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Macau 5.0 by Gonçalo Lobo Pinheiro

Macau 5.0 by Gonçalo Lobo Pinheiro is “a summary of the thousands of photographs I have taken since arriving in Macau” writes Pinheiro in his dedication. In the tradition of National Geographic but not as intimate as a W. Eugene Smith photo essay, Macau 5.0 is a documentary photography book—one that by the sheer number of photographs places objective observance over the photographer’s perspective, theme, or narrative. The approximate 300 images of daily life in Macau are sequenced like a catalogue by category: architecture, culture, work, play, etc., and are accompanied by captions that are informative like a local newspaper feature. Pinheiro’s straight photographs are so broadly inclusive that a number of standalone photographs are engaging and with the caption, educational. Macau 5.0 doesn’t pose many questions or demand much musing and attempts to show a place without pretext or pretense. The most referential facet of Macau 5.0 is perhaps the title. As far as I can tell the 5.0 is referential to the number of years Pinheiro spent photographing the work. If there is metaphor in the title, it is lost on me. In this information age the images show nothing unexpected from the Asian territory of Macau or that couldn’t be Googled. Although this type of photography is not what I spend a significant amount of time with, it is what informed my earliest interests in photography flipping through National Geographic and Life Photographers: What They Saw. If not photographs of sunsets, birthdays, or flowers, this genre of photography is also what most often comes to mind in conversation with individuals outside the often insular photography crowd with whom I do regularly engage about photography. This less romantic photography communicates information rather than suggests ideas—to inform more than to reveal. Macau 5.0 acts as summative detail of a place and its people as reported with about as much straight forward clear purposed objectivity as a camera can muster.