‘Albinos’ is a photographic series by Brazilian photographer Gustavo Lacerda, shot in his Sao Paulo studio over a five year period. The subjects of the series are posed against soft pastel backdrops, and this delicate colour palette, coupled with gently diffused light, seems to envelop rather than displace each subject, complementing the delicate physical traits that make them so unique. The effect is muted and gives each image an almost ethereal quality. We spoke to Lacerda about the inspiration behind this extraordinary series.
What inspired you to start this project? I was inspired by these beautiful people and wanted to make them the protagonists. Their photophobia is due to the absence of melanin, and this causes them to literally live in the shadows. Seeing as photography is basically light, I thought it would be interesting to invite them into my studio and photograph them under ambient light.
Thyfany II, 2009
How did you find the subjects to feature in the series? In most cases they refused upon first contact. However, slowly a few people began to accept and enjoyed the experience, so they invited relatives or friends to participate. The project started growing very organically. During my second year photographing the subjects, the series was published and people began to contact me to ask if I could photograph them or their family.
Livia IX, 2011
Can you tell about the significance of your use of colour and light in the images? The shyness and singular beauty of people with albinism has always captured my attention. I wanted to photograph them to capture and highlight their unique features. The set up of these pictures, their clothes, the way they pose for the portrait, the backdrops decorated with delicate motifs, and the light glittering in their skin, are not used to criticise albinos for being different, but to create a dialogue about the unique beauty flowing from them.
Can you share any anecdotes about the creation of this series? I have lots of special memories from the five years of working on this project. One particular thing I remember, and think is very interesting, is the importance of looking at yourself as ‘another’. When I showed one of my models the picture I had selected of her I noticed she didn’t like it, although she respected my choice. Some time after this, my images from the project became part of the Sao Paulo Museum of Art’s collection, and her picture was one of the images selected. During the opening, people saw her in the museum and many of them praised her. Since that day she has liked her picture. It just shows how relative beauty can be, and our ideas about what we think is or isn’t beautiful.
“It just shows how relative beauty can be, and our ideas about what we think is or isn’t beautiful”