Finding My Passion
When I was thirteen, my mother and I returned to our home country of Bahia, Salvador, Brazil to live with her boyfriend and two children. While living in Bahia, we began to make monthly trips to a small village in the outskirts called Maragogipinho. Having grown up in the United States, the annual trips we took to Brazil were not enough to prepare me for the culture shock I experienced during our visits to this small village.
We traveled by land and ferryboat, to what seemed to be the end of the world. A place where everyone stood outside their front door or hanging out of their window watching as we drove past in our car. Our “Sitio” (house on a farm) had no electricity or indoor plumbing and so I quickly learned that my discman, curling iron and blow dryer were of no use. At the time, I was your typical American teenager carrying a caboodle filled with items that would be useless at the sitio plus an overstuffed suitcase that could have easily clothed all the children of that small village.
Maragogipinho, unlike the larger cities of Brazil, is practically free from Western influence. The lives of the people who live in small villages, are a raw version of what the now westernized cities of Brazil once were. These people live off of the land, utilizing the earth’s natural resources and living without the latest technology. Maragogipinho is beautiful because of its simplicity.
At the age of fifteen, I moved back to the United States with my daughter to live with my father and step-mother. While my daughter and I continued our visits to Brazil, we had not been able to revisit Maragogipinho. It wasn’t until my first photography class in college that I began to daydream of all the faces I had once encountered in that tiny village. These faces tugged at my heart strings and pleaded with me to find a way back.
Eight years after having left Brazil, a desire to capture what I had seen years before landed me in the small village where little had changed. Coming from New York City, where things seem to transform in the blink of an eye, Maragogipinho is a gateway to what once was. This was my first photo documentary and it was instrumental for me as a photographer; both in helping me understand my passion to candidly capture people, culture and tradition but also in helping me share my voice and heart with the world around me. Up until then I had been very shy and had a hard time expressing myself. Photography became a vehicle for me to share my voice and passion.
With deepest gratitude for everyone who has journeyed with me thus far.
Maragogipinho, Bahia, Brazil. Photo: www.judithrae.com