Indira Mateta is a young Angolan photographer who is taking her first steps in professional photography, transforming her hobby into a promising career. In 2008 she won the BESA Award for Photography in Luanda and has since had her work appear at the Teatro Elinga, the Catholic University of Angola, Oscar Ribas University, Instituto Camões de Maputo and the União de Artistas Plásticos Angolanos, among others. She was also featured in a documentary by Angolan photographer Kiluange Liberdade and writer Ondjaki, ‘Oxalá crescam pitangas’. Indira is the first Angolan photographer in this series:
My name is Indira and I’m the daughter of a nurse and a journalist. I was always the one responsible for taking pictures of family events, including travels, meetings, beach days, baptisms and so on. I have three brothers and because I am the oldest, my father used to entrust me with the responsibility of registering all the special family moments during my childhood and adolescence.
I had different types and brands of cameras, until I won a photography contest and bought my first professional camera with the prize money. This was the beginning of my journey as a professional photographer.
For this post, when you asked me to choose five pictures from my entire ”arsenal” of photographs, I thought it would be very difficult. But it was actually easier than I thought. I just started visualizing in my head the moments and the images that were of the most importance to me in my journey.
The first three images deeply marked me because they are the reason that I even had the opportunity to become a professional photographer in the first place. I took all three of them with a very humble camera, which I didn’t replace until my father encouraged me to participate in that photography contest back in 2008 — which I won with these three images.
The first one (above) was taken in Kwanza Sul province in Angola during an unforgettable road trip. Capturing the atmosphere of the small provincial villages with my camera was a priority for me, as I felt the necessity to have references from a different place and capture the daily life of a more rural environment, an environment which is completely different of what I am used to in Luanda, where I always lived. The depicted scene captured my attention for two reasons: because of the way they do laundry and because I could confirm that normally our country and many others tend to separate tasks in a very sexist way, and only women are doing this particular task. I don’t agree with it but that’s another story for another day!
The next two images above and below were taken in a very specific point in time. Back in 2007 Angola was experiencing the atmosphere that went along with hosting the African Basketball Championship. In every corner of the country we saw big and small basketball games because our skillful national basketball team inspired people. Basketball is a sport that Angola dominates in Africa, only recently broken by Tunisia. So everybody always loved the national team, including these kids from my neighborhood. They were playing on an ordinary weekday. What captured my attention was the fact that they didn’t have the proper basket, and as usual in poor places, people have to be creative — they were not an exception.
This next photo I took in Kwanza Sul as well, a few years after the first road trip mentioned in the first picture above. This young man saw me taking pictures and asked me to take individual pictures of him and his friends, all of them using the same broken sunglasses. But this one became my favorite picture. I was traveling by road with friends and it was very nice for me to take pictures after I attended my first photography workshop in Luanda with a Brazillian photographer, João Paulo Barbosa. It was him who really helped me with the more technical aspects of photography. This particular image is special for me because at that time I already knew the meaning of aperture, for example, and for the first time I had the ability of seeing that in this photo.
Lastly there is this image, which is actually quite dear to me because it was an exercise in a photography workshop that I attended in Luanda at the Alliance Française. My teacher was Nabil Boutros, an Egyptian photographer and a very kind person now based in Paris. He is very demanding, has incredible photography experience and does the type of photography that I like. Attending this workshop was very important in my development as a professional photographer. This photograph was taken at Ilha de Luanda in front of a primary school:
The children were playing on the beach just across the street, during recess. I asked them to take pictures of them while they were playing and they accepted with smiling faces and started playing with enthusiasm, as they were attracted to the camera and loved the fact that they were being photographed.