“I don’t think photography can capture what’s called “true essence”. That’s an old belief. Photography represents an image of the person that maybe contains some truth.” Inês de Castro
Interview by Vanessa Silva Miranda
What is your early memory relating to photography?
Actually my earliest memory related to photography is not that old. When I went to Visual Arts in High School I was thinking about painting until I realized that it was not for me. Even today, a huge part of my references comes from painting. For instance, the light in Fragonard’s paintings always made me want to touch the dresses fabric and feel that warm light. The same with Sorolla’s beach scenes, I just want to get in that bright water. It’s superb!
You work with both digital and analog photography. What are the main differences and do you have a favourite?
I work mostly with 35mm film. For me it makes more sense, it completes my way of thinking photography and aesthetically creates this unique environment full of feeling and texture. Now, I only use digital for practical reasons. Analog as the only disadvantage of being too expensive…well I mean there’s always amazon or expired film.
You do a lot of portraits, which is normally a very difficult type of photography. How do you work with your subjects to capture their true essence?
I don’t think photography can capture what’s called “true essence”. That’s an old belief. Photography represents an image of the person that maybe contains some truth. I don’t consider portrait photography that difficult (thinking of what I do). There’s always some delivery from the subject when she or he accepts to be photographed. I start with that sentiment of trust and see in what way I can bring some of that to my images.
Aesthetically your work is very detail oriented and intimate, with a palette of soft colours and a strong light composition, creating an idea of closeness to the subjects. Is this always a conscientious choice, do you prefer to shoot what’s close to you?
I like to know the people I photograph and that is what normally happens but it’s not a condition. Sometimes it’s quite nice to know someone for the first time through photography. This first encounter can bring something special to the photographs. Aesthetically, l prefer soft paled colours because for me it’s an invitation to come close. It makes perfect sense to me when I think about intimacy. I think the “absence” of colour brings silence to the image and highlights the subject.
Your series Objects is about to be turned into a book. Tell us more about that project.
When I started to photograph in a more conscientious way I found a great interest in places habited by objects without human presence. That tenuous life carried by some wet towel left on the room floor or some dead plant forgotten in the kitchen corner made me capture that absent presence in my “Vacuum” series from 2010. I started “Objects” with the same motivation only this time I feel it has a portraiture character. The subjects are always there for me, experiencing light transformation and the passage of time that transcends to the photographs. During this process I found my inspiration in Giorgio Morandi’s still life paintings, where I learn so much about the relations of time through light and shape.
What inspires you, both as a photographer and a creative person?
I find my inspiration in my daily life and in the people I meet. Sometimes is just something I read in a book or some painting I see in an exhibition. My thoughts and ideas in a photograph mostly come from something I’ve experienced which I develop into a new context.
A portrait you would love to take
I would love to photograph Alba Galocha.
Favourite camera to shoot with
I don’t think I’ve experimented that much so I can give a proper answer, but I’m happy shooting with my Canon AE-1.
Most recent book you read and would definitely recommend
I just finished “Marcel Duchamp: Ingénieur du temps perdu”. It’s a series of interviews with Marcel Duchamp. I enjoyed it very much.
A ‘secret’ place in Porto everyone should go to (a café, bar, store …) Maybe a place that I love…the Botanical Garden.
Sundays are perfect for …watching movies.