It is hard for me to describe Visura in words, for in the end I am a visual storyteller. But it is important for me to make an effort to share with the world what this company, and its founding members, can do for photography and for the photo community. Read on
It is hard for me to describe Visura in words, for in the end I am a visual storyteller. But it is important for me to make an effort to share with the world what this company, and its founding members, can do for photography and for the photo community.
For almost 4 years I had been working on one single project. I was investing all the extra time I had available, all the money I made, my mind, my body and my soul to raise awareness on the impact of mining in Brazil, and specially on my home State of Minas Gerais.
During this time, I offered my images for free for publications that refused it, applied to dozens of open calls that would often come with a negative result, I had a portfolio review with a curator that stood up and said "look at you, are not an activist, you have no idea what you are talking about", an import person in the photo field in Brazil told me that there wasn't important enough female photographers living out of photography in the country. Editors would tell me: your images are too abstract, they lack the digital sharpness or "you are not Burtynsky, he does this or that" and so on.
In January 2019 I decided I would back off from the cause. I was tired, I had no energy and I was basically broke. I decided I would give one last shot. I applied to an Open Call at Visura that a friend of mine forwarded to me.
A few weeks later a tailing dam from a mine that I knew was endangered broke, it killed 270 people. I was working on the field, having a lunch break with local members of the community and the social movement I am part of when I received Adriana's email. I remember I started shaking, I hugged a local legislator from the mining town and I told her:" if this is true everything will change".
A few hours later I was with Adriana (Visura founder) on the phone and she told me: "you are the winner". I burst down in tears. It was the first time someone really took a leap of faith in me. She went on: "I always like to speak to people over the phone, hear their voices while I tell them the news, it is what makes this work worthwhile". In that moment I knew I was dealing with someone human, compassionate and loving. She saw me. I felt blesses, contained and hugged.
Since then, I can not describe what has happened. And I always read reviews of winners saying "this prize changed my life, blablabla". I am afraid I will be one of the cliches repeating that phrase. Despite Adriana's effort to make me update my website frequently, I have been so busy that I haven't been able to. If you go to my news section you'll be able to see what I did in 3 months time after the prize, I did 5 times more since then. It is not short to say that it WOULD NOT have been possible without this prize. Planetary Health Alliance gave me legitimacy, Visura gave me the strength, the support and the network. I have been published (and paid) several times all through Visura network.
I took advantage of every single opportunity that started from them. From talking to politicians to becoming a recognized name in mining research and documentation in Brazil. Adriana pushed me to do better on my research, to have fact check information ready, she helped me step up to the next level. And, as promised to her, also in that first phone call, I always end my talks saying that I am a proud Latina woman in photography, being helped by many amazing women to break a glass ceiling that exists over our heads.
I would say all is in the past, but I am afraid I wouldn't be quite honest, it is still very hard to move forward with a documentary project, specially when it is done in a completely different fashion. Nevertheless the Visura team are now people that I see as my Latin family in New York. I know they are there, ready to help me, guide me and only - or less - than a phone call way. I am never alone in this endeavor and I will be forever grateful for it.