Daily Travel Photo: Rio Stairs

Daily Travel Photo: Rio Stairs

The famous stairs in Rio de Janeiro

Rio Stairs

The Set Up

In Rio, as in any city, some streets are simply are not as beautiful as others.  Some of us have even lived on those streets.  We blame the government for not cleaning them up, but we do little to change things ourselves.  This walking street in Rio de Janeiro is different.  One of the local residents, an artist, took pride in the stairs that laid outside of his front porch.  So instead of letting them fade away, he took the initiative and beautified them.  The entire set of stairs (more pictures to come) are covered in these brightly coloured tiles, and include other tiles sent from all over the world.

The Shot

I really wanted this shot to represent Rio.  I took the shot from level with the middle of the word and focused on the R of Rio letting the word fade away.  I think that in doing this it focuses your attention to “Rio” and then leads the eye across the image.  I obviously shot this on a wide aperture, but didn’t want to be too wide that Janeiro was completely out of focus.  I shot this image on f4.5 at 36mm with 1/500seconds worth of exposure time, Iso100.

Where do we go from here?

As I’ve arrived in Rio a couple of articles are due for this amazing city.  On Monday an article about the Rio’s mainstay in the negative news will be the topic in an article called “Rio and the Bad News Bears.”

Author: Brendan van Son

Author: I am a travel writer and photographer from Alberta, Canada. Over my years as a travel photographer, I have visited 6 of the 7 continents and more countries than I have any desire to count. If you want to improve your skills, be sure to check out my travel photography channel on Youtube . Also, check out my profile on . to learn a little bit more about me and my work.

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  1. The artists is Jorge Selarón! And names of the stairs are Escadaria Selarón. Sadly when I went to visit it was night time and my pictures didn’t come out as nice as I would have liked. Great capture!

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    • Luckily, I managed to get about 20 shots that I really like from here. I have one with a boy climbing the stairs smiling back at me… I will post it at some point.

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  2. I love that Andi told us the artist’s name and about the stairs because your photo is so wonderful…
    Patti thecrazychef somewhere in Mexico

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  3. It looks like a cool mosaic. Every city has a focal point (i’ve been dying to go to Moscow to capture the Kremlin). I think your shot came out better than you thought it did. Love the colors. Rio is on my list next as a destination.

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  4. I love this place! Did you get to talk to Selaron? If you bring him a tile from your home country/town he will add it to the stairs (or if you’re really lucky, let you place it yourself). When I told him I am from Pittsburgh, PA, he started talking about how he’d spent time with Andy Warhol (born in Pgh). Fascinating guy!

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    • Ya, we chatted for a bit. He is a brilliant dude, just started showing me all the tiles from Canada. I asked him about his fascination with pregnant chicks too, he said “no comment”

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  5. I’ve always wondered what the stairs were called. Keep seeing them in movies or friend’s photographs. I hope to run by them next time I visit Rio.

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  6. That’s a nice shot!

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  7. Good photo, good eye, I think you got what you aimed for.
    Enjoy Rio, Brazil and have lots of Caiparinas. Try Artic beer as well

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  8. Great photo Brendan. My big regret from visiting the stairs was not buying one of the tiles that Seleron sells – the man is clearly an insane genius, it was like having the chance to buy a piece of art from Dali in person and not doing it. Doh! At the time I thought my budget was too tight and I would break it in my pack.

    While you are in Rio think about visiting a favela. I wasn’t too sure about doing it at first, but it was a really great experience. I have a post here that I wrote about it if you are interested?



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    • ya, I couldn’t buy a piece either because I’d have to pack it or ship it… I will buy one someday though

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