m sure you are way more familiar with that part of the culture than me.  Even here in the US people get weird about it.  One time my hubby and I were walking in a strip mall, he was kind of far from me and taking my picture.  Some stranger started yelling to tell me that this guy was taking my picture and freaking out.  This guy was so worried that this guatemalan guy was taking a picture of an unsuspecting gringa.  It was crazy.  I think people, Guatemalans in general have a high level of suspicion or paranoia no matter the case. 

    • oldgringo

      You would to if all your life all you read about,see and been exposed to is corpution.

  • NYChapin

    very interesting… especially Rudy’s point of view. Like you say, you have been encountering this situation more often. But as a private business they do have a right to have some rules. I agree with you on the lot opportunity for some free advertising, but it is also possible that the ” no photos” rule is part of a business tactic. If you can’t get the shot, you might be more incline to make a purchase. Or how about just thinking about the comfort of other patrons. I personally don’t like a million cameras clicking when I’m having diner or just shopping around for simple things. Sometimes I don’t want to be part of the paisaje.
    So don’t feel too “mordido” Rudy ( just kidding) after all you did get the shot !!