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Photos to Inspire Last Updated: Dec 15th, 2012 - 23:02:00

Photos to Inspire: Paulo Fridman
By Lynne Eodice
Feb 2, 2011

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Brazilian born Paulo Fridman is one of the most widely published photographers working abroad. During the '80s, he studied in New York City for six years at the International Center of Photography and RIT. Today, he is shooting assignments for major magazines and corporations. He has photographed over 250 magazine covers internationally, and has recently completed a book entitled "Talking Images."

© Paulo Fridman

Double Exposure: What first inspired you to become a photographer?

Paulo Fridman: I am a civil engineer who had a dream of becoming a musician and became a photographer. All joking aside, I always had images in my mind. When I was 8 years old and one of the best students in my class,  the school gave me an award, and along with this award there were many packages, and inside one of these packages...there was a camera!

© Paulo Fridman

DE: What part of Brazil do you live in?

PF: I live in Sao Paulo with almost 20 million other faces.

DE: Do you travel a lot to shoot pictures?

PF: Yes I travel quite a bit. In the last month I was in the Amazon doing a story for Paris Match on deforestation, Brasilia, Rio de Janeiro, and several small cities around Sao Paulo.

© Paulo Fridman

: It appears that you really enjoy photographing people. Aside from this, what are your favorite subjects to photograph?

PF: I love photographing anything where I can be loose and creative. Usually people hire me to "take milk out of stones."

DE: Are you shooting commercially? If so, who are your clients?

PF: I shoot for Embraer, the aircraft industry in Brazil, General Electric, Nike, The Discovery Channel, Nestle, and Wal Mart, among others.

© Paulo Fridman

DE: Tell us about your book, "Talking Images." What made you decide to do a photographic book like this?

PF: It was March, 1999, at a street market in the Vila Madalena neighborhood, Sao Paulo. I'm there, at the corner of Mourato Coelho street. A black cloth provides an infinite depth of field--it's my open air studio.

I photograph anonymous persons. I also give them a pen and a blank sheet of paper and ask them two questions: What is your dream? And what about Brazil's future? One of the first persons I photographed was an old lady, ragged and untidy. She made a living by picking discarded aluminum cans. I read her elaborate text, which, in impeccable Portuguese, complained about the country's lack of ethics. At the end, she signed: Maria Augusta, 80 years old, attorney-at-law, formerly a teacher. I was astounded!

© Paulo Fridman

Thus, I began this photo essay--after such a shock, I could do nothing but carry on. I would then visit several locations in Sao Paulo--the Republica and Batata squares, the Paulista and Faria Lima avenues--and other places in Brazil, going to streets, schools and urban outskirts. I photographed people and gave them an opportunity to speak. Then, provided with those portraits, texts and (often) drawings, I returned to the protection of my studio and superimposed them. It was a digital reinterpretation I called "Talking Images."

Almost eight years later, while walking the same Mourato Coelho street, I saw an old lady that was dragging a small cart full of aluminum cans. We then talked.

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