The photographic Dakar in Portimão

The joy of the Photo Race is really this: the fun and getting to the end of the day seeing/photographing things that, otherwise, we wouldn't see or notice

The Portimão Photographic Race has many similarities with the mythical Dakar rally, that of motorcycles, cars and trucks. Like the Dakar, the Portimão Photographic Race has already had many editions (going on to the 22nd), has participants of various nationalities and age groups, has veterans and those who compete for the first time, puts men, women and machines to the test ( photographs) and it is a very tough race (as it lasted a whole day, from 9:00 am to 22:30 pm last Saturday, May 14th), there are withdrawals, several stages, checkpoints and classifications.

I've competed all the time, with the exception of last year, because these virtual racing things don't give me the sting. In my team, there was also a veteran who had already won medals and, at the last minute, a person who had never competed joined. It should be noted that we have to take 3 photographs for each of the 8 themes, to be delivered digitally at the end of the day.

It's giving me an attack of nostalgia: in the first editions, the cameras were on a roll, so we could only take the photos in order of subject and you couldn't choose, they were those and that's it. Now, as there is no roll and everything is digital, we take hundreds of photos and in the end we choose the best ones. Other times.

The Race started at the Portimão Museum, the organizer of this photographic Dakar, where you could see that the equipment of the various competitors, as in the rally, was very varied. There were authentic “bombs”, tripods, lenses of the most varied sizes, but also pocket machines and, surprisingly, there were even those who competed with cell phones.

So let's analyze the themes (stages) of the race. The first theme was “Between the river and the mainland”. There was no doubt, we just had to leave the Museum, on dry land, and face the river right in front of us. At this point, everything was still calm, a dozen photographs were enough to then choose.

It's also time to see the different styles of photographers, from those who want to go unnoticed and are discreet, to those who lie down on the floor to get the best angle, to those who carry all the paraphernalia on their back and neck.

The second theme was “Working Lives”. I immediately thought of my forty-six years of work and now a retirement so busy that I'm thinking about taking a vacation to see if I have some time to do nothing. The interesting thing about this is that the themes are so diffuse and comprehensive that they can be treated literally, or not. So, it's time to go looking for people (or not?) to illustrate the theme.

After this topic, we had to go to the next control, in Alvor. At the controls, the passport is stamped and the next items are received. Theme 3: “Streets that tell stories”. I listened and didn't hear anything. Or rather, I could hear my belly pounding, so we went to refuel. After lunch, already filled, I was able to “hear” some stories from some streets.

Theme 4 was “A natural heritage”. This gave rise to discussion in the team. Are those wooden boats, characteristic of past Alvor, a natural or cultural heritage? What's the border? I remember that, a few years ago, when trying to create the Ria de Alvor nature reserve, the logo was a part of the stern of a barge. Warning to non-Algarvians: a barge is what the locals, alike and related, call a boat.

For me, this was a dangerous part of the Race. I was so busy photographing that I headbutted a log and got a beautiful rooster. Accidents happen…

Next control, on the terrace of the kiosk next to Tempo, in the 1º de Dezembro garden. Theme 5 “The old is made new”. I wanted that too, because I'm already old and I don't see a way to be young again.

But it's time to walk up and down Portimão, because there was a test to do. And the interesting thing about this type of race is that we are used to seeing what is wrong – and we spend this whole day seeing the city with different eyes, possibly with the eyes of a tourist, looking for what is photographable. And you discover why many people like this land.

Moving on to theme 6, “Discovering the interior”, and I was philosophically undecided between my interior “self” and the interior of the municipality, like Mexilhoeira Grande. This can cause problems, the fact that this parish did not have a control point.

Now you could feel the wear and tear of the many hours of testing. He already photographed everything that moved and did not move, which later turned out to be a problem when choosing, remember, only three photographs per subject.

Last control at the Museum of Portimão, with theme 7, “Museum in celebration”. Of course, it was the Museum's anniversary and the opening of two very interesting exhibitions. This 14th Anniversary cake was spectacular (as it always is, truth be told).

I didn't try it, much to my regret, as the creative work of photographing only left me time to catch a salmon “thing”. Final theme, the eighth, “At sunset”. It's not as easy a topic as it sounds, but we took the pictures and went home to upload them to the computer and select the final twelve.

It was a plot. I don't know how many pictures we took, but we estimate that the number must be between five hundred/six hundred. Here we must congratulate the organization for giving us more time to present the final result, opening the delivery period from 21:00 pm to 22:30 pm.

It is to be applauded, mainly because the member of the team that competed for the first time had technical problems that were almost leading to withdrawal. But, as in the Dakar, the solidarity between the competitors was enormous.

The top competitor, several times winner of the Portimão Photographic Race (the equivalent of Stéphane Peterhansel in the Dakar), gave the rookie a precious help, helping him to overcome difficulties and finish the race. The gesture and availability was very nice.

The test was tough, my electronic watch was all satisfied because I reached 19 thousand steps, but we had a lot of fun.

The joy of the Photographic Race is really this: the fun and getting to the end of the day seeing/photographing things that, otherwise, we wouldn't see or notice.

Two words for the entire team and organization of the Portimão Museum: they were excellent! Above all, I remember who accompanied us the most during the day, the control staff, and, at the end, who dealt with the IT department.