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By Georgia Grimond, Senior Contributing Reporter

RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – The eleventh edition of Paraty Em Foco (or Paraty in Focus), an international photography festival, begins tomorrow, September 23rd, and runs until September 27th. Considered one of the ten largest international photography gatherings, it attracts participants and guests from all over the world. Workshops, lectures, exhibitions, documentaries and shows will all take place over the four days and 2015 sees the launch of the Paraty in Focus Award for artists living in Brazil.

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An exhibit at the 2014 Paraty international photography festival, photo by Sara di Santis, courtesy of Paraty Em Foco.

The theme of this year’s festival is “Representation and Self-Representation in the Age of Electronic Devices”. Looking at the selfie events will examine how photography has changed as it has become available to the masses largely through the use of smartphones.

“In the age of electronic devices and network communication, each runs his own show,” reads the festival’s introduction. “In theory, the individual today owns the complete construction of its image, as if each of us had a marketing agency at our disposal.”

“And the photographer? We are of the theory that in a world where everyone photographs, the photographer is the one who edits, who builds narrative, bringing in more and more of a picture with origins in oral history. The memory of the future depends essentially on these storytellers.”

Visitors can attend close to twenty workshops. For example, Bruno Veiga, an award-winning Carioca photographer, will be holding “An endless debate about politics and photography”. Edu Monteiro, a visual artist, photography and researcher, will talk about “Contemporary self-portraits” and two members of the Photographic Museum of Humanity, the first online photography museum, will focus on the internet and photography in “Photography 2.0”.

Other guests include the Australian photo-autobiographer and documentarist Max Pam; Antoine D’Agata, a French photographer for Magnum; Arno Rafael Minkkinen, a Finnish-American photographer, educator, curator and writer; and Brazilians Christian Cravo, Krenak, Agnaldo Farias and Marcio Scarvone.

Workshops can be reserved in advance and payment is made directly at Casa PEF on Rua Dr. Pereira 33. The media tent hosts free lectures every day which require no booking. There is a bookshop dedicated to photography and many other exhibitions and events to attend around the town throughout the festival.

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Paraty is a Portuguese colonial town situated on a natural harbour, photo by Sara di Santis, courtesy of Paraty Em Foco.

Paraty is a Portuguese colonial town situated 250 km from Rio on the Costa Verde, or Green Coast. Built around a bay it was an important port during the gold rush of the late 1600s when ships from Portugal would deliver slaves and supplies to the town and then return to Europe laden with gold brought from states in the interior.

When pirates and thieves began to attach the mule trains transporting gold the area went into decline, experiencing a few resurgences over the decades, including with the coffee and cachaça industries. In the Seventies a new road vastly improved access to the town and since then Paraty has become a popular tourist destination, offering a diverse selection of pousadas, excellent restaurants and many cultural events, such as FLIP, a literature festival, and Paraty Em Foco.

Pousada Porto Imperial, a 46-bedroom mansion with a sauna, pool and new pool bar, is offering packages over the festival which include breakfast, valet parking and no extra charge for children under five years old. Casa Turquesa, a charming boutique hotel in the historic centre, is offering a three-night stay for the price of two over the festival. Listed on the festival’s website is number of other recommendations for accommodation, food and activities.

Paraty is best reached by car or bus. Costa Verde coach company leaves Rio frequently throughout the day and takes approximately four hours to get to the town. The festival runs daily from Wednesday to Sunday, from 10AM to 11PM.

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