Marcelo Baptista from Porto says Estonia is probably one of the biggest gems in Europe that needs way more recognition; in a series of pictures he aimed to capture some of the magic.
Baptista first came to Estonia as part of a short internship in the first half of 2017. During the three months he spent in the country, he fell in love with Estonia and took a series of images – Estonian World publishes some of the examples and finds out more about his work.
Where do you come from and what brought you to Estonia?
I’m from a small city close to Porto in Portugal, named Espinho. I went to do an internship at StenCilit (an interior design company – editor) in Tartu. It was only a three-month internship, from January to first days of April of 2017.
What were your first impressions when settling in?
Estonia was damn cold! But I guess I got lucky because it wasn’t as cold as it was supposed to be. But also, people and the city were very friendly and charming.
What did you like the most about the country?
Your landscapes, I guess; all the “secret” places that I found absolutely stunning and also how developed the country was – in some ways, even compared with Portugal. Estonia is probably one of the biggest gems in Europe that needs way more recognition.
Ah, and the Saaremaa craft beer from that windmill bar!
But what could be improved upon in your opinion?
I didn’t live in Estonia long enough to have strong views on something that needed to be improved upon – like something really urgent.
Well, I love going to concerts or cultural events and I didn’t attend them as much when I was living in Tartu. I mean, I know that they exist – but they’re not that frequent.
But anyway, I found it amazing I could have a proper conversation in English with 99% of the people that I met.
When you tell about Estonia to a complete stranger who has not heard anything about it in Portugal, what are the things you point out, or the story you tell them?
Hum, beer! But apart from that, sometimes I try to make people imagine about a kind of small city/country – really cold but with a lot of such good people. I’m always trying to find articles with creations made by Estonians or small and smart things about your country that make it look way better.
I also found myself trying to explain how the frozen landscapes really looked like the Estonian flag.
Also, how easily and affordably you can get from a city to another. Coming from the other side of Europe and also really tired of the general public transport, it’s always good to use Estonia as an argument.
Basically, Estonia is a small gem that needs to be polished.
What impacts your photography and how do you perceive Estonia from a photographer’s point of view?
Estonia is a very photogenic country. I don’t know if it was because I was so amazed by it, or if all the cold weather inspired me.
I really think that two faces of Estonia exist and both of them are beautiful – when it’s winter and when it’s not. It helps me as a photographer to try and explore the same place in two different weather situations. I came from a different kind of photographic background and coming to Estonia helped me try out different situations.
As a music photographer, I tend to explore a lot of low light conditions with people moving. In Estonia, most of the times I kept having low light situations (oh well, winter) but now my subjects were not people but architecture, places and life situations. It helped me improve some of my skills and use photography as a documentary memory tool.
I got tons of photographs that I didn’t find interesting from an artistic point of view of Jubilee Street (Marcelo’s website – editor), but they are still good photos. I found new ways to explore photography – it helped me a lot as a photographer. The Estonian experience was probably one of the turning points when it comes to the kind of photography I started to do then.
There are many good places, people and conditions to take photos of. It was a good experience in terms of finding a focus in what you like to do; and also connecting with your conscience and think about the weather and environmental conditions. I found my time in Estonia a really inspirational experience, aspiring almost everything I did afterwards.
Images courtesy of Marcelo Baptista.