Brazil and the making of a travel photographer
For as long as he can remember, Brazil has had special significance to Italian travel photographer Antonino Bartuccio. After the Second World War, his uncle travelled to Sao Paolo for work and never returned to his native Sicily. For thirty years, Nino heard his father say ‘Next year we’re definitely going to Brazil to visit my brother’. But they never went.
Some years later, when Nino Bartuccio’s own life underwent a sea-change, a vacation was ordered. Where should he go but Brazil, following in the footsteps his father never took?
Nino told us that “On my first trip, I stayed with my cousins in Sao Paolo and although I found myself uncomfortable in the big cities of Sao Paolo and Salvador de Bahia, I couldn’t believe I was in Brazil at last: For so long, Brazil had only existed in my imagination. The madness of Rio was fascinating, and I found myself at home in the small town of Porto Seguro.
I couldn’t afford to stay long, and came back to Sicily, but just 3 months later I was back in Brazil. I went to see the Carnival in Rio before travelling the country from north to south, town to town, carnival to beach, learning Portuguese along the way. I ate, slept and breathed Brazil, taking whatever work I could find to continue my travels. I was spellbound by the natural beauty of the Iguacu Falls and it was there that I first used the cheap digital camera I’d brought with me. I remember I had a fiddly manual focus lens and my earliest results were quite hit and miss, but this was the moment I truly fell in love with beguiling Brazil and the art of photography. My path was set.
From that day on, I stopped being a tourist. I was a photographer. I had a purpose. I was drawn to all aspects of Brazilian life: its people, its children, its natural beauty and teeming wildlife. I travelled the Amazon, spending time with the Waurà Indians and my trips became longer and longer – two months, then three, then four. I remember that on another trip to the Rio Carnival, my cousin exclaimed that the reason she loved me was because I made her country Brazil look so good!
Since meeting Sime Photo back in Italy, I’ve never looked back, and on the same trip home, I met Carmen, my wife to be. Of course our honeymoon had to be in Brazil!”
The pictures from that trip through the length and breadth of Brazil forms the backbone of the Brazilian photography collection. Bartuccio often uses the Portuguese word ‘Saudade’ when he talks about Brazil. The word has no direct translation in English. The closest we can get in English is “longing”, but this longing has a melancholy edge, a fear that the object of our desire may never be reached again. Perhaps Antonino Bartuccio’s desire to capture the very essence of the country through his photography is driven by this same longing, by the pain of separation from his adopted home.
What we see in Nino Bartuccio’s pictures is more than a series of travel images: they are the product of a passion, almost an obsession, which has seen Bartuccio pour his soul into his work. They are as far removed from ‘stock’ as it’s possible to get.