My name is José Tostes de Alvarenga, signed José Alvarenga. I was born in a middle size town, 200 km from Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. As a child, I was drawn to photography by my father who possessed a camera and loved to take pictures of the family in different places of the city. At 18, I worked as a reporter in a local newspaper. There I observed my colleagues developing the day’s picture in a photographic laboratory. The process through which a vivid image appears in the paper, amazed me. That experience made me fall in love with photography.
Later, I set up my own laboratory at the back of the house in which I lived with my parents, two sisters and a younger brother. There I spent hours developing my films and making copies. I remember opening the window when the job was done and seeing it was already dark. It was a wonderful feeling, not being aware of the flowing of time.
My subject is urban, I take pictures from scenes in the streets, public buildings, squares, which I find often surreal. Photography made me see the beauty of details, as a shadow, a diagonal, architectural details, an object that serves as a first plan. Sometimes I shoot self portraits to take advantage of a shadow, an environment. I also like to take pictures with bicycles, and umbrellas. I think they come out well in a photo. My pictures are mostly taken in Rio de Janeiro, were I live.
Street scenes attract me very much, in general, and are a basic inspiration. Some seem surrealistic or even loaded with humour if the scene is correctly framed by the photographer. Others, apparently common and not interesting, have details that can be transformed into abstract images with surprising results. The eye does the editing in the moment of the “click”.
The great majority of my photos are black and white, analog, by using 400 ASA film. However, I also like to make some colour pictures. I feel good when going out with my camera, getting purposely lost in the streets of the city, looking for everyday life scenes that look unusual.
I organize photography workshops for students of public schools.
I am a teacher and make my photos on the week-ends, mostly. When I don’t have my camera in hand, I see scenes that would make good photos, therefore I could say that I make pictures mentally at any time. Often I visit photography exhibitions and look for great photographers on the internet. They give me inspiration to follow my own path. In my free time I go out to the streets with my analog camera.
Street is everything! I am a street photographer, I consider myself as a kind of a chronicler of the city, perhaps because in my early start, as a youngster, I worked as a newspaper reporter.