Atitlán Photography represents an ongoing project by photographer Brendan James exploring the unique landscape and traditions around Lake Atitlan Guatemala.

Indigenous women of San Antonio recieve diplomas after graduating from the Mayan Families sustainable garden program. | San Antonio Palopo, Guatemala

In 2015, Brendan spent a year working with the indigenous with the Non-Profit Mayan Families. During his time with the organization he produced numerous videos capturing the work of Mayan Families as well as stories of the people including crushing poverty and reverent joy. Through his video and photos he was  able to get a unique and in depth view into the lives and culture of the people at the lake.

View from above Panajachel, Guatemala

At nearly 6,000ft the lake is situated beneath volcanoes Toliman, Atitlan and San Pedro providing a stunning backdrop for a culture as vibrant as the twilight sky. The Mayans have been active at the lake for over a thousand years, growing crops in terraced fields and fishing from dugout canoes. Presently, the lake has over a dozen towns where the indigenous people speak 3 languages: Tz’utujil, Kaqchikel, and K’iche’.

Los Ancianos meaning  “The Ancients” is  used to address the older indigenous women living in the rural communities of Guatemala. | San Jorge, Guatemala

During the civil war of the 1970’s responsibility in part to the United States government – the local indigenous were persecuted and driven from their homes in a large campaign of terror that displaced thousands based purely on their ethnic (non-white) origin. Several towns around the lake banded together to keep the military government out and preserve their heritage with notable events including the Santiago Massacre.

Women pray during preschool graduation ceremony. | San Antonio Palopó Lake Atitlán Guatemala

Considered by many to be one one of the most beautiful lakes in the world Lake Atitlán is under increasing threat of environmental derogation including farming and human growth around the lake with a government that rarely provides basic resources including access to education, waste disposal and health care. For those interested in supporting the environmental future of the lake please visit

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