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Samba Da Bahia
After a friend, who lives in Rio de Janeiro, hired me to photograph her wedding last September, I decided to take five days after the celebration to begin a project before returning to the U.S. Choosing a subject to photograph in a country as large and overwhelming to the senses as Brazil humbled my planning abilities. As Tom Jobim, composer of “The Girl From Ipanema,” once said, “Brazil is not for beginners.”
I had good luck with an earlier story about Harlem Jazz, and found the links between music, culture and history to be great subject matter to photograph. Then as I saw the connections between the musical genres that the African diaspora carried to different parts of the world, samba beckoned me to Bahia, where I chose to try to photograph that musics inspiration.
As fishermen work on the beach, the icon of a Candomble god stands by their overturned boats. Sugarcane arrives at a market. A street cleaner steps through smoke drifting into his backyard. A young woman waits alone. And into the night, a crowd gathers outside a samba bar to look, to search.
As much as jazz can be identified with Harlem, samba can be seen as a metaphor for daily life in the city of Salvador. Its origins and symbolism reflect the history of the region, as the songs honor the labor and loves of the descendants of African slaves while also blending the influences of indigenous Brazilians and their Portuguese conquerors.
I hope to return to Bahia to continue work on this unpublished project. I also want to thank Randy Roberts of Cana Brava Records and writer Ben Paris. The two expatriate Americans living in Salvador provided me with friendship and generous support while I put frenzied demands on their time during the week that I visited. Without their help I would have been in trouble. Muito obrigado, meus amigos.
I am a reformed newspaper photographer living just outside New York City in Connecticut. I graduated from American University in Washington, DC with a degree in literature and a minor in journalism. After a year of writing and photographing for a small paper in South Carolina, I decided to specialize in photography.
After a workshop with James Nachtwey, I worked for Associated Press in New Hampshire. I attended the Eddie Adams Workshop and moved to Connecticut, where I photographed for over 10 years at The Stamford Advocate.
A major turning point in my career came after attending David Alan Harvey’s loft workshop in 2007. His advice? Quit the newspaper. I’ve been freelance for over a year and see many opportunities for the future.
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Many thanks… david alan harvey