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Brief story of the Tucson Gem Show 2022 on film


My friend Martina is a serious photographer. A photojournalist to be exact. For instance, she's now working on a beautiful project on nomads.
She asks me, will you come with me to this fair of gems, stones and precious rocks? I go there to see if there are nomads, I'm sure at the fair you would take plenty of beautiful pictures with your colors and irony! Yes but, if I come, I’ll bring the Mamiya. I want to try to make a reportage using film because I‘ve never tried before, I bought this camera and I want to use it!

8 hours of driving and we are in Arizona. These Saguaro cactus look so cool. It’s all like I've imagined, like in Willy E. Coyote so to speak. If I had a shutter release cable and some black and white film with me it would not be a bad idea to take some nocturnal photos of the desert.




We get up early and boom, there we are. An expanse of hangars crammed with giant rocks, sparkling spiky crystals, huge and perfectly round spheres that glow in the blinding sun. Shit, this Mamiya weighs like a shot gun wedding and I feel pretty awkward and uncomfortable with it. It's not exactly the kind of camera you want to use to shoot a reportage. Will I be able to make it work?

Rows of bracelets, spiritual stones, but also fancy jewels, incense, hippies, fat cats. There are some ugly faces too, yes, who knows if someone under the counter is selling more than we can see, we wonder.




Oh, here's a nice big stand. I see people diving into the crystals.
Hello, look you can take pictures of everything. Thank you, are you the owner of the stand?
No. Yes, well, no, it's my father Mário. He points him out to me. A tall, burly man who talks, who sells. You guys have beautiful stones. Yes, we bring them from Brazil, we are Brazilian like most of the exhibitors here. On their business card he proudly shows me that he bears the same name as his father.

But, besides the gems, can I also take a picture of you? Maybe with the mineral you like best, which is worth more to you.





Do you know why I chose this one, Mário Jr asks me?
If you look closely, you see inside there’s a sort of mountain, do you see it? This makes it very precious, I would say the most precious we have.

As soon as I leave the hangar, I run into Zef. Man, what a character! Can I take a picture of you with your gems? Sure! He is barefoot, points out Martina who in the meantime has appeared out of nowhere and immediately disappears into thin air.

Listen, Zef, is that huge stone you lean on so proudly your most beautiful rock?
No, I only have these little ones. That is from the neighbor's stand. The mandarin is mine though.