Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
By Sergio Moraes
I remember it as if it were yesterday. I was a staff photographer at the Isto É news magazine when I was assigned for the first time to cover the Carnival parade of samba schools. The year was 1986, and I was 24.
From then to now coverage of the event changed a lot, I changed a lot, and even Carnival changed a lot. By coincidence that was the first year that the parade was organized by LIESA, Rio’s Independent League of Samba Schools, which still organizes it today.
I felt as if I had received a present.
I went to the parade with the joy and excitement of someone going to a World Cup or Olympics. Back then 14 samba schools competed in one long night, while today there are 12 split across two nights. When the last school hit the runway I was on my 48th roll of film as if it were my first. Such was my joy at covering.
The headquarters of the magazine was in Sao Paulo, so as soon as the parade ended I headed to the airport, and then straight to hand in my film. I had a 3pm breakfast as the film was being developed, and the editor arrived to look over the 150 rolls from the three photographers who covered Carnival. I still recognize that as my first lesson on self-control in a big event.
I later covered three more Carnivals for Isto É, one of which stays in my memory, the one from 1988. It poured rain then, a true deluge in Rio that I knew would cause problems. As soon as the parade ended I handed my film to one of the other photographers who was going to Sao Paulo, and I sleeplessly headed to Petropolis, a mountain town outside of Rio. There I came across one of the region’s worst tragedies, with 134 victims buried by landslides.