Magnum Photos Workshop Showcase: Luiz Paulo Furia

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Last year, Magnum Photos and British Journal of Photography announced a special partnership around education that sees the world’s longest-running photography magazine work with the participants of Magnum Photos’ international workshop programme to showcase selected portfolios online.


Initiated in 2007 as part of Magnum’s 60th anniversary celebrations, the workshops provide opportunities for photographers at different stages in their careers to benefit from the vast experience of Magnum’s established professionals.

Recently, Magnum photographer Abbas hosted a workshop in São Paulo, Brazil. At the end of the event, he selected Luiz Paulo Furia’s portfolio to be featured in British Journal of Photography. “On the first day of my workshop, when students present a previous folio, we all marvelled at the photos Luis presented of his daughter: the love and the complicity between them were expressed in elegant compositions,” says Abbas. “He said he never took any photos besides her. I was excited at the prospect of Luis’ shoot for the workshop, but unfortunately he was caught in urgent personal matters and could not attend the workshop except on the last day. He came back with eight photos only – shots of the city he had taken within one hour. They showed a deserted, dour city. I asked Luis if he was depressed when he shot these pics. He concurred. I think Luis has a future in photography and this is why I selected him for the BJP portfolio.”

We speak with Luiz Paulo Furia about his work.

BJP: What is your story about?

Luiz Paulo Furia: My story, what leads me to photograph, is my own story. Over the last seven years, I try to tell a story in which the main character is 1000 miles away from me, my own daughter, who lives that way since her birth. I fly every month to take her to my city, and once a month my camera wakes up after a long time waiting to see the light. And so do I.

As for the workshop, I honestly didn’t have a story in the first class. Probably my mistake, but I came in unaware that I needed to get [one] in advance. The only thing I had in my mind was to do something totally different from what I’m used to – I wouldn’t shoot my child in the workshop, of course. At the same time I’m shy and I figured that to try anything too intimidating in a hurry would be a challenge far beyond my possibilities. So I decided to just walk in the streets of São Paulo, feeling the city.

BJP: Why did you choose this particular subject and how did you go about shooting it?

Luiz Paulo Furia: I think whatever surrounds us, wherever we are, can generate an interesting image. Photography, as is well known, is just a slice of our vision in a fraction of the time; the thing, I guess, is just to see the composition emerging naturally. Occasionally it has succeeded – it’s rare but it occurs… São Paulo is a large city with a vast offering of subjects. But I was in such a bad mood (due to personal issues) those days that I’ve transferred it to my pictures, I guess. So at the end, when I see the pictures of the workshop, I only see my mood – it could be anywhere, anything.

BJP: Why did you decide to sign up to the Magnum workshop?

Luiz Paulo Furia: A friend told me about the workshop (thank you, Renata). Magnum is legendary, of course, and I love the photography they do – in a fashion so close to the essence of the photography.

BJP: How was the experience of learning with Abbas? What’s the best advice you received from the workshop?

Luiz Paulo Furia: Outstanding experience. Abbas is a gentleman, and has a true and genuine perception beyond the common – something very rare to find. See the lines, he said as advice – and I can crop pictures sometimes too. But I also learned that making the right choices can change everything… it should be applied not only in photography.

BJP: What are you planning next?

Luiz Paulo Furia: One more flight…

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