I am going in a few weeks to Salvador and Rio. Anyone been to Salvador lately to comment on the safety factor vis camera theft, muggings, etc.?
Typically I haven't worried to much about such stuff, but it appears to be getting worse, according to some folks.
I've gone to both places, Rio is a party town, even the 'Hells Angels' love it down there, you can see riding their bikes up and down Ipanema beach, Rio is 'the city that never sleeps', something is always happening. Your concerns are directly related to what part of Rio you want to go, you want to photograph the 'red light' district, Copacabana beach, 'look out', take old gear you won't risk your life to keep at the point of a knife. Ipanema beach, or an outlying environ like Baja de Tijuaca is more of a family affair, with a great deal less panhandlers/pickpockets/beggars than you find at Copacabana.
If you're 'street smart' and been to Rio before, speak a little of the language, don't 'look out of place'/'stick out like a sore thumb'(wear casual clothes, DON'T BUY NEW CLOTHES/SHOES and wear them out when you shoot), you can take calculated risks, I've been to Rio more than a dozen times, usually I keep my camera slung under my armpit, I keep moving, when I seen a group of folks staring at me, and not saying a word, I move. I keep my mouth shut, nobody knows I'm not a Carioca until I start talking.
An aside to this, is that many folks in both towns wherever you go know each other, certainly in each neighborhood, the 'word' will go out on you, 'thumbs up', or 'thumbs down', depending on how you act. If you're friendly, make friends easily, like to smile, act like you appreciate and respect Brazilians for being in their country, you'll have it easy/the risk of you getting robbed goes way down.
Bahia, is more a a lyrical place, for poets/writers/painters, beautiful, introspective, ...........and the it's less of a 'party' town than Rio, watch out for the food, if you're not use to Bahian food, eat at the hotel, if you don't, you won't have to worry about muggers, you won't be in any shape to take photographs to get robbed, you'll be in the hospital.
When in Bahia, I stay at the Marazul located at the beach, I eat there only, because they serve quite a less 'exciting' cuisine than at the restaurants, last time I was there, I made the mistake of chancing a dinner at restaurant near the hotel, I spent the whole 12 hour flight back to the state, dumping out my guts, NONSTOP, and had to see a doctor when I got back here, spending THREE DAYS IN BED. Watch what you eat.
There are pickpockets and thieves in Bahia, but it is more of a spiritual place, I bumped into about a dozen serious photographers photographing on the beach, going inland is more dangerous, but if you keep on the move(setting up on a tripod, is IFFY/taking a real chance), and relate well to the folks wherever you are when you're not on the move, this will give you your best chance,.....................if you are robbed of your gear at knifepoint, GIVE IT UP, thieves there aren't like here, they're not trying to kill you, they just want your stuff, which will feed a hungry family for quite a while.
If you don't speak any of the language, haven't been there before, better to go on a tour w/a guide your first time, because not knowing the place/where to go, you're going to 'stick out' like a 'sore thumb'. One more thing, as soon as your shoot a roll, put it in your pocket and reload, that way, if you're 'relieved' of your gear, you'll at least have what you shot.
If you've ever been to Venice beach here in LA, and you can navigate their without getting into a hassle or getting rousted, you'll be ok, if you're dressed up in sharp clothes with a gleaming new and expensive looking camera, oblivious to your surroundings, you may have some difficulties.
Good luck to you, it will always be a risk to go to either place and shoot, but the photo ops are tremendous, just tremendous, well worth the risk, go to my website to the 'Bahia' gallery to see just a few of the shots I've take during Carnaval in Bahia.
I'm running all this down for the folks who haven't been there, so if you've already been, forgive me for repeating all this.
I'm including a shot I took on the Ilha de Itaparica, a 20mi. long island right off the coast of Bahia, located in the 'Bay of All Saints', a fabulous place, w/gorgeous landmarks, you can take ferry there(which takes forever) or one of the catamarans which is fairly quick and a little more money.
When I got to the island, I hired a taxi driver to take me aroundl, happened onto this family on their way to Carnaval event. They were gracious enough to let me take a shot, and I gave them a few bucks in appreciation, in Brazil, folks will be gracious in letting you shoot them, it's good manners of you to know that you don't have to be asked to show some appreciation.
Bahia is somewhat the spiritual capital of Brazil for many Brazilians/Afro-Brazilians, it's the place where slaves were first brought to Brazil, the slaves brought the religion and belief systems of the Yoruba, a religion and belief system which is 5000 yrs old, and has evolved in Brazil into Candomble', which is a religion, not voodoo, not a cult, many people will not understand that. As an aside, understand that there are people rising from the dead, curses, and plagues in western religions, but no one in these belief systems are spending their time sticking pins in dolls trying to make other folks sick, that's BS from Hollywood.
The religious articfacts of Bahia, are incredible, there is an incredible similarity of the sculpture created by Afro-Brazilians to the African Art created by the ancestors of the Yoruba, which were located off the 'Gold Coast'/Nigeria Africa, as brought to Brazil by the slaves.
The famous part of Bahia is the world renowned Pelorinho, it's been declared an international treasure, beautiful, famous for it's resident poest, photographers, singers, bands, everything having to do with artistic expression, also, Reggae is big in Bahia, the music, the dress.
There's always bands, festivals, always something happening in Bahia, it's a photographer's dream, for anybody going, I'd research the place quite a bit before going, it's so much more than a tourist attractions.
If you want an incredible story, there's a group of people in Brazil, descended from white southern plantation owners, who were offered land and slaves circa 200yrs ago, they accepted and were given plantations and the slaves. Being away from the American south, they freely intermingled with their slaves, thus, they are no longer white but black folks, and incredibly, as is their tradition, they continue to dress up in confederate uniforms, w/their women dressing as 'Southern Belle's to music of 'Dixie', they've had documentaries on these people from time to time, it's incredible to see, there quite a ways from Bahia.
There's poverty and violence in Brazil, there's no unemployment insurance like it is here, either you have a job in Brazil, or you don't EAT, so a camera to somebody who hasn't eaten for a week, looks mighty tempting, BUT, poverty and desperations aside, Brazilians have hearts as big as a house, they'll share their last beer with you, help you when you're in need, give you directions when you look lost, and they'll remind you of what humanity and friendship is all about.
OMT about Bahia, if you want an ABSOLUTE BLAST, and to be able to take phtographs SAFELY, and enjoy Carnaval, then book your flight and hotel at least 3 months in advance, and set up a space on one of the 'Trios Electricos' diesal powered rigs set up for bands that circumnavigate the the center of Bahia during Carnaval. Bahia is HUGE and so is the circular route these diesel rigs take, you book space on one of these rigs, for a night of Carnaval and you'll see it all, without ducking in and out of crowds worrying about your gear.
These rigs are customized diesel trucks that are set up as little restaurants on their lower levels and their upper levels are bandstands, very luxurious, you can buy a space(I have no idea what it is now, probably $100-200), on top of one of these rigs and photograph from there(these rigs are driven very, very slowly, 1-2mph, and you can photograph from the top of one of these outfits in complete safety, from a very good vantage point, seeing all of what there is to see from Carnaval.
One photograph you MUST GET while in Bahia is of the Elevador Licerda, Bahia is on two plateus, upper city and lower city, they're connected by the biggest elevator on Earth, the Elevador Licerda, just the elevator w/no building attached, you'll love it.
Sponsored Ad. (Subscribers to APUG have the option to remove this ad.)
Jonathan thanks for the info. I lived in Rio, and in SP as a kid, and visited Salvador about ten years ago. Then there were virtually no personal security concerns, so your comment about a tripod is a change. I enjoyed your photos and agree it is a marvelous place. It used to be that unless you hung out at unusual hours or in unusual places you were pretty safe. I guess this isn't the case any more.
One of my favorite pleasures while in Bahia is having a beer at the Cantina Da Lua, in the Largo do Pelorinho, which is right in the center of the Pelorinho, that hasn't changed in the time I've been going to Bahia. Little by little, you're getting the 'Mc Donalds'/ and the modernizing of Bahia, as you go out from the Pelorinho, which I don't like, and it seemed like pickpockets were on the rise along the beach last time I went.
But you probably know better than I do, that it probably doesn't approach the same concern for me as being in a 'tough area' in Rio. I feel pretty safe in the Pelorinho, there's been some fighting during Carnaval, from too much booze, then again, I think Bahia is still a pretty nice proposition as an international attraction, and not the problem it could be.
'Todo Bem' my friend