A change in energy

Hello from the USA! We all arrived safely in Omaha yesterday after two flights. While i’m glad to be back home with family and friends, I wish my time with Nisse and Armando didn’t have to be so short.


I spent a little more than two days out at the farm, sleeping in the garage and photographing everything else my story needed. Nicky came and joined me on Friday afternoon, and we started to cover all the holes in the story.



On Friday night, a little before bedtime Armando told Nicky and I that his heart was going to be very sad when we leave. He also told us the energy around his home changed for the better when we were there, and he was going to miss us. Things like this make me feel so good. I posted early on after my first day at the farm hoping I would leave Nisse and Armando as many memories as I would have. It felt weird not going out to the farm Sunday morning.




Nicky and I set it up so one of our translators can show them our multimedia project when we finish it, so they can see what they took part in and hopefully create some change for the Landless Movement.




Have a great day,



Breaking the Cycle

Rafael, right, works on his Bible study at the Teen Challenge rehabilitation center. (photo by Brianna Soukup)

Rafael, right, works on his Bible study at the Teen Challenge rehabilitation center. (photo by Brianna Soukup)

Crack is drug that can overtake a person.  It can a make a good, decent person capable of almost anything. Brianna and I spent another day at the rehabilitation center outside the city. All the men are very sweet to us and are good friends with one another.  It is hard to accept that many of them have done some horrible things while they were under the influence of crack. One man, Rafael, the sweetest and most shy guy, admitted to have robbing a family man and taking about 10 dollars. In the process, slitting the man’s throat. He doesn’t know if the man lived.

photo by Brianna Soukup

(photo by Brianna Soukup)

(photo by Anna Reed)

(photo by Anna Reed)

(photo by Brianna Soukup)

(photo by Brianna Soukup)

By spending time with the men recovering in the rehab center and with some of the people we met on the streets of Cracolandia, Brianna and I have realized how powerful the drug is.  Nice, good, honest people can be turned to do horrible things; lie, steal, fight and even kill, because of the effects of the addiction to crack. Seeing how the cycle continues and how it can be stopped if more people were able to enter effective rehab makes both of us want to show these peoples’ stories. We hope that by everyone spreading awareness can help to reduce and eventually end the crack problem in Brazil.

(photo by Brianna Soukup)

(photo by Brianna Soukup)

(photo by Anna Reed)

(photo by Anna Reed)

Rafael's children, Martina (4) and Guilherme (6). (photo by Anna Reed)

Rafael’s children, Martina (4) and Guilherme (6). (photo by Anna Reed)


A party on the farm

Nicky and I headed out to the farm today, and little did we know, within 30 minutes of showing up Armando and Nisse’s whole family would be joining us for a birthday party for one of their grandchildren. It was amazing how much hard work Armando did for this small, modest party. First, more electrical wires needed to be spliced together. Armando crunched through a wooded area and found the right wires underneath dead leaves and twigs.


Next, a pool was erected for the birthday boy, turning five, which meant Armando needed to reroute some of the water lines buried underneath the farm. With his heart condition and the hot Brazilian sun beating down, both Nicky and I were worried about how much work Armando was going through.

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All went well though, except the pool collapsed once and all the water spilled out. Everyone feasted on turkeys and chicken, to which I asked Nicky if i had known those animals in the previous two weeks. We decided we’ve probably photographed our dinner a few times by now. After everyone finished, Armando finished up his strenuous chores and sat down with a knife and a fork to eat.

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The whole family was receptive to Nicky and I, which made us wonder how weird the situation must have been overral. Having the kids and grandkids go home and explain the party to their friends. “Oh, it was awesome! There were these two guys with cameras that didn’t speak a word of Portuguese. I’m not really sure why they were there.” I was glad we went though, it’s the kind of event that is important to the story, even if the frames never make it into the final cut. I understand the family dynamic that surrounds these two landless farmers more and am beyond thankful they let me past their gates into the farm. Even if I can’t speak their language.

Thanks for looking,


Staying overnight

Things have been going well on the farm. Nisse and Armando finished the fence they started on the 27th, now the turkeys stay behind the house for the most part. The small turkeys and chickens are able to make it through a hole in the kitchen wall and come in, but there’s not much you can do about that.


Nick and I spent the night last night, and it was a good night to go. We watched as a rain storm slowly took over the nearest town, covering it in a wavy, gray blanket of rain until the storm reached the farm. Soon, all you could hear was thunder. The lights inside the home flickered on and off until the storm overpowered the electricity and the lights went out.


The opportunity to document this story is giving me personal stories I will never forget. Last night when we all sat down to dinner on the farm. Nick was digging into his second plate, out of nowhere a chicken jumped up and sat down on his plate. Nick moved his plate around in the air, but the chicken wouldn’t budge. Eventually, Nisse and Armando grabbed the chicken and got him off. Nick dumped the rest of his food on the floor and the chickens cleaned it all up. It was absolutely hilarious and was a moment where all four of us could share in a deep laugh together.
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Time is winding down in Brazil. I’m going to be sad to leave Nisse and Armando and all their animals, but i’ll be making the most of the time we have left.

Feliz ano novo!


From above

Last night I had the opportunity to take photographs from atop one of the many skyscrapers on Paulista Avenue, thanks to Andrew Dickinson, who needed roof access for his motoboy story.


Being high above the streets was the first chance I had to truly grasp how huge this city is. It doesn’t matter which direction you look toward, there are too many skyscrapers to count.


There was a light rain while Andrew and I were up on the building, so I figured finding some sort of rain feature photo was necessary. I messed around with probably a dozen different shots before taking this frame. It’s rare to go a day in Sao Paulo without rain, and when it didn’t rain for nearly two days this week, we all started to miss the rain.

Thanks for looking,


Feels like home


As a kid, I would spend some time out of my summer vacation on my uncle’s farm in Ord, Neb. I always loved going out to the seemingly-endless fields of green corn crops and distant sounds of cows mooing. Farms are peaceful, beautiful and always interesting. The landless workers farm i’ve been documenting is no exception.


Just getting out to this farm is an adventure in itself. From the hostel I take four different subway lines, one bus and walk about two miles along the interstate until everything gets quiet and i’m surrounded by what i love the most: lush green foliage and the smell of fresh fruit and vegetables (even though i don’t eat most of them).


This farm always has something going on, digging holes for a new fence with a post-hole-digger, similar to the same one my dad and uncle tried to teach me how to use, although I could never dig holes nearly as fast as either of them. Chickens and ducks take up vacancy inside the squatted farm house just the same as the people who live there.


Recently, the transformer inside the plywood and tin home quit working, causing the electricity to go out. A new one cost about 100 reals or $50, which is not in the budget, forcing the family to find a way to wire electricity from a telephone pole or any way they can make it work.

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Even though i’m on another continent, things always remind me of those summers in Ord. Farmers have always been nice and caring people in my book, and the same is true in Brazil. The work is always hard and under the scorching sun. I’m glad to have found people that spark these memories for me, and I hope my presence in their home leaves them with some good memories as well.


Thanks for looking,


Beach prowlers

Bertioga, a municipality in the state of São Paulo, is a beach town surrounded by lush mountains and low-sitting clouds. (photo by Kat Buchanan)

Bertioga, a municipality in the state of São Paulo, is a beach town surrounded by lush mountains and low-sitting clouds. (photo by Kat Buchanan)

On Sunday morning Brian, Bethany and I woke up before the sun rose and made our way through a series of mishaps to the bus station to travel southeast to a little beach town called Bertioga. Bethany’s story required a trip to the coast and I –– being a first-time photo trip taker –– went along for the ride to see how a story is shaped and contacts are made in a foreign city. We spent a lot of time touring the city with Bethany’s guide Ailton and trying to find surfers for Bethany to talk to about starting her multimedia piece.


A fisherman gets up from his post at a pastel stand near Bertioga’s ferry. (photo by Kat Buchanan)

A little girl leans out her family's VW bus while parked on the ferry that takes travelers from Bertioga to Guarujá. (photo by Kat Buchanan)

A little girl leans out her family’s VW bus while parked on the ferry that takes travelers from Bertioga to Guarujá. (photo by Kat Buchanan)

The cloud cover over the mountains was absolutely gorgeous, but we were getting antsy with the lack of surfers on Bertioga’s main beach. We decided to take Ailton’s advice and hop on the ferry to get over to this surfer trail through the mountains. The winding path led to a beach in Guarujá that is notorious for surfer camps and communities (perfect, right?). We walked for about 30 minutes through the jungle, listening to the sounds of the birds and bugs and trying our best not to fall flat on our faces on the slick rocks under our aching feet. The trip was worth it tenfold –– we found the surfers that Bethany was looking for, and spent time interviewing various natives about their surf stories.


Eduardo, a 10-year-old surfer from the hills of Praia Branca, poses between his grandparents’, aunt’s and parents’ homes. Eduardo comes from a family of surfers and is already lining his dresser with trophies and prizes from surf competitions around Brazil. (photo by Kat Buchanan)

We met a lot of friendly faces, walked a lot of miles and got plenty of help from Ailton along the way. I’m excited to see what kind of story Bethany gets from the people on the coast –– I know there are plenty to be told. I will be heading down to the far southern coast of SP tomorrow morning to get to work on my photo story, so check back soon to see how it unfolds.

A balloon salesman waits next to his helium pump in Bertioga. (photo by Kat Buchanan)

A balloon salesman waits next to his helium pump in Bertioga. (photo by Kat Buchanan)

Thanks for looking and giving us feedback. It means a lot.

–– Kat Buchanan