From humble beginnings, Martín Chambi became Peru’s most celebrated photographer. We’re proud to own a collection of his work that’s as fresh and surprising as it was over a hundred years ago.
Martín Chambi was born in 1891 into a Quechua-speaking peasant family in one of the poorest regions of Peru.
When Martín was 12 he got a job in the mines as an assistant to a British Engineer who was using early large plate cameras to take photographs of the places where the pipes and railways were to be laid. From that moment on, Martín wanted to be a photographer.
By the 1920s, Martín had established his own photographic studio in Cusco. Here he photographed both wealthy and elite members of society, as well as the indigenous people, who he preferred to shoot in their own clothes. Passionate about his country and heritage, he also went went out with his massive large format camera to explore the landscape, communities and culture of Peru.
– Amanda Hopkinson, author of Martín Chambi (Phaidon, 2001)
Martín Chambi: “Self-portrait of Martín Chambi looking at himself, Cusco, Peru” (1923)