Chapter 3

2 meters away

Think of someone who got the timing wrong. Now think of someone who got the timing wrong, in a foreign language and 9500 km from home. Well, I present to you Camila.

Camila is Brazilian from the interior of São Paulo, photographer, producer, and lover of music, art, and culture. She enjoys being around people, you know? As granddaughter of Dona Olga, another woman full of passions, she grew up watching her nonna play the accordion, keyboard and capture family moments with the camera she always had in her hands.

As an adult, with a suitcase filled with memories revealed to the sound of "Asa Branca", Camila headed to the big city to study journalism and perhaps even take Fátima Bernardes's chair someday, why not? But she quickly realized that it was behind another camera that she wanted to be. Soon she started producing photo and culture projects, accumulating 10 years of experience as a photographer and, in mid-2019, the opportunity arose to move to London at the invitation of a photographer she had already been working with remotely. Perfect, isn't it?

She sorted out the paperwork. Rented her apartment. Packed what she needed. Bought the ticket. All was set. Boarding was scheduled for March 15, 2020. Let's go, it's going to be awesome, Big Ben, London Eye, meeting new people…Wait, did you say March 2020?

That's right, Camila arrived in the queen's land, God rest her soul, just days before the lockdown. What wrong timing! The enthusiasm of moving to another country soon turned into boredom, and instead of mingling with fellow foreigners, her company was just Luiz Gonzaga and his nasal voice singing – “Many leagues away today, in sad solitude”.

She could only go out once a day. It was a trip to the market, or to the pharmacy, or a walk around the block. It was a hot and sunny spring, an event that did not recur in the following years, and she took advantage of these walks to unwind and get to know the little of the city that was allowed to her. During one of these walks, feeling the need for something creative to maintain her mental health, she had an idea for a new project: "what if I photographed the neighbors at their doorsteps, respecting the 2 meters distance covid safe?"

It would be a great opportunity for her to occupy herself at this time when almost nothing happened, to interact with new people, and document a historic moment. Less than a month after her arrival, she dressed confidently, presented her project through the neighborhood WhatsApp group, and to her surprise, one by one, the neighbors embraced the idea.

The “Two Meters Apart Portrait Project” captured 14 neighbors in front of their houses with colorful doors holding an object that represented this moment of isolation and the routine during the lockdown. There were people taking their dogs, laptops, canned food and posing in slippers, a clCamila also used these encounters to ask what had been the biggest learning experience since the start of the pandemic, listening attentively with an open heart. It was her way of understanding what it was like to photograph people in England, almost like a test drive.

From this project, real connections were born and she even received an invitation to a summer barbecue when restrictions eased. She won over the English with her relaxed manner, her broad smile and her genuine interest. She jokes that beneath their seemingly serious exterior, the English are just like us, and she concludes that this project would have hardly been viable at any other time.

What right timing!

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