cover image by Caio Siqueira

Filipe Morgado Written by Filipe Morgado

Photowalk in Congonhas airport in São Paulo, Brazil with Click a Pé

This photowalk was memorable.

It is easy to explain why. This is what this photowalk is all about: be able to photograph in forbidden places. More than that, in a forbidden place and also from an unreachable spot for most people.

So amazing, \o/

This is what makes you jump from your bed when you wake up that day. Right? (for me it did :))



Colorful luggage carts | 16mm equiv.; f5,6; 1/800; ISO 100
Colorful luggage carts | 16mm equiv.; f5,6; 1/800; ISO 100

Also, that is what a passionate and very organized photowalk group can make. Thanks, Click a Pé!

By the title, I think you already know that I am talking about photographing in Congonhas Airport in São Paulo, Brazil.

So, let’s go for a photowalk in Congonhas!

Photowalking in Congonhas Airport, São Paulo

This was another incredible photowalk organized by Click a Pé. If you want to know more about them or participate in their events, read my photowalk in Minhocão. It was organized by them too.


Waiting... | 147mm equiv.; f4; 1/125; ISO 250
Waiting… | 147mm equiv.; f4; 1/125; ISO 250

Actually, two photowalks took place for this event, each of them with a different group of photowalkers. One during the morning and another one during the afternoon. This was made like that not to compromise the logistics and security of the airport.

Both groups were able to photograph inside the airport, what is not allowed if you just show up there with your camera. This includes day by day areas (like check-in and main hall), but also a special view from the runway, and some special rooms where authorities are received.

But, for a few people of the morning group, there was one more thing… Hehehe


Turning... | 38mm equiv.; f4; 1/15; ISO 800
Turning… | 38mm equiv.; f4; 1/15; ISO 800

As a way to say thanks for being a loyal participant of their photowalks (being in all or almost all photowalks during the last 12 months), some were invited to photograph the airplanes from a special spot. From the top of the firetruck and very near the runway. We also visited the whole building of the firefighters. Ops, I said, “we” … hahaha Yes!! I was in!! Yeah! \o/ It was so awesome and so much fun! Hahaha :).

This special spot was that restricted because there is no way of doing this for a lot of people. The firefighters should always be ready to rescue people if an accident happens. The airport was open, so they were also working. There were even special instructions for us, so that in case of an accident, we don’t hinder or disturb them in any way. They need to get to the accident fast! So, it is serious stuff.


Under the surface of the airport | 45mm equiv.; f4; 1/50; ISO 250
Under the surface of the airport | 45mm equiv.; f4; 1/50; ISO 250

I also discovered that there is a word for the ones that are fans of photographing airplanes, spotters! They do a variety of crazy things to get photographs of any airplane on Earth :). That day was my first try as one, let’s see how it was.

The Special spot

To start the event, Mariana Orsi gave us some instructions about the special photowalk of the day. After that, Camila Santos, an employee of the airport that was really nice with us that day and also very nice for making it possible for us to photograph there, told us about the history of the airport and some interesting facts.

The photowalk started with us going by bus to the other side of the airport and its runways. During the ride, everybody was very happy and anxious to photograph the airplanes.


Going to the special spot... Good morning (Portuguese: bom dia) and that look from the driver | 168mm equiv.; f4; 1/80; ISO 800
Going to the special spot… Good morning (Portuguese: bom dia) and that look from the driver | 168mm equiv.; f4; 1/80; ISO 800

When we got there, the firefighters gave us some safety instructions and positioned the firetruck.

Just a few people could be on top of the firetruck at the same time, so it was made in turns. While some were up there, the other ones were photographing at ground level and also visiting the firefighter’s building.


Our view of the runway from the top of the firetruck| panorama; 16mm equiv.; f5,6; 1/320; ISO 100
Our view of the runway from the top of the firetruck| panorama; 16mm equiv.; f5,6; 1/320; ISO 100

The runway in use that moment was, unfortunately, the farthest one. So, it was more difficult to photographs the planes. But in no way this made our experience less enjoyable. It also took a while for the first airplane to land, but after that many more landed. Imagine how anxious we were waiting for the first airplane hahaha.

Before we left, the firefighters also made a demo of their trick for us.

We stayed there for about 1 hour and 25 minutes. It was plenty of time to photograph the planes and visit firefighter’s building.


Inside firefighters building. Receiving a call from the red phone should not be a good thing :grimacing: | 16mm equiv.; f5,6; 1/30; ISO 500
Inside firefighters building. Receiving a call from the red phone should not be a good thing :grimacing: | 16mm equiv.; f5,6; 1/30; ISO 500

Continuing the photowalk

Second round! Now we joined the main group of the morning photowalk to visit some more places of the airport.

We started with a view of the runway from another great spot that was near the special rooms reserved for authorities. From this place, we saw the planes just after landing. You may have guessed it correctly. Yes, now we were near the end of the runway that was further away when viewed from the firetruck.


Airplane posing to us | 168mm equiv.; f5,6; 1/500; ISO 100
Airplane posing to us | 168mm equiv.; f5,6; 1/500; ISO 100

After that, we visited the authority’s rooms, but, for some of them, photos were not allowed. It was nice to visit it anyway. Probably, it was the only opportunity that I would have to visit that place in my life.

When coming back to the main hall to pose for the “official photo” of the photowalk, we saw Sidney Magal. He is a famous Brazilian singer. It is very common to see famous people in this airport, because they fly frequently from São Paulo to Rio de Janeiro (and vice versa) and Congonhas is responsible for the great majority of those flights.


Looking to his own future. I think they look like the same person. What do you think? | 93mm equiv.; f5,6; 1/40; ISO 800
Looking to his own future. I think they look like the same person. What do you think? | 93mm equiv.; f5,6; 1/40; ISO 800

After the official photo, it was over…. Well, actually, it was not!! :) Some extra time! Hahaha. We were allowed to be there the whole day.

Besides an awesome and very enjoyable photowalk, I was not pretty happy with my photos so far. So, I wanted more! Let’s try some few more. Let’s go!

I know that anyone that does photowalks or that likes to photograph probably have been asked by a security guard to stop photographing when visiting some place. That is so bad :(, but it happens. It has happened to me and I’ve seen it happening with many others too.

But that day was our day! No security guard could stop any of us!! \o/ Hahhaha It was sooooo awesome to be able to find a spot, get the tripod ready, attach my camera over it and just wait for a “decisive moment” to make an interesting photograph of the check-in area. I have seen the security passing in front of me twice, or maybe three times, without even giving “that look” to me. Like anything was happening, like no one was there with a camera and a tripod taking photos. It was so awesome!!! If it was an ad they would say that it was priceless :P. That is freedom and acceptance, my friend. So amazing.


After 25 minutes waiting for it, I've found an interesting moment to photograph \o/ | 16mm equiv.; f5; 1/5; ISO 125
After 25 minutes waiting for it, I’ve found an interesting moment to photograph \o/ | 16mm equiv.; f5; 1/5; ISO 125

Do you think that I was satisfied with just one of this “priceless moments”? Hahaha not at all. Just one more, ok?

But for this next one, I needed to wait for some time to be able to get the photo from the right spot. What do you mean, Filipe?

The only rule we needed to follow that day was that we couldn’t hinder people walking inside the airport. Makes total sense, right? So, I was not allowed to put myself and the tripod in the middle of a corridor or, for this specific photo that I wanted, in the middle of the main hall of the airport.

But, there was a way to do that without disturbing others. In front of the escalators, there was a seat. So, if I was there like I was sitting on it and with the tripod in front of me (where my legs would be), I thought that it was fine. That’s why it took some time. Not the best photo of my life, but it was fun and exciting :)


In the main hall of Congonhas, the ceiling lights represent the stars | 16mm equiv.; f22; 2s; ISO 100
In the main hall of Congonhas, the ceiling lights represent the stars | 16mm equiv.; f22; 2s; ISO 100

If you are curious about how long I’ve been in Congonhas for this photowalk, it took about 5 hours and 45 minutes.

Final notes

This was one of the greatest photowalks of 2017 for sure. So much fun! It was totally unique and exclusive and also very exciting and rewarding. As always, I’ve met some friends and talked to some new ones.

I’ve also visited the airport like I’ve never done before and I’ve done that the best way possible, by photographing it :)!

I would like also to say thanks again to Click a Pé, to Camila Santos, to the firefighters and also to all the other ones from Congonhas that were involved in our visit to the airport. All of them were so nice to us and made our visit much more enjoyable. Thanks a lot! :)