Young climate activist Greta Thunberg was named TIME Magazine’s 2019 Person of the Year. So, of course, this year’s issue of Person of the Year has her portrait on the cover. The photo was taken by Russian photographer Evgenia Arbugaeva, who shared some details and recalled the experience of meeting and photographing Greta in Portugal.
Evgenia says that it was not an easy task to prepare for this shoot. “When TIME asked me to photograph Greta, I was thinking how can I make a portrait that combines gentleness and at the same time courage,” she said. “How do I capture the intense, focused gaze inwards as well as outwards, which I feel is characteristic of Greta?”
But you gotta start somewhere, and Evgenia started with creating a mood board. According to TIME, it contained references “from Botticelli, Monet, Norse mythology, tarot cards, and Romantic period art.”
The photographer came to Portugal before Greta Thunberg. The young activist was still at sea, and it gave Evgenia time to scout for a perfect location. She found a quiet beach in Lisbon, with “almost no people besides some fishermen.” Considering how much people surround Greta wherever she goes, this location seemed ideal. It would give them the privacy and peace they needed.
On the day of the shoot, Greta arrived at the location in a Tesla rented for this occasion. The sun was going down, which created a golden light and pink sky. At the same time, as Evgenia recalls, “ocean tide was rising and waves were raging around her.”
“Greta stood tall and strong without moving, just a few strands of her hair fluttering in a gentle breeze. She looked straight ahead into the ocean she just crossed. At this moment it felt as if all nature elements and forces aligned to create the magic—the most treasured gift for a photographer.”
It seems like everything got together perfectly for Evgenia and Greta that day. The ocean and the sky combined create the sense of simultaneous gentleness and strength, the two traits photographer also captured in Greta. So, I believe that both are pleased with the result and that Evgenia managed to photograph the young activist exactly as she wanted.
You can read the full story on TIME Magazine’s website, and also find out more about this year’s Person of the Year here. Make sure to check out Evgenia Arbugaeva’s work, as she creates truly remarkable photographic stories.