Many people ask me when and how and why I got into photography. There are several reasons why and when I think back there are various points in my life that I was exposed to the concept of documenting the world around me.

When I was a child my father had a dark room in our home, he also had a love for photography. He made some amazing photographs that would now be called ‘Lifestyle Photography’ capturing the essence of our childhood. I remember going into our darkroom (aka our laundry room) and helping my father develop images, dipping the blank white paper into the vinegary smelling liquid, moving it gently back and forth slowly see the magic on the paper appear! I never did understand how a camera could make that happen. How did a camera, this little black box, make this amazing black and white image of our lives appear on the 8×10 pieces of start white glossy paper? It was pretty amazing, and as a child I always thought of it as magical!

Fast forward a few years and I was now in high school and had an interest to get creative, but how? I was terrible at visual arts like drawing and painting. I tried to take after my grandmother in the sewing department but the clothes I made always fit just a little bit off. I remembered the dark room and asked my father about the camera he had and all the stuff that went along with it. Sadly he had sold it, and so I was left to dream of when I might get the chance to take pictures and play with the magical papers and potions of the dark room again.

A few years after that I moved to Japan for a year and there I finally bought my first camera. I had the best time wandering around the streets of Japan taking pictures, both of the urban landscape but also silly pictures of myself and the amazing friends I made there. I came home after a year with at least 60 rolls of film to develop, and I am so grateful to have all those pictures to flip through and remember my time there.

My mother and I, Rio de Janeiro, 1977

My Mother and I. Rio De Janerio, Brasil, 1966

After getting home from Japan I did break out my camera here and there but life was always busy with work and university and I never made space for photography. Digital photography came on the scene and I lusted after an DSLR camera, but could never afford one. I did end up getting a small point and shoot camera in 2003, at this point I was living in the UK now and this camera helped me document my time there. It was super exciting to not have to develop film and see the results once loading my images onto my computer, again stunned by the magic of that little black box we call a camera. I still had this dream to learn more about photography, to study it and understand how a camera works and know more about the great photographers of our time; though creating space for this in my life always seemed a challenge.

In September 2005 I was called in England by my mother to let me know she had cancer and that I needed to come home. I was in shock and paralyzed with fear. I quickly booked a ticket to come home and see her. I stayed for 10 days then went back to the UK to pack my bags and come home to help take care of my dying mother.

By June 26th 2006 my mother had passed away from an aggressive form of breast cancer. It all happened so fast and sometimes I find myself still in shock that she is not here. For quite some time I would want to call her to share my excitement with her about things in my life like: new jobs, getting into Emily Carr, getting engaged and more recently the birth of my own child. My mother was a saint, a kind modest soul who could cook Chef Ramsey out of town! My family are from Brasil and we immigrated here with not much and my mother was always so grateful to be in Canada and have the chance at what she called a ‘better life’. Growing up as a kid I was obsessed with photos and always wanted to see more of my mother when she was a child but growing up with not much she didn’t have many photos of her past at all. When she passed I had a small box of images of her that I put together for a slide show at her funeral. Going through those was tough, but also healing, looking at her smile, seeing funny moments we had shared and even finding one or two of her as a young lady back in Brasil.

My mother didn’t have much to her name when she died, but both my brother and I did get a small inheritance from her life insurance. It was so odd to be ‘gifted’ money from such a horrifying experience. I had huge student debt at that time and thought I could put a bit down on that, or I could travel and run away from the pain I was feeling due to the loss. Or I could do something I had always wanted to do and never truly committed to due to time and money. I could buy myself a camera, I could use photography as my form of therapy, escapism to get away from all the sadness in my heart and my mind and channel my energy to explore the world around me and create art; both things I know she would have been so proud of and excited to share with me. My mother was always so wonderful at celebrating our successes, never missing a game or dance recital, and I am sure she would have loved to sit at the computer looking at the pictures I took.

I looked over the pictures I had of her, the ones I still held onto from the days we had a darkroom and with those as my inspiration I bought my first DSLR Camera, the Canon Rebel XT. I spent precious time with that camera and it became part of my grieving process. Street photography was my first love. I would wander around aimlessly taking pictures of the urban landscape around me, I began to carry it everywhere with me. I had always loved travel, but now travel become even more exciting! Exploring new areas with my camera in hand was always very special to me. Travel was something my mother dreamed of but could never afford. Often when I would be wandering with my camera in foreign places I would stop and think of her, being grateful for what I had in my life and what she helped me achieve.

Over the years since my mother passed I have taken courses in photography and tried to photograph as much as I could, but again life often got busy and in the way of my love for documenting. Last year I became a mother and not having my mother to be part of that with me was very hard. Looking at my son often reminded me of her, and made me think about motherhood and how I could only hope to be half the mother she was. It makes me sad that he will never know his Grandmother, but through the power of story telling and photos I will be able to share her with him. The first thing I did when we set up his room was put a picture of her in it over looking his crib. I look at her pictures with him from time to time and tell him stories about her as much as I can, as often I am still full of pain to even speak of her.

Here I am, writing on my blog for my own photography business and I reflect on how it all started, a slow process throughout the course of my life always bringing me back to something that was a passion in my heart. It started off as a young child and the magic of the dark room, to documenting fun times with friends to then leading to a therapeutic process at a time I needed to loose myself. It’s very powerful how the creation of art can become therapy. We loose ourselves in the process of creation. We celebrate life in different ways and mediums and we reflect on the past and the world around us, sometimes in ways that may only make sense to us.

Through the birth of my son photography became a celebration of life and again a therapeutic process. Being a new mom can be hard and photography gave me that mom-life balance that we all need to honour ourselves with. Photography gets me out of the house, enjoying fresh air, exploring new areas and meeting wonderful people; all of which would energize me for when I returned home.  Being able to work with others and help them explore who they are through the power of the visual image, and document times of their lives is extremely special to me and I am grateful for all of the wonderful clients I have had a chance to work with.

In a time where photography is much more accessible and documenting our lives has been taken to new heights with the use of social media, I think the emotional connection with photography has not changed. We reflect on the visual image to revisit memories and celebrate life. I am honoured to be able to share my skill with people to help them capture their special memories that they will be able to share for years to come. I appreciate every moment I spend with my camera and every time I pick it up I reflect on what brought me to explore my passion and share it with others.

Tomorrow is the 9th year anniversary of my Mothers death and I want to thank her for always inspiring my to follow my dreams. I want to thank her for the gift of curiosity and creativity. I want to thank her for giving me confidence and a strong voice. I want to thank her for being my driving force behind the creative work I do. Most of all I want to dedicate the work I do to her and tell her that I love her so dearly. I hope she is looking down from wherever she is, seeing me snapping pictures of my son, wandering around working with other families, and watching over my shoulder through the endless hours of the night as I edit in peace with a smile on my face. Thank You Mom, you are my hero and my inspiration. I love you and I dedicate my work to you.

I hope my post has inspired you to go out and document the world around you with intention, print your images and sit around and tell stories about your lives, both the present and the past.

Thank you with much graditude for reading this post.

My mother pregnant with me, Rio de Janeiro 1976
My mom, her sisters and my grandmother on a beaches in Brasil
Myself (left) my littler brother and I think a babysitter? This is an image developed in our old darkroom
Pictures of me at one of my birthday parties, also developed in our dark room
A proud moment, becoming a Canadian, 1986
Me and my mother, during her Chemo process. 2006
The last day my mother went outside, and the last photo ever taken of her. Taken by my Tia Sonia. June 2006

Last photo ever taken of my mother by her sister Sonia.

North Vancouver, BC. June 2016


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