What does City of Jungle mean? And why the hell do we have the "of"…
Leaving a boring job, buying a ticket and having an amazing life – does it always work like this? Thousands of articles tell us the story about the successful life of brave people who are strong enough to follow their dreams. I was inspired by one story, fascinated by another, thrilled by the third, and then I started to get bored.
There should be a parallel drama hiding somewhere behind and nobody bothers to tell it. This was one of the reasons why I had this conversation with a photographer from Brazil, Fabio Kotinda, to ask him about the failures, difficulties and discoveries that he had while searching for the right direction. Take a look before starting your own changes.
Fabio, tell us about your background: as far as I know, there was a period in your life when you were planning to relate your future with engineering. Do you remember the day when you decided to take a totally reverse direction? What happened?
Yes, I remember. I wasn’t so sure about my decision at the time, but I made the change anyway. I left the engineering course and searched for a more creative activity, and I found it. I worked as a designer for around 10 years. After all this time I started to feel that I wasn’t growing anymore as a professional, nor as a person. I had the money but no time to travel as much as I wanted to, so I came up with changes again. I had studied photography years ago at the university, and even though I liked it, I considered it a hobby rather than a career. As it turned out, I was very wrong. So after 10 years spent in the designer’s chair, I left everything and got down to my old passion – photography. To be honest, it wasn’t easy. I had to start from scratch: there wasn’t enough money, some assignments had to be done for free, I needed to study the technical aspects and how the industry worked. Nonetheless, I had persistence and worked hard to reach everything that I have now.
Most of the time people get used to their work even if they don’t like it. As I can see, your work is your pleasure. Do you think that finding your way is a real luck or a purposeful aspiration?
To work with something that you really love and would do for free is amazing. Luck has its part in it, but if you are not looking for changes, luck is not going to help you. So think about your exclusive skills and where you can use them. Try different possibilities, scenarios. Don’t forget that all careers have boring tasks and adverse aspects to deal with. As a photographer, I spend a lot of time working on my personal marketing, making proposals, estimates, editing, engaging in my social media. It all comes down to sitting in front of the computer. But I don’t mind because the moments when I’m shooting or traveling make up for it. Take care when you choose a career. Research a lot and make a pros-and-cons list. If you are willing to do the “cons” part, go for it. But work really hard on those!
“My cousin lately is joining some part of my trips. This one was at Serra da Capivara, Brazil. What an impressive landscape. Couldn’t show how big was it.”
You have visited and lived in many places. Can you share the map of your life with the readers?
I’ve been to a lot of countries (around 30) and cities (around 200), and sometimes I spend months traveling in the same country. So it looks like I’m constantly living somewhere else. But I say “living” only when I’ve been in the place for more than 3 months. It’s a personal thing, don’t know why. I lived in Madrid and São Paulo for around 2 years each. And now I live in my hometown, Rio de Janeiro.
How does your daily life look like when you spend so many days a year in different places?
When I’m at home, I have the routine life everyone has: I wake up early to work out or surf, meet my friends and family, catch up with my favorite TV shows. Also, I do lots of planning, replying to e-mails, arranging work meetings, editing and, of course, shooting.
And when I’m traveling, I also have a sort of a routine. It’s a bit different because I spend most of the time backing up and organizing all the data from photo shoots. I also try to keep eating properly and work out whenever I can. I need to keep healthy and fit for all the activities I do.
“A day of small waves at home.”
Changing your place from time to time might sound like a dream come true. But is it really like this? Do you face any difficulties living this way?
For me, it is like a dream, but not all of it. I don’t travel fancy, and some adventures don’t include any luxury at all (I mean, not even toilet). Nevertheless, these moments are part of the adventure. Another challenge I face is getting sick. I’ve already got food-poisoned in Thailand and some bacterial skin infection in Laos. Luckily, it doesn’t happen too often, but getting sick in a foreign country, when you are alone and don’t speak the local language, adds extra stress. Besides, I think there are lots of disadvantages but I can’t see them that way, all the bad parts are the ones that take me out of my comfort zone. And when I’m out of my comfort zone, I learn more about myself. So the difficulties, after all, are benefits.
Seeing your photos is breathtaking. Can you tell us about the most amazing experience that you had while taking pictures?
First of all, thank you. I think I have had many amazing experiences while photo shooting. The best photos aren’t always the best experiences, though. But I guess my life-changing moment was in New York City when I bought a camera, some lenses and went out for shootings. That day I felt everything was aligned. It was 2008, and I took one of my all-time favorite pictures. It’s still in my portfolio.
You recently released a video about traveling. The main question for the audience was “Why do you travel?” Can I ask you the same question?
Ahaha, I get this a lot after the video. Fair enough. I hope not to sound too cliché, but I travel to live new experiences, meet people, cultures and learn from them. So I decided to share my experiences through pictures and now – through videos as well.
Seeing your posts on Facebook always makes me jealous because you do so many thrilling activities: hiking, surfing, bungee jumping, and so on. Is there anything left that you haven’t done and want to try?
All the things you named, but in different locations, climates, heights. And one thing in particular: wing suit jumping. But I still have to finish the skydiving course I started so many years ago and then do countless jumps to have the permission and ability to do it. Not sure if I’m going to but it’s still at the top of my bucket list.
What do you think can limit people from doing the things they want to do? Is there anything that you couldn’t do because of your own restrictions?
Their mind. And for me it’s the same. I often find excuses like: I don’t have the right equipment, don’t have enough money, time, skills… We compare ourselves too much with the people who have already done something and most of the time we forget that we need to find our own way, with our resources and skills. We have to figure out a different way to get there.
What can you wish or advice to the readers of City of Jungle?
Try to find what makes you happy, what makes you grow, what challenges you, what makes you a better person. I’m still looking for it. But the search is amazing!
Visit Fabio page and see more pictures: