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- Wednesday, 04 September 2013 20:18 | Written by Matthias Tesi Baur
Alexandre’s interest in photography began as a teenager during his trips to Brazil and other countries.
He was studying journalism at PUC (Pontifícia Universidade Católica) in São when he made a four-month trip to Southeast Asia, covering India, Sri Lanka, Thailand, and Nepal. Back in Brazil, he published articles of this trip in some important magazines and newspapers in Brazil. In the same year, he began working at the newspaper, Folha de São Paulo, where he stayed for four years in the area of magazines. As a photojournalist, he did special articles related to the city of São Paulo and its characters and frequently worked publishing travel articles.
He left Folha de São Paulo in 2002 to dedicate himself to a personal project: an expedition by land in Latin America. With the support of VARIG airlines and FUJIFILM, for 11 months he travelled the continent, from South Argentina to Mexico, with the goal to register religious and cultural events of Latin American people. Back in São Paulo, he began collaborating with the main media vehicles in the country, such as the international agencies Reuters and Getty Images.
In 2004, he was invited to join the project ‘Saberes do Brasil,’ and he travelled to 47 cities in the five regions in Brazil. His photographs generated the photographic book, Brasil a Gosto, which shows the Brazilian culinary traditions. The photos of this book were shown in Bern, Switzerland and also in São Paulo at FNAC.
In 2008, he worked on the Land Rover project, ‘We Live to Tell Stories,’ to celebrate 60 years of the Defender. He made the photos for the book and for the campaign. He was also one of the protagonists on the TV show made for Discovery Channel.
In 2009, on assignment for Carrefour, he traveled again to Brazil, photographing small farmers and producers for the book, ‘Riquezas do Brasil.’
Nowadays, Schneider lives and works in São Paulo, collaborating with agencies and magazines and shooting campaigns and projects for advertising and editorial markets. His archive has approximately 15,000 photos from five continents. Part of his work is also in the collection of Getty Images and Sambaphoto.
1.Tesi: Being a food photographer is a creative profession many people dream of, but it is certainly not easy to stand out. What motivated you to become a photographer, and how did you discover your talent?
Alexandre: I started to photograph at 18 years old with my mom’s old camera that I found at home. I used to photograph my travels, and after a year, I decided to make my first portfolio. My first job was at Folha de São Paulo newspaper, where I worked for four years. After that, I quit the job to dedicate myself to a big project that I had always wanted to do: Make an expedition, crossing all of Latin America by land, from Ushuaia (south of Argentina) to Tijuana (north of Mexico). So, I made an 11 month trip by bus with the goal to register the culture of these countries, like markets of Latin America. After the project, I realised that I had great material of markets and food, so I started selling the articles to magazines – I wrote more than 20 articles for different publications.
Personally, I don’t consider myself a food photographer because for me, the most interesting part of food photography is the relationship between the people and the food. I found this relationship from being in people’s homes, photographing them in the fields, growing their food, and respecting nature. I used to go with them to the markets where they would trade their goods with other families, and finally, back home, I watched them prepare the food.
Through this work, I realised the great respect that poor families have with the food. They know how much work they put into growing, harvesting, and selling their food in the markets. In the kitchen, cooking the food, they don’t waste anything.
2.Tesi: Do you remember your first big job as a food photographer? What was the job about, and how did you manage to get it done?
Alexandre: In 2004, after my journey through Latin America, my photographs of my trip landed me a big opportunity. Ana Luiza Trajano – a Brazilian chef and owner of “Brasil a Gosto” restaurant – hired me to travel with her for four months in Brazil to research ingredients to improve her knowledge and incorporate them into her restaurant menu. I travelled with her from the Amazon to the South to create a photograph book for the restaurant. The book – “Brasil a Gosto” – won best photography cookbook at the 2010 Gourmand Cookbook Awards in Paris.
After this project, Carrefour invited me to travel once again through Brazil to photograph small producers of goods, like honey, fish, bread, sweets, and grains who would sell their products to Carrefour for a special line of natural products.
3.Tesi: What are the top three pictures you are most proud of? Can you give us some background information on each picture?
I took this picture in the countryside of Brazil at the south state of Rio Grande do Sul. I was staying in Dona Laura’s house for a week. She grows vegetables, make sweets every day, and every Friday she goes to the village to sell her products. I like this picture because of the purity of the image. Dona Laura was making a pumpkin sweet. The best thing about staying in people’s houses is that after awhile I become invisible – that is when I get the best pictures.
When I work in the field, I never use a flash to photograph people or food. I prefer to use natural light so I don’t disturb reality.
I took this picture of fish at the Manaus Fishmarket in the Amazon. Every day, fishermen from many communities that live by the Amazon river come with fresh fish to trade.
What I like in this picture are the colors of the fish and the shine of their skin, which shows their freshness. While it looks like I used a flash, the box of fish was on the floor, and the light is from a window.
The picture above is the wall of a kitchen of a simple house in the Amazon forest. One thing I realised travelling throughout the poor regions of Brazil and Latin America is that the kitchens are the centre of the house. It’s there where everything happens. The families have their meals together, the wood stove is always burning, and even in the simplest houses where they don’t have running water, the pots, the floor, and the utensils are always clean, which shows a lot of respect for the food and the area in which it’s prepared.
4.Tesi: What does good food mean to you?
Alexandre: Good food to me is when you will never forget the taste. It doesn’t matter if I ate in a restaurant or in a small house in the middle of the Amazon, when the food is good, I’ll remember the smell and the taste, and it will bring me back again to that place and my experiences there.
2010 – Book ‘Brasil a Gosto’ – Best Photography Book, Cookbook Awards, Paris. Cookbook Awards
2009 – Prêmio Abril de Jornalismo pela revista Veja
2007 – Prêmio Abril de Jornalismo pela revista Veja São Paulo
2006 – Prêmio Abril de Jornalismo pela revista Cláudia, especial Saberes do brasil
More information: firstname.lastname@example.org, based in São Paulo and available for assignments.