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PHOTOS: Humans of Portugal

Following the worldwide trend of sharing portrays and stories of humans from all corners of the world, inspired by the work started by Brandon Stanton in 2010 with Humans of New York (HONY), Portugal also has a share of its people from several cities around the country represented on different collections on Facebook.

For three years in a row, this country of roughly 10.5 million people (according to data from 2012) has seen its population decrease. In 2012 not only were there more deaths than births, but also the number of people emigrating reached a peak [pt] unseen since the 1960s. Estimates from 2010 point to nearly 5 million Portuguese people who live outside the country.

Meet some of the faces of those humans who have either stayed or happen to be passing by in Portugal.

The poster reads: "Humans in Power". Photo from a demonstration in Lisbon by © Jsl Photography

The poster reads: “Humans in Power”. Photo from an anti-austerity demonstration (March 2013) shared by Humans in Lisbon by © Jsl Photography

“Revolution doesn’t happen when society adopts new technology, it happens when society adopts new behaviours”. The quote, from Clay Shirky, is mentioned by the Bastart magazine in an interview with João Sá Leão who created the Facebook page of Humans of Lisbon in May 2012. João describes the scenario that inspired him to start mapping the stories of Lisbon: 

Just imagine. One day, we might have a brand new world map. When clicked on any city, we would see its people: the ones that live there as well as those that are just passing by. A totally different way of ‘surfing’ a city…

"Today I introduce you Maria Isabel. I often see her in the morning in the cafe 'Floresta de Madrid "in Av. de Madrid reading the newspaper or smoking a cigarette ... before another journey start." © Jsl Photography

“I often see [Maria Isabel] in the morning in the cafe ‘Floresta de Madrid’ in Av. de Madrid reading the newspaper or smoking a cigarette … before another journey starts.” © Jsl Photography

One of the most human stories shared in the page of Humans of Lisbon (which already has 3,187 ‘likes') is the one of Maria Isabel, a woman whom the photographer meets everyday on the way to and from work. Sometimes they talk a little bit when João stops his car at traffic lights:

… after many meetings in the traffic lights, she no longer speaks of charity or church but about the government, the weather, asks for my children, complaining that a tooth it´s hurting her… etc … until the light turned green and someone honk, and I have to leave … but tomorrow we meet again.

Today I finally parked the car and offer her breakfast and a little conversation, with no rush.
She remembers the name of my children as often greets from my car window … although sometimes she switch them … in the end I got to know her name and she mine.

Still had time to talk about the crisis and the political … “even the New York Times speaks against Portugal …”, “…This crisis doesn´t help… people offer less or nothing, but some days are better then others…”, she said.

Some days the sun is so hot but she still stays there waiting for some charity…. but from my car I see others closing their windows as she approaches, as if she would harm them…. sad to reach this age and people still close-in the “door”!

If you see her…. do not close your window….. just be nice!

“The grinder which, formerly, was also an umbrellas repairman , is a traveling trader, who carries on a bicycle or motorcycle to offer their services sharpening knives, scissors and other cutting instruments.”   In Inatel / Alvalade  © Jsl - Photography

“The grinder which, formerly, was also an umbrellas repairman , is a traveling trader, who carries on a bicycle or motorcycle to offer their services sharpening knives, scissors and other cutting instruments.” In Inatel / Alvalade. Photo: © Jsl – Photography

"My name is José Reis and I'm from Cape Verde. I always carry this crucifix to protect me."

“My name is José Reis and I'm from Cape Verde. I always carry this crucifix to protect me.” The picture was published on a different Humans of Lisbon Facebook page, which was created on December 2013 and had 643 ‘likes’ at the time this article was published.

Created on November 1, 2013, the Facebook page of Humans of Porto has already gathered 1,916 ‘likes'. The first photo, taken on the streets of the second main city of Portugal, features “a very special lady at Ribeira” who “sells chestnuts, popcorn, lupin beans and olives… whatever is needed, when it's needed”.

There is a very special lady at Ribeira every time we go there. She sells chestnuts, popcorn, lupin beans and olives... whatever is needed, when it's needed. "If I knew I was going to be photographed today, I would have brought my earrings. But that's alright because the true beauty lies within", she said. Either way, she made sure to show off her hat to us. "This hat was given to me by Princess Beatrix of the Netherlands!", she said proudly and continued working with a smile on her face.

“If I knew I was going to be photographed today, I would have brought my earrings. But that's alright because the true beauty lies within”, she said. Either way, she made sure to show off her hat to us. “This hat was given to me by Princess Beatrix of the Netherlands!”, she said proudly and continued working with a smile on her face. Photo: Erge Sonn

The page of Humans of Porto is managed by an all-women team - a videographer, a journalist and a photographer – who say their mission is:

to capture the very essence of Porto and the souls that compose the kaleidoscope of this amazing place. 

“Art is an honest way to make a living”. This is Sérgio’s motto, the artist we met in Santa Catarina that decided to make an exception to his “no interviews” policy and talk with us. He confessed that he exposes his art works in galleries at times, but is on the streets because he prefers to get involved with the whole process and sell his own work.

“Art is an honest way to make a living”. This is Sérgio’s motto, the artist we met in Santa Catarina that decided to make an exception to his “no interviews” policy and talk with us. He confessed that he exposes his art works in galleries at times, but is on the streets because he prefers to get involved with the whole process and sell his own work. Photo: Erge Sonn

They always try to capture life stories behind the portrays such as Sérgio's, who introduced himself:

I am self-educated. My father wanted me to go study arts but I never wanted that. I decided to learn on my own and on the streets because here you can learn something everyday and with every person you meet.

“Film me and put it on the Internet. I want to be a Youtube star”. The Ukrainian guy was once a well-known boxer in the Soviet Union, but now he plays music for a living, entertaining the tourists near Sé. Photo: Erge Sonn

“Film me and put it on the Internet. I want to be a Youtube star”. The Ukrainian guy was once a well-known boxer in the Soviet Union, but now he plays music for a living, entertaining the tourists near Sé in Porto, Portugal. Photo: Erge Sonn

There are pictures too of Humans of Azores, one of the two autonomous regions of Portugal, composed of nine volcanic islands situated in the North Atlantic Ocean.

A human from the archipelago of Azores driving a peculiar motorcycle. Photo: Cristian Rodríguez

A human from the archipelago of Azores driving a peculiar motorcycle. Photo: Cristian Rodríguez

An Azorian tour. Photo taken in Roncha de Relva. by Paula Rodilla.

An Azorian tour. Photo taken in Roncha de Relva. by Paula Rodilla.

Humans of Coimbra has many photos showcasing student life and academic traditions in the city, and Humans of Setúbal has pictures of people around town too, but both share their photos without any stories. The same goes for Humans of Almada which has mostly shared landscape pictures. Humans of Cascais was created last October but has only shared one photo until now. 

Do you know of any other “Humans of…” projects in Portugal? Let us know in the comments section below!

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