Spotlight: Sandra Cattaneo Adorno Captures a Stormy Day in Rio

By David Schonauer   Tuesday October 16, 2018

It was not a typical day on the beaches of Rio de Janeiro.

“The sea was very rough and the undertow was very strong. The bathers were hesitating to get into the sea,” recalls photographer Sandra Cattaneo Adorno.

On the other hand, what wasn’t good for swimmers was very good for the photographer. “A thick mist hung over the beach and was colored by the light of the sunset,” she recalls. “There is something I find very compelling in the way in which people interact with water. Its liquid surface reflects the light in ever-changing and unpredictable ways that I enjoy to try and capture, while its vast expanse sets the mood of the scene.”

Her photograph of the scene, above, was named a winner of the Latin American Fotografia 6 competition.

Adorno, who is based in London, has captured the atmosphere of Brazil throughout her work — reflective compositions from Ipanema Beach, silhouetted vistas of street life — as well as scenes from Cuba, Portugal, Mexico, Jordan, and Israel. It is wonderful to contrast her images of sunny, sensuous Brazil with her shots of snowy, cold New York City.

Another location she has photographed is London, where she is based. Her portrait of a woman in Sloan Square, below, was also named a winner of LAF 6. It is part of a series capturing people as they emerge from an underground station and walk into the light.

“In this liminal realm of light and darkness an element of unconscious vulnerability emerges as people adjust to the new light condition,” she writes. “I am intrigued by the way in which the strong light and the contrast transform the features of the people and allow the possibility of narratives being created.”

See the photo below.

“For my 60th birthday, my husband gave me a second-hand Nikon camera, and my daughter followed this up with a five-day beginner’s photography course,” explains Adorno. “Suffice it to say that I was smitten: Over the next week I embarked on a treasure hunt like the ones I used to love as a child — except in this one I collected stories and captured emotions with the click of my shutter. If I was in awe then at the possibility of interacting with the world in this new way, I am even more so now, four years later, at the age of 65.”


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Dispatches from Latin America