Photographers' Blog

The horses of Portugal

Queluz, Portugal

By Jose Manuel Ribeiro

They look like the last aristocrats.
They are treated with the most respect and tenderness.
They have the best diets and food.
They have fancy shampoo baths before showing up.
They have the best shoemakers.

They have healthcare 24/7.
They dress the way their forefathers did in the 18th century.
They have gentlemen’s hairdressers.

They are all males living at the Royal Palace of Queluz, 20 kms (12 miles) north of Lisbon, the same palace that received past Kings, Queens and Presidents during their state visits to Portugal.
They have care takers and horsemen all around, proud to be a part of the Equestrian Art Portuguese School.

They are the Lusitano horses, descended from the family of Iberian wild horses that were tamed by the stud farm of Alter do Chao in southern Portugal in the 18th century. The Royal Equestrian School closed in the 19th century but due to the Portuguese tradition of bullfighting on horseback the art, the skills and culture survive until today.

The Lusitano horse has been developed as a horse for bullfights, academics and training making them some of the most desired in the world. Portugal, the ancestral home for Lusitano horses has now been surpassed by Brazil with their fast-growing horse farms.

Fishing by sunrise

Lisbon, Portugal

By Jose Manuel Ribeiro

What we don’t see, we don’t know and when we don’t know we can not think about it. But near any of us, can be some piece of news. In the darkness of the night between Golden Beach and California Beach in Sesimbra village, 40 km (25 miles) south of Lisbon, elderly retired fishermen pull long ropes and fishing nets onto the sand.

The same place during the day welcomes thousands of swimmers and tourists on summer holidays without any knowledge of what had been done before dawn.

Trapped between European Union laws, Natural Park Environment regulations, the Portugal financial crisis and their need to survive on a slim pension of between 200 and 300 euros, they keep fighting helped by younger neighbors and relatives as they practice the old fishing technique, the arte xavega. Xavega is a Portuguese word originating from Arabic meaning fishing net.

Portugal’s love affair with canned fish

Lisbon, Portugal

By Jose Manuel Ribeiro

Canned fish: poor people’s food, gourmet cuisine, souvenir or just healthy fast food?

It was late when I arrived home, tired and starving. I opened the kitchen cupboard looking for some late-night lazy-man food, and there, they were: my friendly and colorful fish cans.

My oldest memory of canned fish brings me back to primary school when both children and teachers were asked to bring basic food that could be packed in boxes to send to starving people in the south of Nigeria during the Biafra war in the late sixties. I had not seen that many cans of fish together in my life since that day, until I visited a factory.

Europe’s quiet crisis

In 2011, the life of Portuguese citizens changed.

Changes that appear to be hidden but are smoothly spreading beneath our toes. We feel them, we breathe them, but we don’t obviously see them.

Throughout 2011 we worked to gain a front row seat to the changes.

Is it a spring fog or an autumn drizzle? Sometimes in life things change so fast and dramatically but the skyline will still brighten with the same sunrise or sunshine.

Where did it start? The U.S.? Iceland? Ireland? Greece?

Through interviews, Fado songs and Portuguese guitar music, we present our view of Portugal’s fight to understand themselves and the global crisis as well as to change and move forward.

Lisbon Fashion Week: A frivolous affair?

While covering Lisbon Fashion Week, photographer Rafa Marchante spoke with fashion designers, models, photographers and journalists, asking them if they thought the fashion world was frivolous.

Alzheimer’s disease: A subject close to home

Who, in the world of photography in Reuters, doesn’t know someone suffering from Alzheimer’s disease? Who doesn’t know and feel the suffering of their closest relatives when they are facing this disease? It must be even more difficult for the eldest, who are used to seeing people suffering from cancer or strokes but do not understand this disease, and start to panic.

Recently, I made contact with the Portuguese Alzheimer Association to talk with them about the disease. A week after I contacted them I met with two women, Brazilian therapist Claudia Zolini and Portuguese therapist Margarida Matos. I started talking to them about my personal experience with this disease, telling them how my godmother, who died in March, suffered from Alzheimer’s. I told them how, when the first signs of her disease showed up years ago, I would laugh at her little mistakes – until the moment came when I had to face the real evidence of this illness, that I could not fully understand. I told them that suddenly I had to become a psychologist for my mother, who by then was in a panic, fearing that she would also suffer from Alzheimer’s. She could understand many different types of diseases but not this one. She suffered in a way that only she can tell.

After recounting my story, the two aid workers told me they would help in any way they could. My godmother had an income, and with the assistance of the estate she could afford to be in a facility where she was helped. But I wanted to know what happens to low income families, who cannot afford to send their relatives to nursing homes. I felt that would create a bigger impact. The aid workers asked me: What do you mean bigger impact? I answered, the bigger the impact for me and the bigger it will be for society. They kept asking questions, in particular, if the photos would be used in the right way by the newspapers. I stayed silent after this question. I then answered, if they don’t use it wisely, they are not human.