Using the Camera as a Research Tool: Anthropologist Lucinda Paxton

Documentary photographer, travel writer and presenter Lucinda Paxton first realised the power of the camera as a research tool while working as an anthropologist in Guyana. Since then, she has travelled to remote communities in South America, Asia and Africa – capturing their day to day life, occupations and celebrations.

Fascinated by the way we interact with one another, Lucinda possesses a natural ability to break down barriers and capture intimate moments with strangers. “Travel is about knowledge” she says, “you can visit a hundred museums in a foreign land but to truly know the place, you engage with the people who live there.” Her work is a reaction to an incurable wanderlust and a deep-rooted romanticism for the world’s natural aesthetics. She is constantly trying to understand humanity by attentively listening to the stories of individual people.

Lucinda in Atacama

Lucinda obtained her MA in Anthropology from Goldsmiths, University of London in 2004, where she wrote her thesis on the problems of Bolivia’s indigenous populations. Now she prefers an easier style. “I want to talk to people through my articles in a way that paints colourful pictures for the reader,” she explains. “My main aim is to inspire people to visit the places through my own observations and by telling the stories of the people I meet.” Her heroes are Lady Florence Dixie, Amelia Earhart and Cowboys. Adventure is worthwhile in itself – living by this Earhart quote, Lucinda travels alone and believes it’s easier to meet people and break barriers that way. 

How and why did she become a traveller? Lucinda has an interesting story to share: “I used to cry I wasn’t born a boy because back then boys seemed to get all the best adventures. I quickly realised I could have them too; spurred on by the travels of my parents and their brilliant library of far away places, I set off on my own odyssey of India for a year in 1999 and have never really looked back. I have lived with indigenous Amerindians in South America, sleeping in a hammock in the Rupununi savannah for months on end; tracked Darwin’s footsteps on the Galapagos islands and galloped horses across the mighty Patagonian pampas before continuing on horseback to cross the Andes with the gauchos from Argentina into Chile.


Lucinda in Patagonia


“I have driven a jeep solo through Patagonia again crossing borders between Chile and Argentina and traversing the fantastic Torres del Paine National Park. I stepped away from the Americas in 2015 when I travelled to Ethiopia to make a travel documentary and spent time trying to understand the impact of tourism in the Omo Valley. My most recent adventure led me to the last great wilderness on earth – Antarctica. I spent a month documenting people’s interactions with the White Continent through photos and interviews. Now I live in a rural village in Argentina, famous for artisans and cowboys. It is a daily adventure in itself but also gives me the freedom to explore this vast country at my leisure.”

Lucinda has run participatory photography projects and workshops in London, Nepal, Guyana and other places. She is active in the NGO sector. Here are selections from four sets of her work, three from Central/South America and one from Africa.

Links: Website ( | Instagram ( | Twitter (@CindersPaxton)

Images used with permission.


Crossing the Andes from Argentina to Chile with the Gauchos






Little Corn Island, Nicaragua






Sacred Valley, Peru






A Gaucho Festival in Salta, Northern Argentina






Omo Valley, Ethiopia