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Essential Lens: Analyzing Photographs Across the Curriculum

Energy: Capture, Storage, and Transformation #2573 Generating Power

#2573 A woman sits in profile on a stationary bicycle in the foreground of the image. Her profile orientation and placement indicate she is the focus of the image.


Date: April 2011
Location: Guatemala
Photographer: Matteo de Mayda
Source: Matteo de Mayda


Aña Maria Guch, President of “Women for Development in Action,” shows how her association of women makes aloe shampoo with bicimáquinas. From an interview: “First we cut the aloe, then we take off the skin and we put it in the bicilucuadora blender and we pedal!” Maya Pedal.


Photos downloaded from the Essential Lens site are cleared for educational use only.


The woman in the foreground and the woman standing against the wall in the background appear to wear some sort of traditional clothing. The brick structure, porch area, and various items stacked and hanging around the structure suggest the women live in a rural area, and that they may not have access to many modern technologies.

Build on Your Observations

The woman’s positioning on the bicycle allows us to see the stationary bicycle and the pitcher attached to a platform fixed above the front wheel. Because the pitcher is typically used for a blender, and because we can see a screw mechanism that attaches the bike wheel to the platform on which the blender rests, we can guess that through her peddling, she is blending whatever is in the pitcher.


The caption tells us the woman is the President of Women for Development in Action, and she is making shampoo from aloe by powering the blender with the bicycle.

Make Inferences

The photograph seems to highlight the way people are using alternative means to create energy to produce goods. Again, the profile orientation serves to support the tone of the image. We associate her position with movement, and here, even though she is still, she is “moving forward” by providing a means to support herself and her community.


The area in which she works is clear of any extraneous objects. This uncluttered composition helps to bring the focus on her and to convey the idea that her production of energy requires very little other than human effort.


The simple bicycle illustrates the fact that she is using common tools to impact her life and the economic life of this community. Presumably, the aloe she uses to make the shampoo is a resource natural to the region.


Her placement in front of the structure suggests this is her home: her bicycle-powered blender supports a new kind of domestic industry. The fact that Ms. Guch is president of an organization is an indication that this new domestic industry is playing in an important role in the local economy.

Formulate Further Questions

What are the advantages and disadvantages to the method the woman is using to generate energy?

How do alternative energy means allow for a broader segment of the population to work as manufacturers?

In what other ways are humans using their bodies to create energy?

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Essential Lens: Analyzing Photographs Across the Curriculum


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