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Fotos for Favelas

September 30, 2012

Favela Rocinha is located in the heart of one of the most upscale neighborhoods in Rio de Janeiro. With roughly 200,000 residents it is the largest and the most developed shantytown in South America.

Artist Lais Lacher volunteered with Ticún Brasil as kids photography teacher in Rocinha. At the end of 2 month course Lais let the participants of the photography course use her Nikon D60 digital camera to capture their interpretations of the place they call home. The result is Fotos for Favelas series – not influenced by adults’ favela mythology, but rather a plethora of slice of life photography done by local kids with no political filters or artistic embellishments.

© Fotos for Favelas

“I went to teach English for one month, however when I got there and met the spirited children that were my students I saw the amazing opportunities for photography in Rocinha, I decided also to teach a photography class. I was impressed with the quality and creativity of
their photos and decided to continue the project from the United States as a fundraising opportunity for their community…With the money the day care center will be able to make improvements in the children’s after school and day care programs. The children will gain further confidence in their ability to change their lives and the lives of others through their hard work and creativity,” says Lais Lacher.

Léo Lima (known as Léo do Jacarezinho) was born, raised and lives in Jacare, one of Rio’s 600 favelas. His works at multimedia group “Imagens do Povo” (“Images of the people”), Brazilian NGO that teaches photography in favelas, are distinctive with poetic immediacy and honesty of an insider. Leo’s mission is to record the daily life of the favelas respecting human rights and local culture.

© Léo Lima. Fios e cores do Conjunto de Favelas do Alemao.

Ticún Brasil brought together Fotos for Favelas and Léo Lima’s photography for the exhibit at FB Gallery of Brazilian art in New York. “The main challenge was not to fall into stereotypes about Rio de Janeiro. Too often, the city is shown as either a paradise in the hills, or a city of contrasts, or a very violent and depressing place. Works that we display at the exhibit this week are distinctive with poetic immediacy and honesty of an insider, ” wrote Brazil NYC.

Orfeu Negro exhibit ©Alexander Ra

The works are impressive because they show an organic POV of a very different world that isn’t often documented,” concluded Heeb Magazine.

Following the exhibit, the article about Leo Lima was published at the largest website in Portuguese speaking world (UOL) and his exhibit opened in Rio de Janeiro. “I want my photographs to be known as artistic and political. Art for the art sake could be reflective, but lacks the political power of transformation. I’m not neutral, I have my politics and my photography has this bias and critical questioning. These are records of many lives that exist but never shown,” commented Leo Lima.

Ticún Brasil later helped organize a series of seminars for Fotos For Favelas kids. Imagens Do Povo send Léo Lima and photography professor Tatiana Altberg to teach the ‘Pinhole Project‘ in favela Rocinha. We wish best of luck to their new students!


“We put photo paper inside the can which reacts to light. There’s no need to focus or to set the aperture,” explains one of the amateur photographers, 13-year-old Julia.

Taking a pinhole photo demands patience. Whereas a digital camera can snap several images per second, to be immediately looked at, a pinhole camera demands standing still for seconds or for minutes, and only seeing the result once the film is developed.

Kids are taken by this other notion of time that is the opposite of the speedy world in which we live,” photography professor Tatiana Altberg said.

Find out how you can teach art in favelas and about other volunteering options in Brazil on our Ticún page.

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