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Defying the Sand Thieves or How Not to Get Robbed Photographing on Copacabana Beach, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

A composite of images of Maisa Soares Silva modeling on Copacabana & Ipanema Beach  in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Photo: copyright Jerome Shaw / http://www.JeromeShaw.com
A composite of images of Maisa Soares Silva modeling on Copacabana & Ipanema Beach
 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Photo: copyright Jerome Shaw / http://www.JeromeShaw.com
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A photo composite of some of my favorite images of Maisa on the beaches of Copacabana and Ipanema. She is a very natural model as well as a lovely person. The background image is of the sunrise in a grove of palm trees just off the boardwalk in the center of Copacabana Beach.

But for the personal relationship we made with one of the beach chair and umbrella vendors this photo shoot might not have turned out so well.  As I was making these photographs early one morning I heard Gustavo calling out to me from yards down the beach – he was excitedly waving his arms and gesturing.  I thought it a bit odd that he was so friendly at that time of the morning. He surely knew we were not in the market for beach chairs and beer.  I put down to him being friendly and went on photographing.

Maisa Soares Silva on Ipanema Beach in Rio de Janeiro,  Brazil. Photo: copyright Jerome Shaw / http://www.JeromeShaw.com
Maisa Soares Silva on Ipanema Beach in Rio de Janeiro,
 Brazil. Photo: copyright Jerome Shaw / http://www.JeromeShaw.com
It was not until some time later when we were in the market for beach chairs that the full scope of the event became apparent to me. Gustavo had spied a group of well known (well known at least to him) “sand thieves” that work Copacabana beach robbing tourists of their possessions. He called out to us not so much to wish us a good morning as to alert the “sand thieves” that we were one of his friends/customers and that he was watching and watching out for us. Unbeknownst to us we were under his protective custody while we were on ‘his’ beach.

All I can say is – it pays to make friends when you are traveling.  I make it a priority to find a coffee shop, a bar, a restaurant, and in this case a beach chair guy when I get to new destination.  For the most part I just like developing a familiar place in the midst of so many unfamiliar surroundings.  It is nice to see a smile of recognition when you walk into the bakery each morning to buy your coconut bread or in the corner shop when the clerk helps you with the word for pasts (massa) because he remembered that the last time you were in you couldn’t remember it either.

In this case developing a go to guy on the beach helped me keep my camera equipment.


These photos was taken with Nikon F100 & FG film cameras using Nikkor lenses from 20mm to 400mm. The film used for this image is Fujicolor Superia 200, the exposures vary. The photos were taken in early morning light.

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