I started photographing six years ago, when my daughter took me to my first photography class as a present for my 60th birthday. It was the summer of 2013 and the course was tutored by Alex and Rebecca Webb in Barcelona. ‘Oh God,’ I replied to my daughter Gwen when she asked me to go, but I went for the fun of it. I had no idea how to use the camera and I was obviously the worst in the class, but for some reason, I don’t know why, I really found it fascinating. It was very funny, I had never thought of doing photography but something clicked and I loved it. A few years later, I was commended for the Sony Awards and, as I saw my photo exhibited at the Somerset House in London, I realised my photography had value and started believing in it more and calling myself a photographer.
Photographing for me is always an exploration, always an adventure. I never set out to photograph something in particular or a story. I let my eyes guide me. Where they take me is unknown to me: I love photography because it allows me to be open to the world and the people around me in ways that always surprise me.
Mostly, I am drawn to people: having a camera is for me a great justification to approach people from different walks of life and burst the bubble I was brought up in while taking part in their experiences.
Visually, I am drawn to strong light and bold colours: I love the way in which strong light and harsh contrast transform a scene and layer it with mystery, as much as I appreciate the strength of bold colours and the immediacy with which they can communicate emotions.
I enjoying playing with what is visible and what is hidden, as it can open up possibilities for narratives or stories to be unfolded within a single image. For that reason, I often experiment with reflections and try to photograph through surfaces to increase the enigmatic quality of my photographs.
As far as composition goes, I love beauty and I love order and I always try to use these elements when framing my pictures.
Having said all that, I sometimes look at some of my pictures and wonder what there was in them that compelled me to take them. Often, I don’t have an answer. I think this is one of the most beautiful things about photography: to work in ways that are unconscious and unpredictable, and maybe a bit magical. Eventually for me a photograph is good not because of what is in the frame, but because of where it takes you. I agree with Brassaï when he said that photography must suggest, not insist or explain.
I am happiest wherever there is good light and I always try to make the most out of a scene or situation, even if this sometimes requires a high degree of imagination. I particularly enjoy photographing in Rio de Janeiro, where I was born, and in California. I love taking pictures of people near the sea: there is something I find very compelling about the behaviour of people when they are close to the water. It is as if they became less self-conscious, more oblivious to everyone and everything around them. I think that, in these moments, something more intimate about them is revealed. The way in which the light behaves and changes near the water also fascinates me and I enjoy to try and capture it.
I try and go out with my camera every day and to photograph as much a possible. As I already mentioned, I enjoy photographing in strong light because of the way it transforms the scene and loads the images with poetry and mystery through very graphic effects. I also enjoy the light at sunset, because of its soft golden tones and the long shadows it creates. I am currently working on a book on Rio’s beaches where the golden light is a predominant element.
The other ‘when’, the one of the photographic moment, relies on intuition and on the subtle ability of predicting how people are going to move and situations evolve. Trying to feel and being in tune with that ‘when’ is what drives and excites me.
I believe photography was a gift that came to me later in life, when I was least expecting it. I feel very committed to this gift now and I don’t want to let go of it.
I feel that with photography I am always learning: it always surprises me and, most of all, it still is a lot of fun. Photography has offered me experiences I never thought would be possible: I exhibited my pictures around the world and I am now working on my second book.
But mostly because of that moment, when a shimmer comes through and you feel the buzz, that allows you to frame life and make it echo for you, and for many other people, for a very long time. To witness to the beauty and poetry of the world, to frame it with your own personal vision and to share it with other people are all precious parts of my life now, for which I am very grateful.