A PHOTOGRAPHER'S INTRODUCTION
Ricardo Serpa has been dedicating over 30 years of his life to many different disciplines of photography. Born in Brazil, Ricardo studied Business Administration in Rio de Janeiro, with postgraduate specializations in Finance and Marketing. He worked for companies both in Brazil and abroad, before becoming an Export Manager for a giant multinational tobacco company, traveling extensively to develop new markets around the world.
It was during these early years that Ricardo developed and nurtured some of the passions which would lead him to explore different paths later in life, more notably photography, writing and world traveling. Getting to know so much of the world at a relatively young age helped him understand how much is out there to be seen and documented; and how much beauty the world has to offer.
Photographers will happily dedicate a whole life to constructing a meaningful body of work, a collection of images which will help define the artist and the goals behind the work. The more Ricardo traveled for business, the more he imagined a life fulfilled by documenting and getting to know different lands and far away cultures. To get him there, a first big step would have to be made. This he knew deep in his heart.
At the age of 28, Ricardo quit his job and abandoned a promising career to become a full-time photographer. The reasoning was quite simple: follow your passions first and let them drive you to bright places. Greed, someone once said, will only lead you to obscure ones. He took the big leap of faith, and after a couple of months, luck struck and he was hired as a starting staff photographer for the Jornal do Brasil, the oldest and one of the country’s most traditional and respected daily newspapers. A whole new chapter of life was just starting, and it would be a defining one.
At the newspaper, Ricardo spent four of the most fascinating and exciting years a rookie photographer may wish for. He was able to cover all kinds of daily assignments and learned to photograph under a huge variety of situations. As he says today,
“As a 'sorcerer’s apprentice', I was able to cover all kinds of assignments and learned to photograph under a wide variety of different situations. I simply couldn’t have asked for a better training ground. From then to now, much has changed in photography, and in the world itself. What has not changed is my passion: after all these years looking everywhere through my camera lenses, I have developed a profound respect for the photographic art, and I feel it is a privilege to be able to live doing what makes me whole.”
Embracing the new world
Leaving the newspaper to open his own digital studio, in 1994, made Ricardo one of the pioneers in digital imagery in Brazil, and he was invited to write a weekly technical column for the same Jornal do Brasil he had worked for as a photojournalist. The column focused on digital photography and Macintosh computers, lasting a record straight eight years. His work at the studio opened different doors for experimentation with the then new digital world and served as a solid background for Ricardo’s current work.
By that time, in the late 90‘s, photojournalism as he knew was gone, or on its way out. The Internet had arrived, and with it came dramatic changes in the way we produce and consume news. It was the right time for another change. After moving with his wife Nicole and four kids to the US in 2001, Ricardo opened a commercial photography studio in South Florida, which kept him extremely busy for 12 solid years. Busy, but grounded. Managing a multi-photographer studio, raising a family and adapting to life abroad was a powerful enough combination to postpone all dreams of traveling until he realized the kids would soon grow older and leave the nest. Time for him to do the same, in his own way.
The road on two wheels
In the summer of 2013, Ricardo took his motorcycle on a solo ride for 19,000 miles on all kinds of roads, traveling from South Florida to the extreme north of Alaska, across 26 American states and 4 Canadian provinces. He researched and prepared for the long trip for over a year. The whole journey took him 10 weeks, and he came back with thousands of images (and countless memories to last a lifetime). He was looking for a break from his routine, and a new path to follow for the years to come. It was just natural that this search would place Ricardo on the open roads of the world.
From then to now, he has covered over 200,000 miles riding his motorcycle, most of them solo, stopping quite a lot along the way to photograph whatever and whoever he crosses path with. The trip to Alaska and back was done three more times after that first historical one, and he has ridden and photographed in Argentina, Chile, Peru, South Africa, Botswana, Namibia, Portugal, Spain, Russia, Mongolia and New Zealand. The list of future trips keeps on growing, as he is fully committed to continuing to explore unique destinations, for as long as he can keep doing it, sharing his views through books and exhibitions intended to inspire and help break boundaries and stereotyped perceptions of the world we live in.
As a final introduction to Ricardo Serpa and his work, a few of his own words to help us better understand what lays behind each one of his photographs:
“Happiness is a subjective and individual concept. To me, it means making every image with the relieved feeling that a point is being made, that a purpose is being achieved. Happy or sad, beautiful or disturbing, my images always represent an act of faith in photography. If they can be more than that, let them represent an act of faith in what and whom I photograph.”
BOOKS, EXHIBITIONS AND AWARDS
Contemporary Photography from Latin America
Germany, 1992 – Award, book and collective exhibition
Jornal do Brasil - 100 Years
Brazil, 1996 – Collective exhibition
Talents from Rio
Brazil, 1997 - Collective exhibition
Brazil, 1998 - Solo exhibition
Germany, 1999 – Award, collective exhibition
The Millennium Project
USA, 2000 – Award, book and collective exhibition
M.I.L.K. (Moments of Intimacy, Love and Kindship)
Australia, Europe, USA, 2001/2002 – Award, book and collective exhibition
Brazil, 2002 – Collective book
The Last Frame
Brazil, 2003 - Collective exhibition
USA, 2005 - Solo exhibition
USA, 2005 - Solo exhibition
Italy, 2006 – Award and collective exhibition
A Yellow Line On My Left
USA, 2013 - Self-published book
USA, 2015 - Self-published book
USA, 2016 - Self-published book
Lines On The Map
Portugal, 2016 – Solo exhibition
Norwegian Cruise Line, 2016 - Exhibition aboard 3 cruise ships in Alaska