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Even in this time of crisis, Rui Miguel Cunha has not lost courage, and is concentrating on the positive side of life. In an interview, he explains about his current situation in a small town in Portugal, and reflects of what can be learned from the pandemic.

LFI: Could you describe the area you live in? How is the atmosphere there right now?
Rui Miguel Cunha: Sesimbra is a small Portuguese town, 36 kilometres from Lisbon. Like many towns and cities all over the world, it appears very deserted right now. The first weeks of the pandemic were very critical because no one seemed to be aware of the situation. As the government started closing down the schools and other places, we began to realize the scope of the problem. Right now, most people stay home and just go out for short periods of time, primarily to get basic needs. The atmosphere here is relatively calm, but some people are afraid of the future.

LFI: In what manner has the current situation changed your way of life?
I'm at home with my wife and our 2 children, Leonor (8) and Francisco (5). We just go outside to buy food, get some fresh air and have some exercise. Staying home everyday isn't the best thing in the world, but I think we are doing it to the best of our abilities. Considering all the wars around the world, it’s not the hardest thing to stay at home in order to fight the virus. Staying away from family, friends, work and everything we do in normal life is difficult; but like a marathon runner we need to make some sacrifices, in order to move on and stay alive.

The bad thing is not to be able to see my 90 year-old parents. There is only one person to deal with them every day, and my sister only visits them twice a week to minimize the risk. But seen from the positive side: now is the time to look out for each other. I think we live in a world lacking compassion, and everything happens so fast that nobody takes time for their fellow human beings. So this is the moment to reflect, and to prove to the world that we can be better then we have been so far.

LFI: Please tell us about your current photo project.

I started the This is Not a Diary project with three things in mind:
- First of all, as a documentary photographer I felt that my obligation was to document moments within the current situation.
- In second place, I want to leave a legacy for my children and my family – they deserve all my best.
- And thirdly, the Leica M is a camera I love to work with; but it’s just a rental camera which I got with the support of LFI. The most recent and current loan program for the camera ends in May; but I can’t go outside and shoot as I would in a normal situation, so this new project is a great way to take pictures non-stop and to say thank you.

All in all, the project keeps my mind focused on a great and positive target. Working with and for my family is like a gift. Of course, I’ve been photographing them since forever, but this is a very special moment for all of us.

LFI: What are your feelings about the future?
Of course, I’m concerned about the future from the social and economic point of view; but we must look forward to see some light in our lives. We need to believe in science and accept our new condition. We need to respect the medical people and those who spend every day on the front lines of this war. We need to look at our planet and at each other with much love. We just have to be patient and hope for new winds to blow.

Take care, love and be safe.

Interview: Danilo Rößger
All images on this page: © Rui Miguel Cunha
Equipment: Leica M Monochrom with Summilux-M 35 f/1.4 Asph.
© Luís Vasconcelos

Rui Miguel Cunha

Rui Miguel Cunha was born in Lisbon on June 1, 1976. Inspired by contemporary daily life, the photographer uses photo-journalistic concepts and a strong connection to pure street photography, to give his work a documentary narrative.

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