About The Travelbooks


My work reflects the simplicity with which I see life in its visual form.

The commissioned architectural work I do (see cirocoelho.com) is very methodical, structured and detail-oriented. My personal work, shown in The Travelbooks series, is just the opposite. As I wander the streets of urban centers, I seek to disappear. I have no intention to exert control. I don’t start out with images in mind. I often shoot without looking through the viewfinder, literally from the hip. I have made strong photographs that way. Unlike the usual attitude of the media, I don’t decide to do a story and go out looking for ways to prove it. I go out on the streets to learn.

The process of creating images that are alive entails an intense interaction with the world around me. Sometimes I pause and step back, and the engagement is more internal; sometimes I fearlessly 'get in peoples faces', exposing myself to their scrutiny and reactions. Hungarian war photographer Robert Capa, author of the famous image of the Falling Soldier in 1936 during the Spanish Civil War explains: “If your pictures aren’t good enough, you’re not close enough.”

   Florence Lovers   .  Florence. ©Ciro Coelho. All Rights Reserved.

Florence Lovers. Florence. ©Ciro Coelho. All Rights Reserved.


As an image-maker, I am a modern-day forager. This wordless, tacit process is charged with a fierce yearning, a wanting-for-myself hunger. Not so much for the scene itself, as for the inalienable right to experience reality, have it percolate through me and come out altered, remanufactured. And in this process, I learn about my inner world, somehow reflected by those images. French photographer Edouard Boubat writes: “Chacun va vers l’image qu’il porte déjà en lui-même”. “One goes toward the image that one already carries within”.

Cities like New York, San Francisco, Havana, Tokyo, Paris, London, Rome and São Paulo, to name a few, exude a mood, an “it”, a quality of being that feeds me deeply. It seems that the city is my object, but in truth I am its object being affected by its pulsating life.


  J'ai Conscience.  Paris. ©Ciro Coelho. All Rights Reserved.

J'ai Conscience. Paris. ©Ciro Coelho. All Rights Reserved.


Despite having been highly influenced and inspired by documentary photographers who have portrayed the hardships of humankind such as Sebastião Salgado and James Nachtway, my quest differs from theirs. When I started my photographic education 25 years ago as an assistant in Fashion and Advertising photography, I was driven by a love of beauty and people. A need for further depth led me to documentary photography and photojournalism, where I became aware of a bias toward glorifying hardship, an attitude reenforced by an ever growing trend in modern-day media reporting. I veered again toward beauty, this time seeking its unstaged occurrence in daily life.

I have since carried out a committed search for gems that stem from sheer simplicity as I witness human life in urban centers. In a globalized world of widely accessible technology and information, manic multi-tasking, and the illusion that more is better, simplicity is elusive, as is relating to what is right in front of us, in our present moment.

  Wedding Photographer.  Rome. ©Ciro Coelho. All Rights Reserved.

Wedding Photographer. Rome. ©Ciro Coelho. All Rights Reserved.


In 2008, in a retrospective of his work in Paris, I came across American photographer Saul Leiter’s arrestingly beautiful photographs. In his words, “I must admit that I am not a member of the Ugly School. I have a great regard for certain notions of beauty. Some photographers think that by taking pictures of human misery, they are addressing a serious problem. I do not think that misery is more important than happiness.” Leiter’s assertion, contextualized by the stunning beauty, depth and impact of his color images shot in the 40’s and 50’s in New York, clarified, confirmed and validated the pursuit so dear to my soul.

The Travelbooks series is my journal of moments of reflection, thrill and joy as I wander the capitals of the world documenting life during the second decade of the Third Millennium.


Ciro Coelho

Santa Barbara, California