For Colombian photographer and illustrator Esteban Borrero, a career in the creative world occurred somewhat unexpectedly. With a degree and Masters in Economics at the Universidad de los Andes in Bogotá and Universidad Pompeu Fabra in Barcelona, respectively, his formation in art came by way of informal workshops, and most significantly, a residency in Oaxaca, Mexico. The Bogota born artist explored Colombia as a child with his father and an analog camera. Everything he knows about photography today, he attributes to these trips during which he learned to appreciate and document the details.

While completing a thesis on the impact of Colombia’s informal economy on the country’s total production, Esteban applied his artistic skills to create visual references for the street vendors and their improvised carts, which he crossed paths with daily. Through the encouragement of an art professor, he eventually decided to develop a series with these illustrations, which gained traction in the local art industry, and were featured in the book Soy Bogotá by Casas Reigner’s publishing house La Oficina del Doctor.

Esteban has always felt a special connection to his hometown, and is known for his knack of capturing its essence through everyday scenes. We invited him to share with us his distinct perspective of the city. 

Instagram: @eborreroll__dibujos

What does Bogota smell like?

The interior gardens of old houses have a very pleasant smell. The one in my house smelled of eucalyptus.

What does it taste like?

In general, my tours around the city always end in a bakery, drinking a coffee and eating pan de yuca or almojábana.

Best discovery?

The Siete de Agosto market square. La Romana cafeteria on Jimenez with Carrera Sexta. The Merlin bookstore on Seventeenth Street with Carrera Novena.

What is your favorite activity to do in Bogota?

To tour the city by bicycle.

What is your first memory of the city?

I grew up thinking that Bogota was a dangerous city. When I finally lost my fear, I was able to discover some very beautiful places.

If Bogota had a filter, what would it be?

Black and white seems to fit well with the sober and sad spirit of the city, but I don’t like photos with filters.

And if it had a theme song?

Lluvia by Las Malas Amistades, a song which appears on the soundtrack of the movie Tropical Virus.

When traveling to Bogota, you can’t miss ________.

The Plaza de Mercado del Siete de Agosto.

Something everyone should know before visiting?

There is a very beautiful city behind closed doors that feels like it’s stuck in time. It’s easy to find inside stores and buildings in the city’s center.

What is the most unique thing about Bogotá, something you haven’t seen elsewhere?

The chain of hills that enclose it on the east.

What’s your definition of beauty?

I like to record other people’s ideas of beauty, especially when they

are spontaneous and original. For example, the shapes and colors of the facades

of houses or the objects with which a room or store is decorated.

What do you prefer- photographing someone you know or a stranger?

Strangers, although I rarely take photos of people.