"From the Shadow
To the light
I see you
Your colourful soul
Your uniqueness
And your beauty"

During my first years living in Adelaide, I faced the challenges of living in a new country and different culture. The language barrier made me feel extremely frustrated. I felt that I couldn’t express and be myself, a terrible feeling for a communicative  person. Also, working and studying hard I didn’t have time to socialise, what gave me the feeling that I was invisible, with people “looking right through me”. It was a surprise when I realised that other people were feeling the same, each one for their own reasons. As a photographer and story “listener”, I couldn’t be indifferent to this situation. 

One day, after hearing from a dear person who I photographed “You see me, you see us” became clear in my mind that I should photograph people exactly the way that I see them.  And for me, the best way to see someone it’s chatting and listening their stories, having my camera ready to capture that gaze, characteristic gesture, how an emotion reveals itself to create the portrait that shows how “I see” each person. To highlight each unique traits I choose black and white photography, looking to show that simple can be elegant, uniqueness can be beautiful, and that even in the shadows of the everyday challenges, we still have our brightness.

Beyond feeling happy with the results of the photos, and the possibility of knowing different people from different cultures and stories, seeing the happiness in the faces of each person who I photographed when they are looking at their portraits gives me the most rewarding feeling of accomplishment. Like I have every time that I remember what a sweet participant told me:

I will keep this photo on my bed table to remind me everyday who I am and how powerful  I am

Mara Fontainha

The “I see you” project started with Brazilians who live in Adelaide – South Australia and spread to others cultures and locals. In October of 2019, the first portraits were exhibited in Adelaide at the Multicultural Communities Council of South Australia (MCCSA) with support from the Brazilian Association of South Australia (BASA) and the Fine Art Photography Association of South Australia.