Portuguese photojournalist wins seventh ‘Photographer of the Year’ award in USA

Portuguese photojournalist Peter Pereira has been considered ‘Photographer of the Year’ in the six-state region of New England, USA.

It is the seventh time that Pereira, who was born in Figueira da Foz but moved to Massachusetts when he was only nine, has received the distinction awarded by the National Press Photographers Association.

“It is an important distinction because it is awarded by an organisation that represents all the photojournalists in the USA, and because it takes into account the work that was produced all year long, proving you worked consistently well,” Pereira told Lusa news agency.

His work in 2014 focused mostly on photographing “alternative education systems, funerals of American soldiers killed in action, and young boxers”.

Throughout the years, the 46-year-old photojournalist has had his work published in The New York Times, The Los Angeles Times and The Washington Post. He now works for Massachusetts’ The Standard Times.

Although he has lived most of his life in the USA, Pereira said that he developed his love for photography in Portugal.

“I was a boy and I remember receiving a visit from some cousins of mine who lived in the USA. We took them to the castle in Montemor-o-Velho and I took along my cousin’s camera. I think that was when I fell in love with the idea of taking a picture and it lasting forever,” he told Lusa.

When he was nine, he moved with his family to New Bedford, Massachusetts.

Years later, he graduated from Massachusetts-Dartmouth University with a degree in computer engineering, later opening his own computer services company.

But while on holiday in Scotland in 1998, the photography bug bit him again.

While looking at a flock of sheep, his dream of being a photojournalist hit him hard.

“I was successful, but the chances of following my dreams grew dimmer every day. When I returned, I decided that it was now or never,” Pereira revealed.

His risk paid off, as in the last 17 years he has received seven awards from the National Press Photographers Association, as well as an ‘Award of Excellence’ in the China International Press Photo awards.

“Unlike other kinds of photography, photojournalism has a direct impact on the way we see the world. It is a universal language that is able to cross borders. I have no doubt that photojournalism can change the world”.

On a closing note, Peter Pereira said he still feels Portuguese – he is represented by Portuguese photo agency 4SEE.

“I am proud to be Portuguese and promote the country as best I can.”