May 25, 2013

Lisbon Stories (17)

I knew João was leaving the country, by Springtime maybe, we talked about it. Maybe Switzerland, he said, or Luxembourg. It was kind of our secret. He used to work in the cinema industry in Portugal as a man in charge of generators, but was left out of work when the austerity begun. He met a lot of famous people. Cameron Diaz and other names I forgot but know are important in the industry. Once, someone at the bar thought it was strange that I did black-and-white. Why not color, he asked. João got angry and shook his head in disdain. How ignorant, he said. He is a tough but noble man.

Today I knew that João, at 54, left the country for South Africa.

May 12, 2013

Lisbon Stories (16)

Friday morning at Café Africano, in the riverside neighborhood of Dafundo, Lisbon coast: the usual gathering of unemployed men, oddjobbers, and retired elders. I carry with me a small thermal transfer printer (think of the system as a souped-up Polaroid,) set it at a table and ask the guys who would be the first to have his picture taken. Most of them know me and feel at ease with my work, so I have no trouble getting volunteers. Mr. Sequeira, a retired gentleman who never drinks anything, is the first. I ask Fernando to hold the speedlight for me. Fernando lives under a railway bridge by the riverside and is trying to save €5 to pay for a haircut, but his coins always find their way to Euclides’ counter to be exchanged for wine cups. He soon becomes an expert at flash photography. When his turn comes, I ask Mr. Marinho to hold the speedlight and Fernando gives him some professional hints. ’You have to see me through the little hole in that white card,’ he says, and Mr. Marinho nods. 
Damn, I had never thought of that.