My family comes from Uruguay, and my grandfather was an architect who developed urban communities in Latin America. He was an amateur photographer as well, and I remember, growing up, my grandmother showed me all these slides of his travels, including to Machu Picchu, on light boxes. This is why I wanted to become a photographer.

 

My going to Machu Picchu felt like a pilgrimage — in some ways connected to my family, but also just for me. The trek gives you a sense of how big the Inca Empire was ­— it’s incredible to see a piece of this huge civilization. They managed to grow crops in different altitudes and different climates and build these villages. All the Inca trails and paths around the Andes were built to get to Machu Picchu. For seven days we didn’t see a shower, a motorbike, a plane, a cellphone. We just saw nature. About halfway through the trek, there were some thermal baths coming from the mountains. Yet the rivers are really cold, like snow. You have to get all the right clothes for many different climates — it’s freezing at night, and incredibly hot in the day. You are more with yourself. I tried to take pictures without thinking much — I just wanted to be floating. It was hard to breathe in this altitude. Your brain is not thinking properly; it operates differently.

 

I shot in black and white as a homage to a Peruvian named Martín Chambi, an indigenous photographer who shot all around the Andes in the mid-20th century. I tried to push what he did into the contemporary landscape.

 

- AS TOLD TO JAIME LOWE

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