Ernesto Benavides del Solar Although I work as a stringer photographer at Agence France-Presse, I simultaneously carry out various personal photographic projects. As a freelance photographer I have published in local and international newspapers and magazines as El País (Spain), Le Monde Magazine (France), Gatopardo, Somos (Peru), 6Mois, Le Chasse Mare, and Brandeins (Germany). I am also member of Supayfotos and have participated in the expositions of this Peruvian photodocumentalist collective in 2011 and 2012. 2013 I was a finalist at the POYI awards with the “Wanu” project in the Best Photo Book Category and presented the book at MATE (Mario Testino´s gallery). In 2012, I received the second Place at the POYI Awards in the category News Picture Story, and in 2011 I was one of the winners of National Geographic Magazine’s All Roads Photography Award. In 2010, I received an award from the Inter American Press Association in the photographic essay category. I teach photography courses at two Lima universities since 2010.
The 22 islands along Peru's coastline where guano – bird droppings used to make fertilizer – are a reminder of the asymmetric prosperity that characterized 19th century Peru, when the country exported this product in large quantities to the United States and Europe.
Back then, Chinese coolies where sent to these islands to collect guano. Labor conditions were harsh: they harvested the guano under the sun and ended the day covered in seagull excrement. The situation is not much different for today's guano laborers.
Now, the demand for organic products around the world has renovated global interest for guano. It is a natural and powerful fertilizer that satisfies the demands of "green" consumers who are against the use of chemicals in agriculture.