i shoot strangers in the streets of porto, portugal
My name is Ricardo Porto and I shoot strangers in the streets of Porto, Portugal. I’ve been doing it for the last 5 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.
I have one camera, one fixed lens, two batteries, one gray card and one lenspen and this is the only gear I use. No backpack, no photo bag, no tripod, no flash, no mega-zoom.
I usually walk the same city areas, mainly downtown, but as I like it to be kind of random, I never prepare my photowalk in advance.
I publish daily on my blog and all portraits are captioned with the street address where the picture took place and a brief description of what caught my attention.
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.
Camera: for about 4 and a half years I used a Panasonic GF2 + 20 mm f 1.7 lens. She was getting a little bit old but I got attached to her and couldn't end the relationship, even if having secret thoughts about other cameras.
Then one day she suddenly died in my hands and I bought a Pana GX7.
Settings: aperture priority, usually at f2.2-2.8 (depending of the number of subjects in the pic), custom WB (around 5000 - 5500 K) and ISO 200.
Post: I use lightroom just to give a bit contrast (+10), clarity(+20), less highlights (-30), adjust WB if needed and resize (720 short edge).
porto street shooting