Mão na Lata is an education project aimed at the personal and social development of teenagers in the Maré district by means of photography and literature. The workshops are directed at young people between the ages of 11 and 17 years.


The pinhole technique used in the workshops allows us to explore the basics of photography in a playful way, from the construction of the cameras using recycled cans, to the moment of developing the negatives. Both the technical process and the work methodology are ideal for children and teenagers, since they provide a fun and collaborative learning process.


The main purpose of the meetings is to increase the participants’ perceptive capability through the creation of photographic images and narratives in text form. The contact with different artistic and cultural experiences, such as cinema, visual arts, literature, music and photography itself also encourages the youth to creatively take hold of the endless possibilities of their imagination and reflect upon their sense of identity and community.



The Mão na Lata project is the result of a partnership between the photographer Tatiana Altberg and the Redes de Desenvolvimento da Maré oscip (Public Interest Civil Society Organization). The project began in 2003 with handmade pinhole photography workshops for students in elementary and secondary education in two public schools in Maré. The project name was chosen by the students themselves for the exhibition that took place a year after the start of the workshops.

As some of the students were very committed to the work and wanted to give continuity to the activities, we proposed a study group to explore issues concerning the construction of images and narratives. From this initiative was born the Mão na Lata group, that carried out a work, among others, based on one of Jorge Amado’s novels, published in the book “Mão na Lata e Berro D’Água” (Nova Fronteira Publisher) in 2006.

The current project Mão na Lata - Do artesanal ao digital (from handmade to digital), continues the work begun in 2003 with a new group of youth and is sponsored by Petrobras, through the Programa Petrobras Cultural 2010.


Areas of Work

The Mão na Lata project develops two main areas of work: The self-portrait and the creation of narratives.


Taking pictures of themselves is very natural for young people today. The images are produced widely so as to be used in virtual social networks. We conceive self-portraits as an exercise whereby the students look at themselves and their life, and come in contact with their potential in a creative way. The challenge of this exercise is to make young people understand the self-portrait as a critical reflection exercise on their self and their surroundings. The self-portrait is understood by us in an expanded way, capable of revealing the photographer’s house, friends, family and paths, as well as a way to translate a state of mind, a poem or a landscape.

Creation of narratives

Improving the ability to create narratives, whether in the form of images or text, is essential for self-recognition and critical reflection on the world. The combination of word and image enables the development of narrative ability in a playful and fun manner. The possible paths are endlessly varied. We construct narratives written from photographs, short stories, movies and song lyrics. We also take inverse paths by photographing the narratives created by the participants or by other authors. The exercise of conducting photographic essays from their own stories allows young people the pleasurable potential of reading and writing.


From handmade to digital

In 2012 the Mão na Lata project counts with the support of Petrobras, that is sponsoring the one year duration workshops ‘From handmade to digital’ through the Programa Petrobras Cultural 2010 and the Rouanet Law for Cultural Incentive.

As well as giving continuity to the image creation work with the handmade pinhole technique, students will be introduced to basic principles and practice of digital photography. The workshops will also be devoted to reading the work of several writers, as well as essay writing by the students themselves.

Teaching of the photographic processes together with the literary exercises will develop, in a multidisciplinary way, the creativity and narrative ability of the participants.

Many of the workshops taking place throughout 2012 will be freely inspired by the works of Machado de Assis. The image creation and written narrative exercises will be conducted with the intent of translating some of the themes, moods and psychological landscapes created by the writer.

After a year of activities, we’ll publish a book with the workshop participants’ literary and iconographic forays into Machado de Assis’ work.

Follow our activities here on the site and in our blog!


The first group

Amanda Paiva, Angélica Silva, Deyvid Ferreira, Fagner França, Felipe Oliveira de Lima, Renato Nascimento were the kids in the first group formed by the workshop and who named the project. The six students participated in the activities from 2004 to 2008 and their work was published in the book Mão na Lata e Berro D’agua in 2006 by Nova Fronteira



The Mão na Lata project develops its activities in partnership with the Redes de Desenvolvimento da Maré institution which aims for an integrated development of the communities in Maré through action in different spheres of social policies in the areas of: Education, Culture, Communication, Community Participation and Public Safety.

In 2012 we count with the support of Petrobas, which sponsors us through the Programa Petrobras Cultural 2010 and the Rouanet Law for Cultural Incentive.

Other partnerships we have established for the project are: Secretaria de Cultura and Secretaria de Educação do Estado do Rio de Janeiro, through the Núcleo de Cultura nas Escolas project, Projeto Imagens do Povo, Observatório de Favelas, Casa Daros, and the Cidade Invertida project.



In more than one opportunity, Mão na Lata exhibited its works, participated in seminaries, publications and workshops inside and outside its community.

In 2006, invited by the publisher Nova Fronteira, we published a book interpreting the universe of the Quincas character from Jorge Amado’s A Morte e a Morte de Quincas Berro Dágua novel, released in the International Literary Festival of Paraty (FLIP).