cover image by Fabio Marujo
Photowalk in Municipal Market of São Paulo (Brazil) with Foto Rolê
You have no idea how I like this “little thing” called photowalks :)!
It is so useful to discover new places (even in my own city!), to meet inspiring people, to have my own moment that I spend doing something that I love, and a very important reason, to practice photography.
This is actually the reason that created the spark needed to start Foto Rolê photowalk group. This was my first photowalk with them, it was in Mercadão (Municipal Market of São Paulo), and it was really good :). But…
What is the first thing you think about a market? The products? Fruits, vegetables, meat, spices… Right? Yes, usually that is what people think. But that was not the most part of my photography there… I think you know it… Usually, photographers think and see the world from a different perspective.
Wait… How is that possible, Filipe? I’m not getting it. Can you help me? Sure! I’m here to help you :). Just keep reading and if you need more help, send me an email (to do it just subscribe, blue button) or ask in the comments below.
Let’s see what I’ve discovered there and how you can have a great experience photowalking there too ;)
About Foto Rolê
As I’ve mentioned, this photowalk was organized by Foto Rolê. Their first photowalk took place on August 26, 2017 and was born by the desire to practice photography by Rafael Franco. Better than me explaining how everything started, I think it is a good idea to listen to him telling how it was (my translation from Portuguese).
“After buying my first DSLR in July 2017, I began to realize that I had to study hard to learn how to make minimally acceptable photographs, otherwise I could continue photographing with cell phones, compact cameras, superzoom or any other type of camera that my photograph would always be the same.
To my surprise, studying was not the only solution. By learning the exposure pillars (ISO, diaphragm, and shutter) I noticed that it took much more than putting in M (manual) mode and knowing the causes and consequences of each exposure pillar. It was necessary to have the agility to change camera’s configuration in each click.
But how to get that agility without practicing? So let’s practice! I’ve trained with my wife, with the cat, with the dogs, with the plants, from the balcony, but nothing, my photos were still boring.
Consulting some photography youtubers, the most repeated tip between them was: “go out to photograph”, “let’s go to the streets, our battlefield”. So I decided to start to search for groups that did photowalks.
I don’t know how to explain this to you, but maybe it was ignorance, or lack of experience, or anxiety, or maybe all them together, but I could not find on the internet any group that organizes photowalks for free. That’s when I decided to post in a facebook group about photography, asking who from São Paulo would like to organize a photowalk group to improve our skills photographing on the streets of São Paulo.
“That simple action was enough to get a flood of questions about what it would be like. It was then that some guidelines and premises of the group began to appear, including its name “Foto Rolê”."
Wow, this is so amazing. Please, read at least the beginning of this article.
Can you see? It is almost the same reasoning to start to photowalk! When I talked to him and he explained to me about the origin of his group like this (what you’ve just read), it was instantaneous identification :). And I also really liked that he created a group to be able to do it when he hasn’t found one, \o/.
Nowadays, Rafael is not leading the group anymore (be strong Rafael!). Now, Pollyanna, Laura, and Kiss are organizing the photowalks. Either way, Foto Rolê keeps going and organizing great photowalks for us :).
Let’s see how to get to Mercadão…
Planning – How to get there and how to do it by yourself
Mercadão is located in São Paulo downtown area. The nearest subway station is São Bento. How to get there? I will make your life easier with the map below.
If you don’t want to go there by subway, just click on the map (“more options”) and change the origin of the route ;). By the way, the route in the map starts on São Bento’s exit that is located in Ladeira Pôrto Geral (near 25 de Março), but this is not the only exit of this station.
Our photowalk started at 10 AM and we had the authorization to photograph there until 3 PM. Plenty of time to enjoy.
If you want to do this photowalk by yourself, it is possible, but it is a good idea to get the authorization with the administration of Mercadão. I don’t think you want to be annoyed by security guards stopping you during your photowalk, but this can happen. Contact them on email@example.com and enjoy the walk.
Photowalking in Mercadão (Municipal Market of São Paulo) and what I’ve seen and discovered there
For this photowalk, my plan was to photograph first with the wide angle lens throughout Mercadão. After lunch, I would do the same thing, but with the other lens (longer focal length) to get the details of things.
Why did I want to start with the wide lens and not the opposite? Because I’m still wanting to get better and practice more with it (it is my newest lens, about 1 year old), so it is my most important thing right now.
I thought that after lunch, I would be tired and when this happens it will start to get much more difficult, so the experience and the results are not the same. Actually, it was exactly what have happened. A good planning will help you to enjoy the photowalk at its maximum, doing something that is more meaningful for your first, so you can enjoy more your time :).
I liked to photograph with the wide angle. The corridors are not that big, there are other people in your way, so it was much easier (and possible) to get the whole front of a store with it, for example.
Mercadão is so awesome to photograph. The variety of styles that you can do there is really big. So, you can get interesting photographs there with any lens, choose it based on what you want to photograph.
Mercadão is easily recognizable by its architecture and its stained glasses. So, you can shoot its architecture, but also the people, the colors and obviously a lot of different products, fruits, vegetables, nuts, cheese, meat and so on and much more amazing details, it is just a matter of finding them. But there is one more thing that you can shoot there…
For me, Mercadão is all about light. The light was what caught my attention the most. Many sources of light, from the translucent part of its hoof to the lighting of the stores. Some very soft, others very focused (hard light), some in between the products creating all kinds of different effects of lighting interacting with objects.
But you will have to distill the confusion of its environment to create your shots. It is like everything is calling your attention at the same time. All those colors, the different sources and intensities of light, products, people, sounds, smell… wow… a lot of information bombarding you. It is not easy, hahahaha. But you can have a good photography moment there and have fun :).
To have a better image, clean, simple, objective, with a clear subject, and not with many things fighting for the viewers attention, my first suggestion is to shoot details, even macro. This is probably the easiest way to go and avoid messy photos.
You can also try to find interesting moments, like people doing curious or remarkable things, their emotions and facial expressions, the combination or composition of simple but interesting objects and colors. Or, you can just shoot the light \o/.
In the beginning, It took me some time to start to really get in the photowalk. Not just because of the busy environment, it happens sometimes for me. I need to start to make photographs, even when it is not a good one, just to start to get in the flow. But, sooner or later, it happens and then it is awesome. I think it is just a matter of concentration and focus.
During the photowalk, from time to time I came across with moments that I was delighted by a simple but yet beautiful stuff. I will talk more about this in future posts.
I have also a little story from one of the photos, that I would like to share with you.
I was walking there and saw this thing similar to a container, but that also looked like a big freezer. In spite of the lock on the door, it was opened that time and I could listen to somebody inside it doing something.
Then I thought, hum… it would be fun if I could photograph that person exactly when walking out the "container"…
So, I started to compose the shot. Being very sincere with you, I was not thinking that it could work. But, why not? Worst case I would get the door opened, its shape, texture, and geometry. But…
When I pressed the shutter, the man came out! Wow! I was not believing, hahaha! Actually, I even got a fright that moment, probably, that is the reason for the blurry photo (shaken). But I don’t care that much. I don’t have to deliver a product afterward, we are not working, that is not the purpose. I was there to photograph just to enjoy life, discover new things, create ;). So, the story and the experience is more important than the results, enjoy your moment, \o/.
It was not just me, the man also got a fright, hahaha. But as he saw that I was as surprised as him, he didn’t get annoyed and even said hi to me hahaha :)
I’ve tried this in other doors throughout Mercadão too, but without success. Sometimes it works, it is just a matter of giving chance so that things can happen.
After lunch (main restaurants are in the mezzanine and are more expensive than those at the ground level), I got more shots with the wide angle lens of the architecture of Mercadão from the mezzanine.
After that, I’ve switched to the other lens and started to walk with the intention of shooting details.
About one hour more, I was tired. Not physically tired, mentally tired. Do you know when you start to get impatient to really look, observe and find things?
It starts to get difficult to focus and create interesting photography. I end up just going through places and not really paying attention and discovering more about it.
This is exactly what I don’t like to do when traveling or photographing somewhere. So, time to stop and go home.
As you can see, it was a great photowalk. And I’ve finally visited the most famous market in my own city hahaha.
What other activity would make me go there? Probably none. Why would I cross the city to get to the downtown area (not a good place) just to visit Mercadão, discover its details and observe? That’s the power of photography and the power of a photowalk for me.
I was also not expecting what I’ve seen there, and I’m not talking about something related to photography. I’m talking about the market itself. It’s a pretty nice place, much better than the great majority of markets that I’ve seen. It is not perfect, of course, but much much much better than its surroundings, for instance. I can even say that it is an oasis in the downtown area.
I can also say that I felt comfortable photowalking there. I’ve not felt threatened in any moment. I don’t think you need to be in a group to photowalk there. But I’m talking about inside the market, ok? It’s surrounding is not that safe and if you want to try, make sure to go in a group (if you are a foreigner, find a local to go with you).
It was also a great time for me to create my photography, enjoy my life, and focus all my attention into doing just one thing, on photographing and living the pleasurable moments that it can provide.
A great way to come back home very fulfilled, relaxed and happy :)
Remember, photographers see the world from a different angle :).
I really appreciate your time reading my post. Thank you ;) See you…
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