1. Are you from Portugal or some place else? I saw on your Twitter that you may have ties to Reykjavík. I have a small obsession with Iceland so that’s why I’m curious.
Twitter may be under the impression I'm from Reykjavík but that’s ok because I’m not very keen on social media :)...
I'm from Porto, Portugal. I've been living here for the last 20 years. I had my first camera in the 90s and for a long time I only took pictures of family & friends. That didn't change much when I switched to digital about 10 years ago, but by 2010 I decided to start a blog called porto street shooting.
I’ve been street shooting for the last four and a half years, a hobby turned crusade. I always shoot alone and most of my pictures are posed portraits. I choose people that I find interesting and I ask them for a pic. They usually say yes.
2. Your portraits of people seem to run the gamut of all walks of life. Have you observed any attribute or reaction or something, common to all your subjects? Something that makes us all not so different? Or in the alternative, anything in one of your subjects that was so far out of left field to leave to scratching your head to this day?
I try to make it kind of random and don’t focus on any particular type of person. I almost always ask people before taking the pictures, as I tend not to like that ‘scared deer’ look that you sometimes get in candid portraits. This gives me the opportunity, while trying to bring out the best for the portrait, to talk a bit with the subjects and to get some little stories or details.
Like the stories of Goa, the owner of the Mini-Titanic: his deployment to India; his jobs at a construction company in the Madeira Island and aboard a trawler to fish for cod on the Newfoundland Grand Banks; and the story about a loan he defaulted on.
Or the story of the departure of the Three Hombres, a 32 meter schooner that was moored here for a week or so a couple of years ago.
Or that time when someone made one certain “husband remark”; or when two Café Regulars completely lost track of the value of the euro; or a local grocer, talking about old times; or that other guy who asked if this was a gay blog, cause it was the second time I had asked him for a pic...
I've encountered some of the people I portrayed more than one time, and in some cases, I couldn't resist. It happened with the Sartorial Splendor, the Professional Demonstrator and the Pipe Collector, who taught me 5 things. It also happened with some card players and one or two cute girls.
And of course I couldn't forget to tell you about the cute girls and perfect faces, or eyebrows, or teeth. More on this later.
I find people from around here, or from away, straight or gay (or maybe only friends), white and black, sometimes complaining, other times not complaining at all (even after being submitted to a total thyroidectomy). Young and old people, with classic or modern looks, or even some sort of anime or film noir looks.
I find them dancing, sharing music, taking pictures and polaroids, taking selfies, texting, reading fiction and non-fiction, drawing, biking, skating, river diving, going to the gym, slacklining, playing cards, making dreadlocks, reading dirty magazines, going to birthday parties, catching buses, eating, drinking, smoking, relaxing, dating, kissing. Talking on the phone or waiting for the light to change to green. Doing inexplicable things, throwing street parties and cycle chic around town.
I find them having great holidays or just chilling or living the good life. Sometimes after a short night of sleep. Sometimes in a hurry. A few, enjoying the good kush. Walking the dog. Graffiting. Or just protesting against the government.
Others I find working and selling stuff and waiting tables and driving buses, or going somewhere. Working holidays, working sundays. Handing out flyers; entertaining tourists; dressing as clowns or as balloon twisters.
Did I already mention cute girls? Some of them blushed. Some gave me a serious look. Or a duck face. At first some simply wouldn’t want to pose. One called me for a poll, other tricked me into signing some papers. One showed off her cute lava bra. A dangerous brunette asked me if I had a lighter; a cute blonde saved me from being run over by a bus. And while another one just told me to shoot, shoot, shoot, this one asked me if I could at least photoshop her a little bit. Oh, and let’s not forget that particular fourth button.
And moms: lovely young moms but also tough, protective moms. And also three bachelorette parties and even one bride in sneakers. And couples; young and old couples. Some underage chicks, a cute little princess and one spiffy kid.
And old men, lots of old men. 99-year-old veterans. Retired postal workers, eight-ball players, shoe-shiners and their customers. The owner of a 1974 Mini. One heir. A possible scratch card winner. Even one old Republican. And I couldn’t leave out the guy from the 3rd Cavalry, 1957. Or the one who told me that for him life was over.
Also some quite interesting novices and their mistress. Some priests, one of which happened to be a professor of medieval studies. Lots of Seminarians. One Bishop. Even one bible study leader. And at least four LDS missionaries.
And Artists… one cute violinist, two bassoonists, one choralist, one pianist, several guitar players and one trumpet player… one principal double bass, one professor of violin, one bassist, one horn player and one conductor… a few painters and more than two dozen urban sketchers. Oh, and people making great pizza, grilling sardines and cooking outdoors and doing street BBQs, because that’s art too.
I even spotted an extra-long pinky nail. And turbans of all colors, black, red, violet, pink, blue, white and orange, not to mention saffron orange. And one or two ushankas, maybe three.
And frames. Lots of frames. I really love frames. And shoes. I also love shoes. Especially platform sandals and high heels. But I’m also into sneakers. And shorts. Mini shorts, micro shorts and short shorts. And bed-head locks, braces (ah, braces) and hats.
3. You’ve been taking photos of stranger in the streets of Porto for over 4 years . . . any advice or invaluable lesson you’ve learned in that time that you’d like to share?
Be polite and honest with your subjects, make eye contact but try not to look weird and remember to put yourself in the other person's shoes. Travel light - no backpack , no mega zoom, no flash -, only one camera and one lens and don't use telephoto lenses so you can get closer to people with something between 40 and 50 mm.