‘I want to capture the East Algarve in images’

Ron Isarin (52) originally comes from Gouda in the Netherlands. In 2006, he moved to the south of Portugal together with his girlfriend Sjouke, and now they live close to Tavira. Ron is a photographer and owner of BLOSSOM, a concept store in the centre of Tavira.

See the original article in Enjoy the Algarve – magazine November 2017


What inspired you to move to the Algarve?

Ron: I’ve always wanted to move abroad: back when I was 20, I’d already bought a one-way ticket to Spain. Luckily, living abroad was also what my girlfriend wished. The Dutch rat race wasn’t what we wanted anymore; too much stress and too little time to enjoy a coffee with friends. About 13 years ago, we went on holidays to warmer European countries, looking specifically for a place where we could settle. When we got to the East Algarve, it had sun, sea, and all the other ingredients we were looking for.


When did you feel at home here?

Ron: Even before we moved here! The first time we came on holiday to the East Algarve, I already felt at home. Perhaps because I didn’t feel at home anymore in Holland. I had enough of eating a sandwich from a plastic bag during a rushed 30 minutes lunch break. Here, they take their time and have a warm meal in the afternoon. Life here is way more relaxed.


Was it hard to get accustomed to the Portuguese lifestyle?

Ron: No, that was quite easy. It just suits us here. On every previous holiday to a sunny country, I always felt very sad to leave. Not only because it meant the vacation was over, but also because I didn’t want to leave the laid-back southern European lifestyle behind.


How does your life differ now you live here?

Ron: Back in Holland, I was always busy: I worked in finance, had an own company, volunteered for the WWF. Here, it feels like I have more time to do what I want. The first ten years of living here, I’ve been doing freelance work, and earlier this year I decided to open BLOSSOM. This is a concept store, a cross between a gallery and a shop, located in Tavira’s old centre. All the pictures in the shop are taken be me, and 99% are of Portugal, mainly of the East Algarve. The first few months I had to find a formula that worked; now I usually spend around 40 hours a week in the shop, but I also make time for taking pictures and giving photography workshops.


What is your favourite Algarve moment?

Ron: Anytime I’m at the beach. I have something with the ocean; it might be just water, but for me it’s like a magnet. In the winter I go for long beach walks on Praia do Barril and in summer, I go for a dive into the sea or paddle to Ilha de Tavira in a canoe. As I live only 400m from sea, I’m always near the ocean.


What annoys you here?

Ron: When foreigners don’t respect the Portuguese people. Here in the Algarve, they have their own rhythm. This may be different to what you’re used to or what you expect, but if you’re on holiday or living here, you have to adjust, have patience and respect the locals. Sadly, this respect is sometimes lacking.


What do you miss most from Holland?

Ron: My friends. They come and visit, but I don’t see them as often as I did when living in the Netherlands; you don’t go on a 2 hours and 40 minutes flight just to meet up for a coffee.


Which 5 words would best describe the Algarve for you?

Ron: Sun, sea, paradise, good vibes, good life.


What’s your favourite spot?

Ron: Tavira and the surrounding area, like Ilha de Tavira, the Ria Formosa and the serra behind Tavira. It’s just beautiful: gorgeous nature, quiet, there’s still space in this part of the Algarve. I also really like the unspoiled west coast. On a whole, I definitely prefer the East Algarve; Portimão or Albufeira isn’t my thing.


In what way does the Algarve inspire you?

Ron: The Algarve has inspired me to become a photographer. Although photography runs in my family – both my father and grandfather are professional photographers – Holland never motivated me to take pictures. It was only after I came here and saw the sights and the colours of the south of Portugal, that my passion for photography started. Part of it probably has to do with seeing things different after I just moved over: people who’ve lived here all their lives don’t notice that old bridge or that nice building anymore. Because it has always been there, it’s normal for them, whereas if you see it for the first time, like a tourist would, you appreciate it more. The first ten years I’ve mainly taken pictures of people and concerts. Now, I also shoot more of my surroundings, ranging from the city of Tavira to the skyline of Olhão, and from boats in the sea to landscapes in the countryside. I want to capture the East Algarve in images.


How’s your Portuguese coming along?

Ron: After living here for ten years, it’s OK. My girlfriend’s Portuguese is way better though; I have more talent for mathematics and finance, not so much for languages. I’m the type of guy who wants to know the language pretty well before he speaks, so it took me around five years to say my first sentence… Before that I tried learning Portuguese by watching the television and reading newspapers, aiming to get to an average level this way. However, it doesn’t work like that; you can only learn a language by talking.


Do you have a secret tip for our readers?

Ron: Visit Tavira and Ilha de Tavira. This might not be so much of a secret anymore nowadays, but I definitely recommend going for a visit. These are my favourite places in the whole of the Algarve.


Words and pictures courtesy of Ron Isarin.

See the original article in Enjoy the Algarve – magazine November 2017


Ron Isarin

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