Brazil's Famous Flickr Photographer

The content of Tatiana Cardeal‘s photography is firmly rooted in her native country of Brazil, but her intimate lens and universal themes have generated a wide following of Flickr fans from all over the globe. Last week I emailed Tatiana with questions concerning her photography, her country, her life, and her weblog. What follows is her reply with selections of her photography.

No More Lies?

tropeirosIn the last months, we Brazilians, are suffering day and night with the political news. So much corruption was discovered of the governament. You probably know how president Lula (and the Worker's Party) was symbolic and strong for us, and how much hope we had on this election… but power seems to corrupt everything, and now we are shocked by all those daily lies, after beliving so strong on the Worker's Party flag, wich has the ethic as their first priority. What a shame, and how sad.

I'm very depressed right now about all this. That's one of my motives to say “no more lies“. So, this is a kind of way to give life for those unpublish images and scream about our society. I'm angry with the politics, but I'm also frustrated with the usual cultural being of our Brazilian's society, specially the “midle class”. I'm not sure how to translate, but we have here the richs (a few of very rich and powerfull people), the poors, wich means a large population living in misery, and the “midle class”, which means are not so poor but certainly not rich. Those people see what is happening, but they don't act. Not only about the political ways, protesting, but also the daily problems. One of our most rich and important city in Brazil is São Paulo, were I live.

It's the third big city of the world, and we can see exactly those three words here, and it's easy to see them. You stop on the street and you'll see expensive car, black windows closed, armored, and a lot of poors, street kids asking money, food… it's everywhere. How people can sleep with that? Faking blind about those things rising, growing day by day? They lie for themselves everyday. That's how I see, but sometimes I feel I'm that one, out of the Matrix, LOL.

Why English?

world social forumAbout writing in english, well, first was a coincidence. I started to publish my pictures on Flickr, and there weren't many Brazilians there as we have now. First I wasn't writing, just showing images, and I was shy about write in english, because I'm not that good on that. But people started to talk with me and asking things about my photos… I started to write. Them I decided to spread the World Social Forum, wich is a fantastic meeting, developing every year, with people from all the world (200.000 came in last january!), and I know the EUA, China, and some others countrys mass media don't use to talk about it. So I decided to make some “publicity” of that, showing the pictures and adding some words and links about. It was the beggining of my blog too. I worked more than ten years as designer and art director for many brazilians magazines, newspapers… but I started tired about, because it is always a world about a few people, a minory class with money to buy things. I was getting exhausted about the market laws and lies, always selling things on the magazines, always private interests behind. I quit my work, and decided to find other possibilities.

That's where I am now! Trying to find ways to show those people and historys without voice, those people wich are not on the magazines, trying to feel alive, and doing something which I believe. It's a hard way, I'm not makin money, I'm spending all I get working those years, but I still believe I'll find a way. I'm now writing a project, trying to find resources to continues my work in a professional way. For sure, I want to have a blog published in portuguese and english, but for now, I have time only for one language, and I can't pay english classes, so I use this as an excuse to continues improving the language. My audience should be people from all the world, sharing experiences and showing my country. European, Asiatics and Americans don't seems to know how people live here, or our culture, and I hope I can tell about that. My dream is to help social programs and to approach cultures. I believe if it happens, the approach of cultures, war should be not so easy to happen.

Urban Outcries

gritos urbanosI believe there is no better one to talk about the Urban Outcries than Gregory, from CARF, but I'll tell you how I see the program. I met him last year on Flickr, looking his pictures and his words. I couldn't believe when I met his program! So rare and powerfull! Everyone in São Paulo has seen those kids on the streets, but when I saw that man from Norway doing that work on a smallholding in the urban periphery of Diadema, I just couldn't believe! So, I imediatly started to talk with him and we became friends. I wanted to help, but I don't have money to send, so i decided to give them my work. The Urban Outcries is a piece of the social program, I think is a trimestral happening, always with a theme, it's a comunication program not only to divulge the NGO work, but most important for that population to discuss a lot of problems they live. And those who organize the meeting are those youth Social Entrepreneurs, who lived in the streets before. The program uses not only to invite people to share themes, discussions, but also use all the popular cultural ways, as their music, dance, idols… It's a fantastic way to create deep roots, to give to that people the self believing they need.

Speaking Through Pictures

What you choose to photograph, is what you choose to talk about. That's how I see. Images are a language that everybody can read. For me the social contents are important, so I photograph them. It's my way to talk about, and to call people to think about. Sometimes I also like to talk about self knowledge, about inner experiences, but that is because I'm looking for my personal style and because for me became important to be me, to give meanings to my existence, to act as part of a linked world, as I see and feel the world.


old manAhh, for sure I have some favorites as Gregory, from Carf, because he really lives what he believes, and I admire him so much for doing that. I really admire AnomalousNYC, wich has not only a beautiful photostream, but also a strong way to make people thinking about America, Palestine and world. Marcelo Montecino's work – can't find words to say how I feel about his work. He faced death so many times to be able to tell us how was those days in Latin America… I'm always thankfull for his work, and he is my hero. With all the repression at the dictatorial days, we don't have many documents about what happened here, we don't have nothing on the newspapers or magazines from that time. So, what we know about 20 years of our history can be learned just looking his photos. It's a history book. Ayeona, is a special girl who became a great friend. A whisper from the other side of the world who gaves me such inspiration by her friendship. She has the that special way to look the world. That way as the ancestors use to look… very simple, very natural, very honest.
I made all the Indigenous sets thinking of her. We have the Indigenous Tribal Pool together.

But there are so many others, so many good ones, and I could divide them in many categorys, quality of images, creativity… I could spend a night here writing about my favorites.


  • What Tatiana Cardeal is actively doing in Brazil is what very few middle-class Brazilians would even think of doing.
    “Let’s just get on with our lives and leave all the rest to the others!” is a far too common attitude in this otherwise so incredibly wealthy melting pot of peoples and cultures, where most people are simply running a gigantic rat race of survival and where its leaders offer so very bad models (although I still believe in Lula, but as with all good political leaders, he also depends on having confident and ethical people around him, which is certainly not that easy to find in this country). So, what hope then does the rest of the population have if we are to depend on the government for change?

    No! It will be the collective actions of people like Tatiana Cardeal and other reflected minds like hers, who realize that there must be some way of making this country the paradise it could be for all of its citizens, rich and poor alike!

    Thanks for mentioning our program in this article Tatiana, I appreciate your kind of person understanding the value of our last 12 years of extremely difficult but solid investment in the forsaken people of this society. If it has been possible for us to turn around the lives of those individuals we have touched with our work, then it is certainly possible that collective actions, from and by the people, will be able to turn around Brazil!

    If you are not already following Tatiana Cardeal’s images on Flickr, I certainly recommend you start doing so, as from today! Give her all the support she deserves, it is by far the most truthful pathway to follow for a better understanding of the changes necessary, not only in Brazil, but also in many other countries of our Global village.

    Alone we are nothing!

    Gregory J. Smith
    Social Entrepreneur and Founder
    The Children At Risk Foundation – CARF

  • Gisela Gorovitz

    I was very proud to see the quality of Tatians’s photos since I have lived by ser side for some days during the Forum in Nairobi and could witness her sensibility and dedication to the people who are her subjects.

  • Rachel

    I am an aspiring photographer and when I read the article published in the Argentimes (Buenos Aires) about Tatiana Cardeal, and then when I Saw her work, I was really inspired. She is a role model to me, because she does something extraordinarily difficult because she believes in it. And it is not easy to do these projects independently, as a woman, and in the face of people who will tell you that you are wasting your time. Tatiana, thank you for inspiring me and showing me that I too can achieve my dreams of doing social photography if I believe in myself.

  • I have just discovered her work on flickr, found this interview on her profile there, i consider her one of the best photographers in the world, mainly because she is delivering some authentic picture of the topics she is dealing with.
    all the best Tatiana for you and for your people.

  • […] few photography enthusiasts also periodically write about their own top picks, including those from globalvoicesonline, boudist, squashyfrog, and […]

  • […] It’s also a nice excuse to see some old friends there and meet some longtime comrades like Tatiana and Ricardo who I have yet to meet in person. Anyway an excerpt from Idea Lab: It is a telling sign […]

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