By Chesney Hearst, Contributing Reporter

RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – Worldwide, people recognize Rio’s iconic images, the beaches, mountains, Carnival and vibrant lifestyles make the city a photographer’s dream destination. Anyone can capture all the city has to offer, the only requirement being a desire to get the image.

Camera phone photography at Pão de Açúcar, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil News
Visitors to popular Rio tourist destinations often use their phones to capture the moment, photo by Chesney Hearst.

Travelers, students or expatriates armed with camera phones, point-and-shoots, semi professional and professional kits often head first to popular tourist locations.

Arguably the most iconic picturesque destination is Christ the Redeemer. The statue can be seen from many locations in the city, so a trip to the top to photograph it, although recommended, isn’t the only way to capture the image.

The altitude of the statue causes it to become shrouded in clouds at times, making up close and personal shots difficult but at ground level there are some spectacular opportunities. Also the statue is illuminated at night, sometimes by different colored lights, so photographers should not shy away from shoots after dark.

However, security precautions when the sun sets (and in general in certain areas of city) should be made. Many professional photographers insure their equipment which helps in case of the worst scenario, on any location.

“There are places you have to be a bit more careful, but we don’t always know where they are,”says Ipanema-based photographer Sherolin Santos.

Explaining that she insures her equipment for ‘peace of mind” and later adding, “In saying that, if photography is just a hobby for you I don’t think you have to have insurance, you just have to be careful and always place your camera back in your bag once you take the shot … It just prevents those ‘hit-and-runners’ which are at the most tourists places around the world.”

The Pão de Açúcar (Sugarloaf Mountain) is another popular destination for shutterbugs and tourists. Located in the neighborhood of Urca, its summit can be reached by cable cars that run every twenty minutes and is a great opportunity for pictures, as is the shore of Praia Vermelha at its base.

Christ the Redeemer, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil News
Christ the Redeemer as seen from an apartment window in Botofogo, photo by Chesney Hearst.

For extended stays in the city, the options are limited only to the photographer’s imagination and determination. Photo opportunities await around every corner, with Carnival every year, and the architectural and social collage of the favelas, inspiration is everywhere.

When considering external shooting conditions, the sun in Rio can be a factor, especially around noon. Blow outs or blown highlights, where the sun bleaches out a majority of the picture, can and do happen.

Is it not always a bad thing and in fact, some photographers incorporate it into their works as part of the tropical sun experience.

Brazilian filmmaker Luiz Carlos Barreto, who began his career as a photographer, once said, “People, especially those who came from outside, weren’t used to the Brazilian light.” and that under the Brazilian sun one should, “Forget about the light and try to photograph the shadow.’”

Santos when asked how she dealt with sunlight during outdoor shoots told The Rio Times that it was “a bit tricky”. Advocating the ‘golden hours’ around dawn and sunset for good shots, she explained that after 8:30 AM, when shooting around the ocean, “Sand, water, everything is reflecting back sunlight at you and at your subjects.”

She added that when you lack the option of choosing a specific time of day, “You just have to use the sunlight in your favor and add it to the language of your shoot.”

It is up to the photographer to use what is available and make the images their own, no matter the equipment or experience level. If the desire to get the shot is there, the results will be rewarding, especially in Rio.


  1. First “real” tip: Use an actual camera (not a cell-phone type thing); if you do not think it will make any difference, then you do not know how to use a camera!


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