Latin American Fotografia: Geralyn Shukwit in Timeless Bahia

By David Schonauer   Sunday October 1, 2017

In Bahia, there is light and life.

New York City-based photographer Geralyn Shukwit  has been capturing both since 2011 in a series she calls “O Tempo Não Para” (“Time Does Not Stop”). Her project started when she took a workshop with the renowned photographer Ernesto Bazan in Salvador, the capital of Brazil’s Bahia state.

“From the moment I arrived in Salvador, I was in love,” she writes. “The light, the culture, the people, everything was new and exciting. Over the last six years, I’ve returned to visit families and communities that have changed me in ways that I didn’t expect, opening my eyes to strength and resilience, religion and acceptance, from communities of the Roofless Movement (Sem-teto) in the city to Landless (sem-terra) in the countryside, individuals and groups fighting for better lives, fighting for what shouldn’t need to be fought for — a home.”

Her work earned  Shukwit a spot among the winners of the Latin American Fotografia 5  competition. One of her photographs from the series, taken in a small village near Cachoiera Bahia, is a portrait of a man (below) made on the last day of Carnival.

“Parties were happening throughout the village,” Shukwit recalls. “We arrived to a party in full-effect, everyone was dancing and enjoying themselves and invited us to join them. This photo was inside a small store/restaurant where the music was loud, the beer flowing and everyone was dancing.”

Shukwit travels light, working with a Canon 6D camera with a 35mm lens. “My gear is simple. I don’t feel like I do anything to create a look for my images — these images are what I see, how I find them,” she says.

Below are other photographs from her series:

Shukwit has been working in Bahia long enough to experience the passing of time, which, as she notes in the title of her series, does not stop. “On this last trip in February I found out that two men who I’d photographed previously had died from cancer,” she says. “Women become the head of the household, taking on more roles keeping families intact and stronger then ever.”

She says that one of my favorite memories is the time she spent with a family of sisters outside of Cachioera: “The girls were on the fence singing songs when a plane passed by overhead. They all stopped, looked up with the same dream we all have of flying away and experiencing something new.”

Shukwit, who took up photography in high school, says she didn’t really “dive full-on” into it until she moved to New York City 19 years ago. She has studied under Bazan off and on for years. “I initially met him back in 2001” she says. “I was presenting my work on the memorials of 9/11 at MS 51, a school in Brooklyn, and had come the week before to see what I needed for my presentation. He was presenting his work from Cuba, and I signed up for a workshop with him the next day. I still take workshops with him, traveling with him back to the families of Bahia and working on my edit. Outside of Bahia I started a project in Haiti, but that is just in the beginning idea phase. I don’t see an end to my project in Bahia yet and plan to return soon.”

Shukwit’s work has been published in National Geographic, BIG Magazine, the New York Daily News, and the New York Post; she has also been recognized by the International Photography Awards.


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Dispatches from Latin America