Photographing my Chile

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…Discovering nature

It is the beginning of 2022 and it has been 9 years doing photography. I still want to continue learning, knowing and discovering this world, that thanks to this I also began to know nature.

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Before 2013, when I started a 6-month workshop, my approach to nature was minimal, I did not know places, species or realities about it; I didn’t know about photography either (I only remembered my old man, always with a camera in his hand) and starting this new adventure gave me a lot of enthusiasm to know and learn more, which to this day has not faded; on the contrary, the more I know these lands, the more I want to continue.

© Carolina Aravena

Today I think of why 40 years of my life went by without having known all this before. I don’t regret it, because I was a mother and I am very happy about that, but I feel that if at school or if our parents at home taught children from a young age to know and value all the natural riches of our country, the history of some would have been different.

The first trip I made in Chile in photographic mode was to San Pedro de Atacama in 2015 with my Pentax equipment. The first, second and all impressions I had were of joy, wonder and happiness. The immensity of the landscapes, the amount of biodiversity despite the difficult climate, meeting great people, like my great friend Tatiana -who continues to be my traveling and photography companion to this day- and really everything, It was great… well, except that I dropped the camera with the Pentax 300mm fixed lens and it stopped working. Luckily it was the last day (and that’s not the only accident in all these years, I’ll tell you more later).

© Carolina Aravena

To be able to be calm contemplating the places we visit, such as the Valley of the Moon, the volcanoes, lagoons in the desert and meet birds and fauna that I had never seen before, nor knew: such as the northern kite, the vizcacha, guanacos, a fox! Everything for me was new and wonderful.

My next destination was Torres del Paine. Already from the window of the plane I began to hallucinate. Seeing them for the first time, when you only know them from magazines or other people’s pictures, is amazing. The first thing I did, obviously, was take photos, very bad for the most part, but there we were again, enjoying the 8th wonder of the world. The day after our arrival we got up early to wait for the sunrise at a viewpoint… It was crazy. I don’t know how many colors we had during the sunrise, purples, reds, yellows, oranges, greens, blues, it truly is impressive.

© Carolina Aravena

It was on this trip that my second accident occurred: I photographed the Paine River with the Torres behind it, a camera incorrectly installed on the tripod and I only remember seeing my Pentax bounce off a rock and fall into the water… to this day I remember the sorrow I felt. It was very sad, but I had the support of all my fellow travelers and fortunately, I was saved by my teacher and guide, Jean Paul de la Harpe, who lent me a camera to continue photographing on the trip.

Despite the accident, the expedition that followed continued to be wonderful: penguins in Tierra del Fuego, crossing the Strait of Magellan, flamingos, another comet, reflections and more Torres. If there are places to which I would always return, Magallanes is one of them, because I still have a lot to discover in this piece of Patagonia that I love.


Another of my favorite places and one to which I would always return is the cove Chañaral de Aceituno. My first time there was at the end of 2016 and I have returned almost every year, except during the pandemic. Here the landscape is different; being near the sea is my cable to land, boarding a boat to sail must be one of the things I like to do the most and if we add whale watching and sea birds to that, the result is my panorama perfect, also here I have never had an accident with my team.

And if it’s about unforgettable encounters, I can’t help but remember my encounters with huemules in the Cerro Castillo National Reserve, in Aysén. My friends laugh at me because of the emotion; I always cry when I see them and I can’t focus on anything, but the important thing in the end is that the memory never fades. These are animals so vulnerable and in constant danger that being lucky enough to find them is a privilege that I must always be grateful for, even if the photo is not achieved.

© Carolina Aravena

Fortunately the trips have continued, the accidents have also (I had one again with my current Sony equipment) and along the paths traveled I have added friends, the experiences accumulate and the photographs as well. However, I continue to find garbage in every place, the protected areas are in constant threat of fires, real estate or economic pressure and the news of the last days of this year are not encouraging. I only hope that the new generations achieve balance and all the living beings of this planet are respected. I will continue on this path of learning about and sharing the experiences that I live while touring Chile and with that I hope to try to make many people understand and appreciate how beautiful it is and that we must take care of it. I feel it as my grain of sand.

© Carolina Aravena

About the Author:

Carolina Aravena Costa was born in Viña del Mar in 1973 and has lived in Santiago since 1996. She is the mother of Catalina and Agustín, she has been working for a software company for 10 years and has been a photography enthusiast since 2013.

Most of my photographs are related to the biodiversity of Chile, however, my trips are always motivated to record the nature of the places I have visited, especially fauna and birds. During all these years I have taken courses and workshops to learn about photography and I have participated in two books published in a biannual workshop dictated by the photographer Jean Paul de la Harpe, with whom we also participated in the exhibition at the MUI in Las Condes “Nature Revealed: Central Coast of Chile, Wetlands, Beaches and Forests”.

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