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“It is Good that an Image Wake a Debate at this Level”

When photographs of Wilton Junior was published in Brazil for the first time in the newspaper O Estado de Sao Paulo, the picture generated a controversy over the content of the image. Between praise and criticism, photographer Wilton offered an exclusive interview for the prestigious photography magazine PHOTO MAGAZINE.

A photo of Wilton Junior, published in August in the newspaper O Estado de Sao Paulo, was much debated in blogs and social networks in Brazil and the world. In it, the president of Brazil, Dilma Rousseff, appears transfixed by a rapier wielded by a cadet at the Military Academy of Agulhas Negras (Aman). From now Dilma at no time was under threat by this weapon: the image is the result of a physical characteristic of long-range telephoto lenses, that “compacted” planes, bringing them closer.

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The photo illustrated perfectly the critical moment that the President was going on because of problems with his ministers and other party affairs. And the photo did not escape some criticism, many condemning the author of the picture for making the shot, others accusing the newspaper of tendentious. Of course also they were those who defended the image and photographer, saying he just did his job, a brilliant portrait of the political moment. Wilton Photo Magazine spoke with Junior on the photo and controversy.

What do you think about the controversy generated by the photo of Dilma?
I heard about the controversy generated by the photo days after being published. I found something interesting and stimulating. It is good when an image arouses a debate at this level. I think our role is this: make people think.

When he captured that image, and was aware of its political content?
Whenever I go out to hedge a political event, I look for a picture that can portray the moment. It is not always possible to transmit such information in an image but it happens. At that time, the President was with political problems in its own base, and the picture reflects well this dimension, since she appears as “attacked by the shoulders.” I went to the Military Academy of Agulhas Negras thinking about what kind of picture could portray this issue.

Did you feel at that time that had captured a great photo?
When editing the film, I realized I had a good picture, but only after I realized its true value. I’m not too excited, to “vibrate” so much, it’s my temperament.

You are positioned already thinking about the possibility of making a picture like that?
As you know, the coverage of an event where the President participates has a number of restrictions. We are not where we locate or circulate want. At that time, we were in a place away from the President, with a ribbon delimiting our space. From there, all of us (photographers) had to make photos.

What lens were you using?
It was with a 400mm lens, which ended up helping with the approaching planes. The sword in question seems closer to her than it really was. This lens was the most appropriate in that situation, not just for that specific photo.

Is the original image was published or suffered some cuts?
As the distance was great, I had to take a cut. It’s natural. It was the only picture of this sequence I sent for writing, and in the same way that I sent, was published.

There were those who said it was a montage …
To prove that no, the newspaper published on the blog the entire sequence.

What do you think about the opinion of those readers who have criticized the photo, to the point of considering it “tendentious”?
This is an interesting debate: how far reaches the photographer’s responsibility? For me, it is limited to the time the photo arrives daily with their respective legend. After that, all borne by the writer headlines and articles. So I do not consider myself biased. I made a picture that generates a reflection and shows my view on this political moment. This is our role, that’s what I want with my photography. My opinion about the picture can be summarized in one word: reflection.

The newspaper Estado de Sao Paulo is known for his conservative political positions, positions the paper itself makes clear question of leaving, even declaring his preference for Jose Serra in the last election. Do you think this spurred controversy?
I can not vouch for the newspaper, but did not see any political exploitation. If they wanted to do that, the picture would go to the first page, which would have much more visibility. It is, again, a picture that leads to reflection, a thought that not merely records an event. Of course it bears my opinion, my vision of the moment. It is that what we, photographers, let these events: to show our view. To give the official version, was just using images sent by the Presidency itself.

Were there other photographers you? Do they did the same photo?
There were others, on my side, I did not see published in other media. If they made the same picture, I do not know. I am seeking to concentrate on my work, without worrying what others do. In a few days we win, others lose. Only you can not lose every day.


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