Spotlight: Returning to Colombia, and Returning to Street Photography

By David Schonauer   Wednesday September 25, 2019

The year was 2017.

After a decade of living as an expatriate in Canada, Oscar LaVerde had returned to Colombia. The country had just held a referendum on whether the government should sign a peace treaty with FARC rebels, ending a half century of civil war. “The ‘NO’ vote won by a tiny margin, and my heart was torn apart,” recalls LaVerde. He consoled himself by heading out with his camera to do what he had learned from his own father, who, he says, was "an old-school Colombian street photographer.”

“When my father was young, he used to take pictures of random people and their loved ones for a small fee,” says LeVerde. “It was the kind of street photography you used to find in every town in Latin America. He taught me all the basics of how to take a picture with an old Zenit camera from the USSR, and I fell in love with the art.”

Later, while studying biology during his university years, LaVerde began using his old film camera as a tool, taking pictures of frogs, lizards and snakes in the tropical forests of South America. “This type of photography taught me patience and the importance of knowing my equipment very well,” he says. After graduating in the mid-2000s, he and his wife moved to Canada, “a country,” LaVerde notes, “known for its friendly people and cold weather, but not particularly for its repipes and amphibians.” Leaving biology behind, he changed careers and began working for a company specializing in commercial product photography. He also began studying web design.

“That was my real introduction to digital photography and all its potential,” he says. “Later I started getting into street photography. I bought a Fujifilm X70. I was a little nervous about having a fixed 28mm (full-frame equivalent) fixed lens, but that fear went away right after my first photo walk. It's been three years; I still own the X70, but most of my shooting is done with a Fujifilm X100F and an X-T3.”

Returning to his native country to visit in 2017, LaVerde found himself looking to people on the streets for inspiration. A photograph he made (at top), was later named a winner of the Latin American Fotografía 7 competition. LaVerde titled the picture “Begging for Peace.”

“This photo is important to me. It reminds me of what my dad used to do when he was young — the man in the picture is a street photographer himself,” says LaVerde. “Later, the picture became the beginning of a series of images on something I've been very interested in for a long time — people in the informal economy. In Latin America, the informal economy takes more than 50 percent of the working population. I try to explore this survival way of life in all the shapes it takes for women, immigrants, the elderly, black and brown people … any visible minority I can find.”

Below are images from the series, which LaVerde has been working on during travels to Colombia and elsewhere around the world.

Peddlers, Colombia

Street Artist, Porto, Portugal

Balloon Seller, Colombia

Tombstone Cleaners, Colombia

“I call the series ‘The Nonstandards.’ I took this term from the idea of nonstandard words, which are words that are commonly used but are not necessarily correct. That also seems to describe the people in these images and the conditions they must live under,” LaVerde says. “These ‘nonstandard’ people are human beings who are commonly used by all of us, but their living conditions are not necessarily correct.”

See more of the series at LaVerde’s website.


  1. Timothy Dale commented on: March 18, 2021 at 6:17 p.m.
    PERFECT LOTTERY SPELL THAT WORK FAST WITHIN 24 HOURS WITH DR RAYPOWER LOTTERY SPELL POWERS I saw so many testimonies about Dr Raypower a great lottery spell caster that will help you cast a lottery spell and give you the rightful numbers to win the lottery, i didn't believe it, at first but as life got harder i decided to take a try,  I contacted him also and told him i want to win a lottery he cast a lottery spell for me which i use and i play and i won $3,000,000 (THREE MILLION DOLLARS). I am so grateful to this man Dr Raypower and I am making this known to every one out there who have been trying all day to win the lottery, believe me this is the only way to win the lottery, this is the real secret we all have been searching for. Do not waste time contact him today for you to also be a winner contact info below. Email: or WhatsApp: +1 (424) 330-8109 Website:
  1. Janenet Thomas commented on: April 21, 2021 at 8:39 a.m.
    This is a great thing to announce to the general public for I have been saved and redeemed by winning a Powerball lottery with a spell and a winning numbers from or view his website: I heard he has helped lot of people until he helped me this month to win my first $700,000 from Powerball. You too can try for yourself today is just a spell and a winning number. or you can also call him or add him on whats-App: +2348138289852... This just a beginning I will win more. Good luck.
  1. jason bennett commented on: July 8, 2021 at 1:28 p.m.
    DR EMU WHO HELP PEOPLE IN ANY TYPE OF LOTTERY NUMBERS It is a very hard situation when playing the lottery and never won, or keep winning low fund not up to 100 bucks, i have been a victim of such a tough life, the biggest fund i have ever won was 100 bucks, and i have been playing lottery for almost 12 years now, things suddenly change the moment i came across a secret online, a testimony of a spell caster called DR EMU, who help people in any type of lottery numbers, i was not easily convinced, but i decided to give try, now i am a proud lottery winner with the help of DR EMU, i won $1,000.0000.00 and i am making this known to every one out there who have been trying all day to win the lottery, believe me this is the only way to win the lottery. Contact him via email What's app +2347012841542 Https://
  1. Nora Deen commented on: August 11, 2021 at 8:02 a.m.
    I have been playing the lottery since i was 19 years and now i am 47 meaning i have been playing the lottery for 28 years. The biggest amount I have ever won in my life was 1200 bucks. But one day my story turns to history after I find this man's name on the Internet that he is the best when it comes to winning the lottery. This man is a very strong voodoo Dr who gives out the lottery winning numbers that can never fail. After all my years of laboring and struggling to win the lottery i finally won ($12,000,000) Dr Winner, is the name, EMAIL him now: ( this is the only way to win the lottery and the best way via his website: Call or text him: +2348138289852

Sign in to leave a comment. Don't have an account? Join Now

Dispatches from Latin America