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The photography in the works by Orlando Ribeiro
Since his first articles, and in the more than two hundred titles that he would publish during his long career, the usage of photographs, maps or drawings was dictated by the conjunction of two major criteria. One was the scientific relevance of including graphic documentation to illustrate the topics. The other was the availability of resources to carry out the publication in a more or less expensive way.
In the Preface of his doctoral thesis A Arrábida (1935) Orlando Ribeiro noted already that "only material constraints prevented the use of maps, drawings and photographs, nowadays essential in works of this kind". Later on, whenever possible in financial terms, he would complement his texts with the adequate maps and expressive photographs.
Examples of Orlando Ribeiro’s first illustrated articles, that can be found in major French journals, are "Observations geólogiques et morphologiques dans les environs de Vila Velha de Ródão" published in 1939 in Revue de Géographie Physique et de Géologie Dynamique, and "Remarques sur la morphologie de la région de Sintra et Cascais", issued in 1940 in Revue Géographique des Pyrénées et du Sud-Ouest.
In 1940/41 he managed to get published an extensive article of 90 pages, "Contribuição para o estudo do pastoreio na Serra da Estrela", including 6 maps, several tables, 24 photographs and one drawing. This appeared in Revista da Faculdade de Letras, the same journal of the Faculty of Arts of the University of Lisbon that in 1937 had published his dissertation A Arrábida with no illustrations.
As soon as he could afford it, the young graduate Orlando Ribeiro acquired an excellent camera Leica that would be a permanent companion in all his travels in Portugal and throughout the World.
When Orlando Ribeiro organized, in 1949, the International Congress of Geography, of the International Geographical Union, he could arrange the means to publish six guides prepared for the congress participants in their excursions in Portugal. Covering most of the Portuguese territory and the Madeira Island, they included important graphic materials, in maps, drawings and photographs. These guides, three of which would be republished later, attained a wide international audience and were, for many years, a major source for the geography of Portugal, available in other languages.
The work A Ilha do Fogo e as suas erupções (1954) was one of the rare opportunities for Orlando Ribeiro to publish a significant set of photographs. This work demonstrated the importance of the photographic record for transmitting information about landscapes, geological events and the local people, in all their diversity and ways of life.
Geografia e Civilização (1961) is another example of a work intended to the general public that included a significant number of photographs. This orientation was, at the time, already adopted for the publications of the Centro de Estudos Geográficos of the University of Lisbon.
More recently, several works by Orlando Ribeiro have been republished including photographs and other graphic elements that were not in the original editions. In this case is A Originalidade da Expansão Portuguesa, published by João Sá da Costa Editora, in 1994; Goa em 1956, Relatório ao Governo, a text that was published for the first time by the Comissão Nacional para as Comemorações dos Descobrimentos Portugueses in 1999, and that includes 70 photographs selected from more than one thousand taken by the author in his mission to India in 1955-56; and A Arrábida: esboço geográfico, published by the Câmara Municipal de Sesimbra and Fundação Oriente, in February 2004.
Despite these publications, most of the abundant photographic production of Orlando Ribeiro remains unknown for the general public. The collection is available to all those that, for study and research purposes, use the services of the Centro de Estudos Geográficos where his photographic archive is held.