Experience

Fabio Costa: I Do Not Get Attached to a Specific Moment – I Look for the Next One

Art director Fabio Costa told Bird in Flight, why he left Brazil for France and why it is easier to shoot in Paris than in São Paulo, where shooting people is the easiest, how the people have changed in the ten years that he has been doing street photography and what these years changed in him.

Fabio Costa Age 37

Born in São Paulo (Brazil). Since 2010 has been living in Paris, works as an art director at an advertising agency.

My passion for photography came when I wasn’t happy with my previous job and I was attending Art History classes. I figured out that I couldn’t draw or paint, so I chose photography as a medium to express myself, even though at the time I had no artistic ambition. Since my birthday in 2005, I’ve photographed daily and that taught me a lot about the world and myself. Photography has changed my life and the way I see it.


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At first, I shot with a 1.3 MP point-and-shoot camera and I shot absolutely everything. I wasn’t afraid of experimenting. I’ve changed trajectories and routes seeking after something new. In no time I’ve grown fond of urban scenes, people, situations and connections. That’s my universe.


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I left Brazil for several reasons. I’ve always wanted to live abroad, and my girlfriend was accepted into a master’s degree program in France, which is a country that breathes art with many famous museums, artists, and photographers that I like that lived or still live here. It seemed like an ideal opportunity to move to Paris to spend the year. I’ve found a job in my area in no time even with the language barrier, and I got used to living here.


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In São Paulo I had less time to shoot, very often I made pictures from my car, in a traffic jam, and sometimes I was afraid of being mugged. In Paris, I have more time for myself, I walk to work, I have my camera in the open all the time, because I have a smaller chance of being robbed, and I feel at ease.


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I travel not as much as I would like to, more like once or twice a year.

I would love to go back to New York and London as often as possible. I’ve got a feeling that people there couldn’t care less to be photographed.

I would especially like to go to Japan – I love the culture, the art, the food. I have many friends of Japanese origin in São Paulo and this further sparked my desire.

I have several favorite images. In the one below it was my double anniversary, my birthday and daily photo shooting, I was out on the street, and I met this old man with his dog and decided to follow them. He got a small plastic bag, filled it with air, tied it to a string that he used to take his dog for a walk with and started playing with him. It had unique beauty. Like children playing on the street, unconcerned about life around, plus I love the lines on the wall that complete the scene. I followed the man a bit more and we got to know each other, and at the end we went to his house and talked for hours. A lovely meeting and a gift on that special day.


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Here is another one. There was an exhibition of the photographer Li Wei at the Parc de la Villette in Paris and I’ve found this scene that could complete it like a surrealistic painting with images in the background. There was a group practising Capoeira, I just needed to find the perfect timing. I love the movement where the real and the dream got mixed up, that every character has it’s own space.


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I was invited in 2010 to be part of the collective Vivo. At the time I had no idea what it was to be a Street Photographer. Because of the collective I’ve met so many nice people with the same passion. I am also part of a Brazilian collective called Flanares, and will soon be launching a French collective.


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I don’t really feel any change in how people reacted to photographers in 2005 and now. Maybe a bit because now I get closer to people. At first, I had a romanced view that there was no problem, but now I realize that I took less risks. With time I’ve learnt to avoid conflict and shoot as calmly as possible, and in case any problem appears I delete the photo, apologize and continue on my way. Incredible things happen all the time, I try not to get attached to a specific moment, I’ll look for the next one.

My main fear is that I feel some people are paranoid of being photographed and react aggressively.


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I was once told that a work of art is 100% from the author until he shows it to someone else, it then becomes 50% from the author and 50% from the audience, and each person completes it differently. For me, a good photograph is one that I see and don’t forget.


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To begin with you need to get to really know your camera. Buy less equipment and more books. Apart from photographs by the great masters look for inspiration in all kinds of art, paintings, movies. Be curious, stay alert, feel the moment. Don’t worry if your picture can’t be classified as a street photograph, or if you are not following the rules, just do it. Take photographs, do it a lot, and have fun!


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