Shutterstock is made possible by our network of over 55,000 contributing artists around the globe. In an effort to celebrate the personal stories behind the images in our collection, we’re proud to bring you this monthly contributor spotlight series.

Recently, we were paid a visit by one of last year’s Shutterstock Stories grant recipients, Brazilian photographer Beto Chagas, whose original Stories submission won the hearts (and votes) of thousands, earning him a $25,000 creative grant.

Beto, a São Paulo native, stopped by Shutterstock’s headquarters in the Empire State Building during a vacation in NYC. Below, you’ll hear from Beto in his own words about what it was like to receive a Stories grant and how his grandfather inspired him to become a photographer.

Check out a special lightbox of Beto’s work below or view his entire portfolio »