Escola de Fotógrafos Populares
Founded by the documentary photographer João Roberto Ripper, the Imagens do Povo project began activities in May 2004. With daily classes at the Escola de Fotógrafos Populares (School of Popular Photographers) lasting over four months, the first edition totalled 320 hours/classes aimed at development in photographic documentation, editing, digitalisation and digital filing. The students who graduated from this first group (22 people, aged between 18 and 40) were residents of working class communities surrounding Maré, where there were links to different local institutions (NGOs, pre-university courses and others). Coordinated by photographers Ricardo Funari and João Roberto Ripper, the project counted on the support of FURNAS Centrais Elétricas and many students began to carry out paid photographic work.
At the beginning of 2006, the Escola de Fotógrafos Populares broadened its horizons thanks to the support of UNICEF, which allowed the acquisition of professional digital cameras, films and computers equipped for the editing of images. From there, the course increased its workload to 540 hours and began to be frequented by photographers from other working class communities of Rio de Janeiro, Niterói and the Baixada Fluminense area, as well as university students from other areas of the city, totalling 22 people. Through teacher Dante Gastaldoni, the School’s proposal was welcomed by the Dean of Extension of the Fluminense Federal University (UFF), which provided certificates to graduates of the 2006, 2007 and 2009 courses. At ten months in length, the course began to be structured in three modules, each of 180 hours/classes: Photographic Language, Informatics Applied to Photography and Photojournalism. Pedagogic support was the responsibility of Dante Gastaldoni, who alternated with JR Ripper in the theory and practical classes, backed up by three permanent teachers and a group of guest speakers who were selected from a universe of renowned photographers, technicians and researchers.
With sponsorship in 2007 from UNESCO / Programa Criança Esperança, in April 2008 the school began its second term, also consisting of 22 students. In March 2008, the Escola de Fotógrafos Populares won the Faz Diferença Award, organised by the newspaper O Globo, after carrying out an extensive photographic essay about fun and enjoyment in the favelas of Rio, which resulted in the material “A favela se diverte” (The favela has fun), that was published on the front cover of the Rio newspaper’s Sunday magazine.
In 2009 the programme won support from Fundo Itaú de Excelência Social, which enabled the Escola de Fotógrafos to continue, and the project’s programme content began to incorporate the learning of new technologies in the field of digital photography, as well as the introduction to human rights and the study of themes such as critical analysis of the media and theory of social representations. In that year, 35 students graduated from the Escola de Fotógrafos Populares. The photos produced by the work that concluded the course gave rise to the first exhibition presented by Galeria 535: “Caçadores de Sonhos” (Dream Hunters) that was inaugurated in January 2010.
In 2012 we began yet another term of the Escola de Fotógrafos Populares. This time, the project received financial support from the Ministry of Justice, through Pronasci (the National Programme of Public Security with Citizenship), directed Special Secretariat for Economic Development Outreach, of the Municipality of Rio de Janeiro City Hall, which was designed as an action of unprecedented public policy directed at this type of project. For this edition, EFP counted on a partnership with the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro (UFRJ).