Kalasha - Ana Abrao - para web

Capturing cultures through the lens of Ana Abrão

Ana Abrão, a photographer who travels the world looking for inspiration, sat down with the Resident to tell us about her travels to Asia, which have resulted in an award-winning book that is due to be followed up very soon by a new book focusing on Pakistan’s Kalash community. Some of her works are currently on display at the São José convent in Lagoa.

Ana Abrão, 57, is a Brazilian award-winning photographer who has lived in the Algarve for over two decades.

With a degree in Psychology and a PhD in Psychology and Informatics, Abrão spent over a decade working in the Algarve as a university professor after moving to Portugal where her partner is from.

Outside of her job as a professor, Ana started pursuing photography as a hobby with her partner, particularly the world of macro photography – a form of close-up photography.

But when Portugal was hit by the economic crisis of 2008, the effects of which started to hit the education sector hardest three years later, Ana started shifting her career’s trajectory away from the academic world and towards her new-found love of photography.

“Photography done with a camera other than a smartphone offers many challenges and much stimulation. There are countless areas to explore, making it an activity that never bores you,” she adds.

Ana Abrão
Ana Abrão

Her talents started being requested for events such as weddings and Ana also began working for magazines and venues such as the Algarve International Racetrack.

But it was in between her professional assignments that Ana started discovering the joys of documentary photography and photojournalism.

“Whenever I wasn’t working, I’d be taking pictures how I wanted to, without the pressure of having to deliver photographs to clients. I would carry out my own projects, and that is what truly fulfils me,” she told us.

“The creative process begins in my mind and ends with the other person, when they perceive the idea I want to convey,” she explains.

It did not take too long before Ana started combining her love of photography with her love of travelling.

In the last decade, Ana has been particularly drawn to Asia, a continent that still preserves ancient traditions despite the ever-increasing wave of western influence, she says.

“Asia offers a collision of cultures, and I was particularly drawn to the hospitality that is rarely seen elsewhere,” she told us.

Her travels resulted in the launch of a book, ‘Outros Mundos’ (Other Worlds), which was a massive success and is currently out of print.

The 130-page book, which featured photographs that Ana took during her visits to several Asian countries and cultures, was hailed by the European Federation of Photography (Belgium) as the best book of 2020, and was also awarded in the USA by One Eyeland and by the IPA Book Awards.

“I had no idea it would be this successful,” Ana told us.

However, its success helped Ana move forward with the launch of a second book, ‘Kalasha’, which will focus on the polytheist Kalash people living in northern Pakistan.

“The image of Pakistan is not great, which for me is great because it means that tourists don’t go there. If tourists don’t go there, it means traditions are better preserved,” she explained.

Outros Mundos - Ana Abrao- para web

Ana ended up spending three months with this community of no more than 3,000-4,000 people, becoming integrated within them to be able to document everything from how they live to what they believe in.

This passion for showcasing traditions or communities that have been mostly unchanged by the “western world” was one of the driving forces behind this latest book, which if all goes according to plan should be completed by September.

Her upcoming book, apart from the photos and text, will feature QR codes with audio narrations in English, allowing English-speaking readers to delve into the stories behind the images.

For now, some of Ana’s stunning photographs can be visited for free at the São José convent in Lagoa, which is hosting an exhibition dedicated to the photographer until August 27.

The exhibition can be visited between 9am and 12.30pm and 2pm and 5.30pm from Tuesday to Saturday.

You can stay updated on Ana’s works by visiting her website https://anaabrao.com/

By Michael Bruxo
[email protected]