I have an opportunity to travel to Recife, Brazil for a couple of weeks in January. I still haven't made up my mind on this for sure.
An acquaintence there has proposed a photo essay of the "poor" of Brazil. They will help with the language difference if I decide to go.
Has anyone traveled in Brazil? How safe is it there?
I am undecided whether to take medium format only or 4X5 only. I don't see getting bogged down with a lot of equipment. Medium format would save hauling a tripod on the trip.
I am thinking along the lines of TriX or Tmax 400 for low light applications and Efke PL 100 as my prime film (since I already have that film sorted out pretty well).
Any thoughts, experiences and advice that you can share would be greatly appreciated.
I would suggest just taking the medium format if you dont have an assistant or two. You can always use this as a scout trip. I lugged my 4x5 many places, when I have a med. w/no tripod, much easier, better for travel.
I'm originally from Brazil and still travel a lot there.
Recife is a beautiful beach city. Like any other large city in the world, it has safe and less safe areas. This should not limit your visit there, particularly because you are going with local people.
For photography, I would recommend MF only. The city is very hot and crowded. It is not easy to move around with big equipment in a hot and humid climate. MF also shows less and people get less intimidated.
For photo essay I suggest the near by city of Olinda and local markets. There you can see a lot historical places, tradition, culture and enjoy good and fresh food.
Bring a lot of film. The supply there is limited and expensive. For speed 100 and 400 will be fine.
Pls let me know if I can be of futher help.
Oh Lord....another gringo photographing the poor......Go to Brasil and photograph the beautiful things. If you want to do documentary or photo journalism, then ask your acquantancies what is this city known for. IOW dont go there with the idea you are going to "photograph the poor"....WTF as if everybody was rich in the US.....
Sponsored Ad. (Subscribers to APUG have the option to remove this ad.)
Donald, read Tristian Jones's book "Incredible Voyage" and learn about Recife. This may be a bit much unless you are a sailor. tim
Originally Posted by Jorge
Interesting is that this was the suggestion and the wish of the local. Not mine...so perhaps you may want to reevaluate your impression of me.
I've been there (Brazil) a couple of times and loved it. I haven't been the Recife, just the larger cities on business. I would think the larger cities are more dangerous. I felt safe, but I took taxis everywhere I went at night - walked during the day, and I avoided the seeder areas.
Go and enjoy. Brazil is one of my favorite places in the world. The people are fun and friendly. Wish we had a little more of that attitude here.
I took my magic case with me (I'm a bit of a magician - henst the handle) and would do magic as ice breakers. Try getting a case of magic tricks through customs I also speak a bit of Portegues - it helps ALOT!
I would lean to MF over LF. Mobilty in a foreign country is never over-rated.
The soul never thinks without an image.
Jorge's opinion of you may be wrong, but it has some value nonetheless. Like I said to you before, it would be interesting to note if your acquaintance is middle class and up or not. I say this because many of the people you will photograph will be hostile to the idea of yet another guy with a camera coming to show how poor people can be. The poor and the not poor form two very distinct worlds in Brazil, and many non-poor never cross into the other side. Many of my friends and family have more prejudice than knowledge of that other world, and it shows when they talk about my photography. Such behavior is not uncommon in the middle and upper classes of Brazil, and it worries me that perhaps your acquaintance is like that. If that is the case, she/he would be as much a stranger as you in whatever setting you may find yourself, and she/he may not be the best indicator of how you will be seen there.
If you haven't already, rent "City of God." Although it portrays a particular slum in Rio, I think it will show the separation between the poor and non-poor well enough, if you keep in mind that that was the 60's and 70's. Everything is much more tense today.
If you decide to go, let me suggest going to the rural areas inland of recife. There you will probably find beautiful towns, beautiful landscapes, and great people. Like I said to you before, there is much less tension in the rural areas than in the urban settings, so please keep that in mind.
Also, keep in mind what I said about NGO's. The type of work you are thinking about is much easier to do if you have UNICEF or something like that backing you up. Of course, you would be working for them, probably for free, but its something to keep in mind.
Anyway, don't be offended at what Jorge said; that is the overall feeling you will encounter down there. Jorge may have put it bluntly, but he has a very good point. To invade someone's life, even if briefly and cordially, is much easier if you somehow share in that person's background. In many cases, I was too much of a stranger for some people, and that is simply because I'm a city boy from Rio. Not sharing the language and culture will complicate your situation a lot.
Please don't discard going to Brazil, either because of what I wrote to you before of because of the conversation we are having now. But it may be worth it to go with a different goal in mind. Keep an open mind, I guess.
take care, man.
Jorge does make a valid, if blunt point. I wouldn't take it personally; it doesn't seem like it was directed towards you personally, rather I think he was making a point of what it may appear to a Brazillian local - I suspect someone coming just to photograph the poor, and not seeing the beautiful of the country as well, would be offensive.
I feel that you probably should only take the invitation if it allows you to do what you do best; to photograph those things you do best. I know if I went, it would be to photograph the natural places.