Paulo's Feed
Aug 2, 2013
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High fashion under high security

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Juiz de Fora, Minas Gerais, Brazil

By Paulo Whitaker

A stylish, high-society blonde smelling of French perfume, inside a maximum security prison teaching prisoners to knit, truly seemed like a scene from a movie. But that’s what I found in Juiz de Fora, a medium-sized city in Brazil’s southeastern state of Minas Gerais.

Just a few years ago, Raquell Guimaraes, now 32, began working with her mother to knit clothing in tricot. They enjoyed success and with an increase in orders she needed more knitters, but couldn’t find enough. That was when she decided to visit the Arisvaldo de Campos Pires maximum security penitentiary in Juiz de Fora, about 100 miles (160 kms) north of Rio de Janeiro. There, Ms. Guimaraes found her perfect knitters, people with available time, some with as many as 20 years to spare.

Jul 9, 2013
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Reasoning amid riots

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Fortaleza, Brazil

By Paulo Whitaker

If the FIFA Confederations Cup is supposed to be about soccer, the latest edition in Brazil was really about so much else. Brazilians are passionate about the sport, but with all the public spending on stadiums for that and the 2014 World Cup, the people inaugurated the Confederations Cup with protests against poor public schools, hospitals and transportation. The protests began over a sudden increase in bus fares, but that was only the catalyst for a wave of protests that swept the country, especially near the stadiums where the world was watching soccer.

They were ten days of steady protests and riots, leading up to the semi-final between Spain and Italy in Fortaleza. I had the information that protests were planned near the stadium, and because of past experience covering I went earlier this time with colleague Kai Pfaffenbach to the stadium. But police had kept the demonstrations far from the stadium in a slum area dangerous to walk in with photo gear.

Apr 15, 2013
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Indians, or farmers-to-be?

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Maraiwatsede, Mato Grosso, Brazil

By Paulo Whitaker

Sixty years ago Brazil’s Indians had their territory demarcated, when they lived in a rich forest from which they extracted their food. Their rivers were teeming with fish, and their jungles with wild animals.

Today, in the 21st Century, many Brazilian Indians live a completely different situation, trapped in corners of their land by settlers who are large and powerful farmers that invade native territory to plant soybeans, sugar cane, and pasture to raise cattle.

Mar 21, 2013
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A recycling hero

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Santana do Parnaiba, Brazil

By Paulo Whitaker

Today’s Brazil is synonymous with great promise, as the country of the future with tremendous economic potential. But in terms of our care for the environment, we are far from being a global example.

Although we are the world champion in recycling aluminium cans, we still have many polluted rivers and cities, and our rainforests are being devastated to make room for soybeans, cattle and sugar cane. Recycling cans is high thanks only to the thousands of poor who survive by collecting them.

Dec 21, 2012
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National sport, national passion

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Sao Paulo, Brazil

By Paulo Whitaker

Soccer is the passion of Brazilians, whether they play it themselves or fervently root for a club in the national league’s annual tournament dubbed the Brasileirão, or big Brazilian championship. The 2014 World Cup will certainly cause a frenzy in the country, and if Brazil were to win then we can expect a week-long national holiday.

The World Cup’s opening match will take place in Sao Paulo’s brand new Arena Corinthians, still under construction but over 50% completed. Brazil is in a hurry to finish its stadiums, so in the case of Arena Corinthans there are 2,000 workers employed around the clock.

Dec 12, 2012
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Mad dogs and motorcycles

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Sao Paulo, Brazil

By Paulo Whitaker

Riding on two wheels in South America’s biggest city is not very safe. Authorities say three motorcyclists die every day in Sao Paulo.

The term “motoboy” in Sao Paulo is synonymous with an angry rebel, one of the thousands of motorcycle couriers also known as “cachorros loucos,” or “mad dogs.” Most of them are totally reckless, racing along the high speed corridors formed between the rows of vehicles stuck in heavy traffic. The driver of any car who doesn’t give the right of way to the “mad dog” will be cursed, kicked and likely lose their rear view mirror to a motorcycle handlebar or a gloved fist.

Oct 11, 2012
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Brazil’s homegrown Gaudi

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By Paulo Whitaker

The last time I took pictures in one of Brazil’s favelas my luck was very different. That was in Rio de Janeiro in 2010, when I was covering a police invasion of the Alemão slum. A bullet perforated the windshield and hit me in the shoulder as I sat transmitting pictures in the backseat of a taxi. Fortunately, I recovered quickly.

By contrast, this time I shot a feature story about a gardener cum architect in São Paulo’s second-largest slum, Paraisopolis. Although Estevão Silva da Conceição’s creation draws an immediate comparison to one by Spanish Catalan architect Antoni Gaudi, he had never heard of Gaudi nor seen any photos of his work before building his own home here.

Sep 14, 2012
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Brazil’s exclusively inclusive church

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By Paulo Whitaker

In Brazil we have a saying, “Soccer and religion are sacred.” Here, as with one’s choice of a favorite soccer team, one’s choice of religion is also not up for discussion. When I discovered here in Sao Paulo a church run by a missionary and a pastor who are lesbian partners, I thought it would be an interesting photo story.

In this megalopolis, there already are a few evangelical churches that are inclusive, accepting people regardless of race, color, economic situation and sexual preference, but the Cidade de Refugio (City Refuge) is the first in Brazil to cater almost exclusively to the gay community. This church, part of the network of the evangelical Assemblies of God, is led by Lanna Holder, a lesbian activist who uses the title of Missionary.

Apr 5, 2012
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Everywhere a Crackland

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By Paulo Whitaker

Crack consumption is an epidemic in Brazil. In virtually every corner of the country there are users of the drug, so we decided to produce a photo essay to cover a wide geographic area. Seven photographers in seven cities during 24 hours. The story titled “24-7, Crack in Brazil” is about crack use in public view in 2014 World Cup host cities Sao Paulo, Rio de Janeiro, Porto Alegre, Belo Horizonte, Manaus, Salvador da Bahia and Curitiba.

In most of the cities our research showed that users logically confine their consumption to areas with little police presence, such as alleys and deserted streets. In contrast, crack use is so widespread in Sao Paulo that users and dealers gather in the city center with no fear of the police.

Feb 3, 2011
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Photographers should always be ready

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After six long days covering fashion shows in Sao Paulo, Brazil, the best opportunity to produce a nice shot happened on the last day, at the last show: a model tripped over at the beginning of the show.

During Cavalera’s show at Sao Paulo Fashion Week, models were made to walk through a big puddle of water while artificial rain fell, so the floor was very slippery. When the show began, I concentrated on shooting all the models as there was a big chance that somebody would fall. Indeed, it happened! When the fourth model came towards the end of the soaked catwalk, the poor girl slipped, very close to the photographers pit, but quickly smiled and got back on her feet. The photographers’ reactions was funny because when a model trips they shout and celebrate the fall as an opportunity to make a good picture. The public, on the other hand, applaud in support of the model.

    • About Paulo

      "Paulo is a native Paulistano by birth. He worked at jobs ranging from water polo referee to pizza chef in his own beachside pizza kiosk in Rio de Janeiro, before beginning his career as photojournalist in 1982 at the Folha de Sao Paulo. He went on to study journalism and joined Reuters in 1998, based in Sao Paulo. He's a veteran photographer of World Cups and Olympics, and has covered a wide range of political and general news."
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