João, a former metalworker, worked for social movements including the MST and Brasil de Fato. He recently spent five years photographing communities along the banks of the São Francisco river, whose traditional way of life is threatened by the increasing demands on the river, including the government’s giant project to channel waters from it to the semi-arid zone.
João, 56, was killed in a road accident, when the bus he was travelling in was hit by a lorry.
As Henrique Cortez, who worked with him, commented: “João was an extremely generous person, really committed to grassroot causes, who knew how to combine determined militancy with tenderness. His photographs, which were exceptionally beautiful and menaingful, were a translation of the sensitive way in which he looked at people, their lives and their everyday struggles. We all know the concept of photojournalism that teaches us that an image is worth more than a thousand words and João showed us just how true this was. His images inform, inspure and make us think.”