At Foto Ruta we often get people asking us about camera safety in Buenos Aires. Questions we tend to get asked include…
How safe is it to walk around with your camera? Are there any places too dangerous to take photos? How do you keep your camera gear safe? Is it safe to take photos in Buenos Aires? Essentially what most people really want to know, is; how to explore the city taking photos, without getting their camera stolen.
And with good reason…Its most photography enthusiast’s worst nightmare; you spend hours exploring the city only to loose your beloved camera along with hundreds of great photos and memories of your trip.
Although Buenos Aires, has a reputation as one of Latin America’s safer cities, it also holds a lot of stigma for having a high level of petty crime such as muggings and pick pocketing.
At Foto Ruta we always re-assure people that BA is relatively safe and a great city to explore with your camera (we wouldn’t have chosen Buenos Aires as a city to host our eventsif that wasn’t the case). But, as in any big city in the world, it definitely pays to be cautious.
Here are our top tips for keeping your camera safe in Buenos Aires (and other big cities)
Follow your instincts
We always tell our participants to trust their instincts. If you feel uneasy, or see a group of people ahead of you look threatening, don’t hesitate. Turn around and take another route. You wont regret it, but you will kick yourself if you continue and end up getting all your stuff stolen!
Always shoot with your camera strap on
Shoot in pairs or small groups
Its always safer to shoot in pairs or groups, for a variety of reasons; Firstly, having a friend watc your back means you can focus on your shooting skills and getting a great shot. People in groups are also more intimidating and less attractive to thieves. This is yet another reason to join us on one of our Foto Ruta outings
Keep your bag where you can see it
Whether you’re sat in a cafe, walking down the street, or on the Subte, always have your bag in front of you, so you can see it. Try to stay cool though, avoid wearing your rucksack on backwards. Aside from the fact its SO not a good look, you’ll bring attention to yourself.. you may as well wear a neon sigh flashing ‘TOURIST’
Don’t bring attention to yourself
Following on from the rucksack on backwards faux par, its really important to try to blend in where possible, especially if you’re shooting in a non-touristy location. Things to avoid; Wearing socks with sandals and baseball caps (nothing screams American Tourist louder than that combination), talking very loudly in english (thats not to say you cant speak, just avoid drawing attention to the fact you’re foreign), don’t wave your map and guidebook around. These tips are location dependent. If, for example you’re shooting in Recoleta cemetery, keep the cap on, and the fanny pack.. you’ll fit right in.
By staying in the same place for too long, you’re more of a sitting target. Try to move around a bit, shoot and walk. That way you’re making it a little bit more difficult for thieves who might have you in their sights!
Give your camera a ‘make-under’
This is something a lot of pros do, but it may not be to your tastes if you’ve just spent $2000 on a beautiful new camera! Basically make your camera look as crappy as possible. You can do this by gaffer taping over the brand name, writing on it in tipex anything to make it look less tempting and valuable to thieves!
Finally, lots of people ask if there are particular places to avoid shooting in Buenos Aires. Unfortunately, as most photographers know, its often the edgier places that offer the riches photographic fodder, and the same can certainly be said for Buenos Aires. We love shooting portraits and street scenes in gritty neighbourhoods like Abasto and Once and we do on a regular basis. We wouldn’t however, recommend the following areas and neighbourhoods for anyone new to, or visiting Buenos Aires:
- Retiro (in and around the station)
- La Boca
- Parts of San Telmo (around calles Mexico/Piedras and towards 9deJulio)
If you really want to shoot in edgier parts of town, sign up to one of our Foto Ruta Academias. Exploring the city with Foto Ruta is definitely the safest and by far the most fun way to get your bearings and explore the best of Buenos Aires!