My name is Octavio Campos Salles and I am a professional photographer from Brazil. I was born in São Paulo in 1979 and now live with my wife and 9 year old boy (and a dog) in the island of Ilhabela, off the SE coast. Since childhood I’ve been very attracted to nature, collecting crabs and other critters at the beach, geckos in the city, frogs in wetlands, surfing, snorkeling, walking the forest trails, etc. Soon I got a taste for sport fishing, and took it quite seriously for some years, even appearing on the cover of the North American magazine “Wild on the Fly” in 2004. My fly fishing trips throughout Brazil (and abroad, I fished a lot in Florida too) eventually turned into a job, taking clients from all over the world to the Amazon to catch big Peacock Bass in remote waters. I worked with this for nearly 8 years, which was a very good experience in guiding tours.
The move to photography was gradual. At first, like all fisherman on the planet, I was mostly interested in making my fish look bigger. So I bought a Nikon D70 in March 2004 with a wide-angle lens. Then in 2006 me and my business partner collected the money from the end of the season and went on the craziest expedition of our lives. We were going, without any reason really, to Serra do Aracá, a super remote tepui mountain in the Amazon near the border with Venezuela. It took us 7 days just to get there, slowly navigating with a large canoe through narrowing river channels, hiking through virgin rainforest and climbing slippery rocks. Meals were whatever we managed to hunt or fish. We didn’t quite get to where we wanted – at the base of the largest waterfall in Brazil, discovered by the Army only in the mid 90′s with survey flights and never before reached from underneath – but we did walk through areas that no “white men” had ever stepped before. Even our native guides were impressed. During that trip I photographed a rare bird for the first time ever, and as far as I know it remains to this day the only known photo of this species, the Caura Antbird. This photo won the largest Brazilian bird photography contest in the category “best ornithological record” and a pretty good amount of money as prize, enough for me to buy my first pro tele, a 300mm f/2.8. Later I would win the same contest again, but this time on the “best photo” category with a photo of two macaws playing in mid-air.
All of a sudden I found myself photographing or watching birds more often then I was fishing. I began “discovering” my local birds and the incredible diversity of species in the Atlantic Rainforest and never looked back. I started guiding photo tours in 2007 to the Pantanal, a place I know intimately since childhood. I was among the pioneers to start modern jaguar photo tours to the Pantanal. Today my photo tours are specially focused on wild cats, and I am proud to say that I am the only photo tour guide offering tours to dependably photograph all of the 3 largest cats in the Americas: Jaguar, Puma and Ocelot. My goal now is to include some of the other smaller species as well.
My photos have been published in several magazines and books worldwide, including National Geographic. I have published my first book in 2013, showing the most well preserved aspects of the Atlantic Rainforest. More info on it, and sample photos, can be found at www.kaaete.com.br.