Meet Fabiana Nunes, our Portrait of Humanity People’s Choice Winner

Fabiana Nunes is a Brazilian photographer based in Zurich, Switzerland. Having worked in the fashion industry for years, she frequently jets off to glamorous locations (including Paris, London, and New York) to cover industry parties as well as concerts, festivals and nightlife. Her favourite subject, however, is everyday life.

The image that The Guardian editors picked as one of their favourite Portrait of Humanity entries shows a mother and child collecting shells on a Tanzanian beach. Though a daily routine for the subjects, it was an unusual scene for Nunes, who spends most of her days in hectic European cities. This encapsulates Portrait of Humanity’s motto: what’s ordinary to you may be extraordinary to someone else.

We spoke to Nunes about the story behind the picture, and what being part of Portrait of Humanity would mean to her.

© Fabiana Nunes, Portrait of Humanity Entry 2019

What are your key interests as a photographer?

I have always dreamed of visiting the places I’ve seen in pictures. My favourite subject is the diversity that I find while travelling around the globe. For me, photography is all about sharing, and I love sharing all the places I’ve travelled to so that others can dream about them too. A friend once said to me: “I love your pictures because I can travel with you too”. That, to me, is beautiful.

What is the story behind the image that you entered into Portrait of Humanity?

Zanzibar was one of those places I saw in a photo five years ago and started to dream about. After two years researching and planning, my husband and I, running from the Swiss winter, arrived in sunny Tanzania.

Every morning, I would wake up to see the sunrise and go for a walk along the beach, where I’d see all the locals going about their routines. This is when I made my most beautiful images. The majority of them were of women working at seaweed farms, helping fishermen and collecting shells. I was fascinated by the color of the fabrics, the mix of patterns and how they could be so incredibly beautiful this early in the morning.

I can’t speak Swahili, so we communicated through mime and drawing in the sand. From what I could understand, the woman and child and were collecting shells to sell. They do this every day, at the first light of sun, when the tide is low.

© Fabiana Nunes, Portrait of Humanity Entry 2019

Why did you decide to enter the Portrait of Humanity award? Why do you want the world to see this picture?

I love to photograph people as they are. I always see beauty in people, their natural life and their simplicity. My motto for this picture was “simple lives make the truest smiles”. With my pictures, I try to show that no matter where you live, the work you do, what ethnicity you are, or what gender you prefer, we are all the same.

© Fabiana Nunes, Portrait of Humanity Entry 2019

What would it mean for you to exhibit your work in Portrait of Humanity’s global tour?

It would be a dream come true for me. I would be very proud to see my work worldwide on such a recognized and influential platform. It would give me a chance to explore, travel and share my vision with others even more.

Do you have any advice for other entrants about selecting a portrait to submit and, more generally, about getting into portrait photography to begin with?

Try to find beauty in ordinary things, and to show what real life is like for the person portrayed. These are the best pictures. My advice is: always respect the subject and their culture. Make them comfortable with you and forget about the camera at first. Try to gain their trust; even when the person is reluctant to begin with, a gentle approach can change it all.

Do you want to be part of the movement? Together, we will create a Portrait of Humanity

© Fabiana Nunes, Portrait of Humanity Entry 2019
© Fabiana Nunes, Portrait of Humanity Entry 2019
© Fabiana Nunes, Portrait of Humanity Entry 2019