Brazilian Fruit & Veg Street Market

Wherever I travel, one of my favourite destinations is to visit the local street market. Since the olden days, these have been the beating hearts of any city. An eclectic gathering place exhibiting the freshness of each region’s vegetation. Brazil is an exception, as it’s year-round tropical sunshine and fertile soil is the breadbasket for many products enjoyed throughout the world.

I’m in Rio at the moment getting my daily doses of Vitamins A to D. I popped into the local market on the last Friday with my Nikon D800 to capture some of the action. I trust this post will inspire you to visit your local market to submit stock images!


Interestingly, in Portuguese the days of the week aren’t named after planets like in other Latin languages, but after consecutive market days (except for Saturday and Sunday). “Sexta-Feira”, which precisely translates to “Sixth Market Day”.

My goal was to capture typically Brazilian produce and people. My first sight was a man grinding away at a piece of sugar cane to make a sugary drink known as caldo de cana. It looks like mud but tastes like heaven!

Fruit and vegetable street market in Ipanema, Rio de Janeiro
Brazil’s national drink, cachaca, is made from sugar cane

In Brazil, it’s common to eat pasteis de queijo / carne while drinking the sugar cane drink. These are thin-crust fried pastries with assorted fillings, usually cheese or meat, but also sometimes shrimp or bacalhau.

Fruit and vegetable market in Ipanema, Rio de Janeiro
Preparing pasteis de queijo / carne

Tropical Fruits

On my quest to capture unique and interesting subjects, I was on the lookout for the rarer tropical fruits. On such fruit is known as Jaca (Jackfruit) and grows to huge sizes on the sides of trees.

Fruit and vegetable market in Ipanema, Rio de Janeiro
Not my favourite fruit as it tastes a bit rubbery and not as sweet as other tropical fruits

The usual coconuts on sale by themselves are done to death (a quick search will confirm this), so I added the market crowd into the frame to give it a story.

Fruit and vegetable market in Ipanema, Rio de Janeiro
Coconut water for sale

Continuing on capturing the wider market theme, I patiently waited for the right moment & frame to catch this salesman proudly standing next to his prize. Keep in mind that capturing just one person doing one thing, makes for the most powerful of stock photos. This strategy falls within the same lines of my previous article about one person walking past a shop to illustrate editorials. Try it out for yourself and let me know how you get on.

Fruit and vegetable market in Ipanema, Rio de Janeiro
Patiently waiting for a scene to unfold in a busy market paid off (literally)

Contrast the above image with the following “snapshot”, which is cluttered/busy. Clearly, the above has much more commercial/editorial value – what do you think?

Fruit and vegetable market in Ipanema, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
A nice snapshot – that’s it. At this stage in my photography career, I challenge myself to produce much better shots


Tropical fish, both of the saltwater and freshwater types make for interesting material. Again, waiting for the right moment paid off on the left when the exchange between customer and fishmonger occurred.

On the right, the image will be submitted as commercial since there are no identifiable people and/or trademarks.

Fish market in Ipanema, Rio de Janeiro
Sardines for sale. Brazilians are a fascinating mix of ethnicity, including European, West African and indigenous.

Some commercial shots

I made some attempts to isolate some of the fruits with the market background (usingi selective focus and larger aperture) with the aim of submitting as commercial. I’m pleased with the results.

Carnival time

A Brazilian market is incomplete without a little bit of samba…especially since carnival is only two months away. A nice musical way to end this piece.

Older Brazilian man playing drums in a street market in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil


This was a 30 minute walk-around job, plus two hours later of post-processing and keywording. I don’t expect huge sales from most of these, but you never know these days…

Here are some key takeaways from photographing street markets:

  • Don’t ask people for permission to shoot them…I find that it takes away from the authenticity of the moment;
  • Wait for the right moment – remember that one person doing one thing is easier on the eye than a crowded scene with too much going on;
  • If possible, clone out identifiable logos and trademarks from produce to submit as commercial. If there are people in the background, try to blur them using selective focus or later on in post-processing;
  • Research the different types of produce (including local vocabulary) to ensure effective keywords;

Until next time where I’ll continue writing about my experiences in this wonderful city.


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