By Chesney Hearst, Contributing Reporter
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – Photographer Monalisa Marques reveals the heart and soul of Rio through portraits of its inhabitants in her year-long photo project, “Uma Pessoa Por Dia” (“A Person Per Day”). Similar to photographer Brandon Stanton’s Humans of New York project but with a distinctly Brazilian flavor, Marques takes photos of the people she finds around the city.
“Uma Pessoa Por Dia is a photographic challenge,” Marques told The Rio Times. “On January 1st of this year I had insomnia. My brain was in full swing, I was in love and I just couldn’t sleep. So I thought how fun a challenge like this could be.”
After consulting with friends, she created a Facebook fanpage and began the challenge, making her father the first “Person of the Day.” Using her Nikon D90, “preferably without flash,” she has taken portraits of people from all walks of life for the project.
“I love capturing unique moments, people’s expressions,” said Marques. “I love playing with composition and with the light-shadow play.”
When asked if the city had a character of its own Marques said, “Yes, it certainly does! It varies according to the weather, the hour, the recent events. It varies according to what we feel too.”
Recently on June 24th during the ongoing protests, Marques featured a man identified only as “Jonas.” He is pictured staring calmly into the camera while sitting in front of his orange tent pitched outside of Rio de Janeiro Governor, Sérgio Cabral’s residence on Rua Aristides Espíndola in the Leblon neighborhood.
Jonas was a member of the “Ocupe Delfim Moreira” (Occupy Delfim Moreira) movement, a group who protested against government corruption by camping in front of the Governor’s home for days. When Marques took Jonas’ photo, she states that he was contemplating whether to continue to stay there or leave.
Marques has also captured several people at their jobs including “Ina” the Bob’s (fast food chain) worker; “Terezinha,” the seamstress pictured by her sewing machine with brightly colored spools of thread above her; Dentist Luiz Filipe peering down at the camera lens wearing his mask and protective eye-ware; and “Marconi,” a street performer painted silver wearing a crown starting his shift of the day.
Marques has approached people in order to take their photo on the streets, in restaurants and shops going about their daily lives.
“I’m learning more about people and how to deal with them,” Marques said. “I was very shy in the beginning… Now I don’t care that much to take a “no” – cause I ask before taking the picture.”
“My friend Sheyla Santos was one of the people in Monalisa’s pictures,” Rio resident and writer Marçal Vianna told The Rio Times. “I love this project,” said Santos. “The best of part of this is seeing ordinary people with cool histories. … People like us.”
When asked when the project will end and what’s next for her as a photographer Marques said; “Well, according to the challenge, it’s duration is one year. So, its end date is expected to be January 1st. But I’m having too much fun with it… I don’t know if it’ll really end.”
The complete gallery of photos and the ongoing challenge can be seen here.