*A Shooter Files interview series featuring photographers from around the world, with a focus on capturing Street Photography in their own cities
The Shooter :
Rui Palha is an internationally acclaimed photographer based in Lisbon, Portugal. He was also recently named one of the 20 most influential Street Photographers of 2015 by StreetHunters.net.
To Rui Palha, photography is life. He is extremely passionate about capturing life and devotes much of his time to doing so.
Rui likes to work in black and white to capture everyday life in a way that brings out its beauty, feeling and energy. He looks to keep the human element at the center of his work, while finding ways to connect emotion, drama, juxtaposition, action and moments to the scene. Rui puts himself into what he captures to help the viewer feel what he feels when making his photos.
I’m very excited that Rui agreed to be interviewed and featured, along with his city and photos, for this installment of “A Shooter in…” interview series.
And now for the interview…
(All photos were made in Lisbon, Portugal by Rui Palha)
1. Can you tell me a bit about how you got into Photography, and more specifically, Street Photography?
First of all, I need to “say” that I am not so good at expressing my feelings, nor my thoughts, through words. I prefer trying to do that through images, but I will try to put in words what you want to know about me.
Photography is a hobby since 14 years of age. I had my own darkroom, but to be honest, I only liked, since I was a kid, to “press the button” in the streets.
I always felt amazed, hypnotized even, with the movement of people, with their expressions, their reactions…
I felt it was a fantastic challenge trying to capture all the bustle of everyday life and a way to learn a lot about the surrounding world. In my photographic world all people are unique and the most important part of my photographs.
Street photography is not an easy way to make photography… we have to be brave, astute. We must have the capacity to anticipate the moment before it happens.
This sentence defines my way to be in photography:
“Photography is a very important part of my space… it is to discover, it
is to capture giving flow to what the heart feels and sees in a certain
moment, it is being in the street, trying, knowing, learning and,
essentially, practicing the freedom of being, of living, of thinking…”
2. How would you describe your style/interests when it comes to photography?
I think it was described in the point above.
3. How long have you lived in Lisbon, Portugal?
59 years living in Lisbon, “my” town.
The City :
4. From a Street Photographer’s perspective, what are the first words that come to your mind when thinking of Lisbon?
5. What do you like most about shooting photography in Lisbon? Is there anything unique about Lisbon for photographing?
I think I would photograph the way I do in any place all over the world. If there are people I would do the same photography I do in Lisbon. What is important is the existence of people, and that exists all around the world.
6. How would you say people’s reactions are to being photographed in Lisbon compared to other places?
It depends, always, on the way you are. The reaction depends on the guy with the camera, the contact he can establish with the people in general. It’s necessary to respect, to listen, to be confident sometimes. It is a kind of chemical relationship that is established between both, the person with the camera and the person photographed.
7. Can you give a snapshot of a typical day for you shooting photography in Lisbon? Has anything interesting happened to you while shooting Street Photography there?
Usually I walk on foot about 10, 15 to 20 kms a day… walking, talking with anonymous people, photographing what I can and what I feel.
Sometimes it’s easy, others it isn’t.
Many times I repeat the route; it is always different in spite of being the same… the people are always changing, as well as the situations.
Usually, I always carry a camera with me. No matter where I go. If I have to go to the hospital, the camera goes with me. To make street photography people must be in the streets lots of time, walk a lot. It’s the only way I know to make something interesting, because the opportunities only exist if you are in the streets.
Lots of interesting things happened to me, of course. To meet unknown People, listen to their stories of life is a way to learn, everyday, about life, and this is always interesting for me.
FAVORITES IN THE CITY:
8. What are a few of your favorite streets and spots for shooting photography in
Old town, indeed and Gare do Oriente and Parque das Nações, in the “new” town.
9. What are some of your favorite subjects to shoot in Lisbon? Do you have a favorite photo, or one that stands out in your memory, that you made in Lisbon?
The subject is always the same: People.
Besides that, so many subjects… the moment itself, it’s the most important, I think, the magic of lighting, a framing that pushes my eye, a scene I construct inside my head, the graphism that people build while moving…
I am always looking for THE moment, I feel I’ve never captured it, and I will look for it forever.
But… all my street photographs are important for me because they always have a human story behind them.
10. What are your favorite non-photography activities when out shooting in Lisbon?
Make love, not war. :-)
It is impossible to dissociate photography from my non-photography activities, because now I am completely retired of my main job, Data processing adviser of main frames computer technology. So I have some social projects I am involved in where I do and practice social service, but never dissociated of Photography.
Photography is life for me. Without it, I would die.
11. Outside of Portugal, what has been one of your favorite places to shoot Street Photography?
Paris (France), Macau (China) and Chefchouen (Morocco).
12. Last, but not least, what Tips would you give a Street Photographer coming to shoot in Lisbon?
Some tips I read somewhere, but with which I agree and are not only to photography in Lisbon, but everywhere:
Get close to the subject, make them the primary object in your frame.
Street photography is all about observing people, their actions and juxtapositions. Keep your eyes open, look for interesting connections.
You’re more likely to get a memorable photograph when you’re part of the scene and reacting to the emotions and drama that is being acted out around you.
Be casual about the camera and keep it away from your face as far as possible. Try to avoid looking like a “photographer.” As a side effect, trying to hide your camera and sneaking a photograph in when possible may make you look suspicious. Like I said, be casual about the camera
Don’t take too much equipment and travel light. It’ll make you less obtrusive and you will be able to move around for the best shot quickly
Anticipate moments between people before they happen.
Have your camera out and ready to shoot at all times. Things can move quickly on the street, so if you’re not ready you’ll miss lots of opportunities.
- Love People
- Respect People
- Have always the ability to listen to people, they are true lessons of life.
- Try to understand people, their thoughts, their movement, their feelings, their soul
- Be brave and courageous
- Try to be as close as possible to the People you photograph. This way you will know and feel their soul and vice-versa.
A big thank you to Rui for sharing his work, answers and city!
For everyone who would like to see more of Rui’s work, just follow the link below…
The Link :