In honor of World Humanitarian Day, Behance is supporting the United Nation’s campaign by profiling users who have created projects with a particularly humanitarian focus. This year’s World Humanitarian Day theme asks the question “The World Needs More _________”; brands, organizations, and individuals can then sponsor the words to raise money and awareness.
Jose Ferreira is a photographer based in Portugal, known for fashion and documentary photography. We spoke to him about “Trash Land,” a photojournalism project he completed during a 2011 trip to the only solid waste collection facility in Maputo, the capital of Mozambque.
The theme for World Humanitarian Day is: The World Needs More _______. In three words or less, what do you think the world needs more of?
Union, less corruption, and peace.
Many of your other projects are for commercial clients—what was different about working on Trash Land?
For Trash Land, I was alone. I didn’t have a production team to help me, and I was shooting in a reality that not everyone knows about. It was just me and the daily lives of those people—there’s no Photoshop, only a hard and raw reality.
“The most important thing that I learned is that there’s no ‘Biggest Lesson’ in life…only life itself. The life we waste every day because we want a better one, or because we’re not satisfied, is the life that many others wish for and yearn to live.”
What were the most rewarding aspects of taking on this project?
Showing the world the reality in which these people live. It’s through projects like this that we got other people, organizations, and associations involved and eager to help.
What were the most challenging aspects of taking on this project?
It’s not easy to know about the trash and believe that is just reality; to know you’re waking up and seeing a different reality for men who live in the same world. The biggest mistake is to think that there is no space for shame for these people; there is a real and legitimate shame felt by these people because for them being there was never a choice. Many of the people photographed have seen the other side, and keep for themselves the hope of a better life.
The most important thing that I learned is that there’s no ‘Biggest Lesson’ in life…only life itself. The life we waste every day because we want a better one, or because we’re not satisfied, is the life that many others wish for and yearn to live. They would give everything to have it. I have learned to appreciate my life: all that I have had, all that I have currently, the people in it, my country, and each and every moment I live.