Street Photographer uCapture Series

Before becoming a street photographer in London, photography has always been a subject that interested me. I always grew up with photography very present. When I was young I used to grab dad’s camera and take photos from ordinary moments around the house or around our neighbourhood. In my family albums, you can find photos from myself and my sister at home doing random things, like for example, playing, acting, dressing up. Basically, enjoying this powerful, artist tool we had at our disposal. In my family, photography has always been an important object to preserve – always family photos, but important none the less.

However, life didn’t lead me though photography but music. I grew up in Portugal and since I was young that I had a “natural” talent to music. I learned to play drums, then saxophone and then piano.

I went to a music university where I completed an undergraduate and a masters in composition. Then, I moved to London to make a Doctoral research also in composition. During all this period I had photography always present, shooting with my phone, or visiting museums, photography exhibitions, installations or even as an inspiration for the music I was writing, but never had photography as present as now.

Everything started during first lockdown. I needed something to help me to go out and make the effort to just go out, cycle or walking around London. I was very depressed and stuck at home, couldn’t be bothered to make the effort to exercise or just go out enjoy fresh air. One day, still during first lockdown, everything that I just told you before came to my mind, and all the memories about photography were very present. So, I decided to buy a camera and start this photography journey. In May 2020, I bought the Sony a7 iii with the kit lens 28-70mm f/3.5-5.6.

Photography in general, and particularly street photography, was always very present in my life but there was a gap between family photos and the photography I used to get inspired as a creator. Thinking about the sources of inspirations for street photography, I realised that most of it comes from the same photographers all the time. First of all photographer called William Eggleston: I discovered his work in Tate modern in London and I’ve been following his photography since then; Daidō Moriyama, although I don’t see the way I photograph very connected to his, he was, and still is, very influential in my passion for street photography.

As a millennial, I also get inspired by some videos of POV street photography in YouTube. On the one hand, photographers like Roman Fox, Jonny Keeley and Sean Tucker are constantly a source of inspirations and I found myself constantly following their tips, advices and methods. On the other hand, even though in a different context, I also get inspired in landscape photography: photographers like for example Thomas Heaton or Andy Mumford are a source of inspiration, in terms of composition, colour and way of thinking.

Last but not least, I also get inspired by the selection of photography that Sony and Fujifilm have in their website; and I have a section in my Apple News that is just for photography magazines.

Because I have a strong connection with Madeira Island, Lisbon and London, these places have become the main stages in which I have explored their streets, colours, people and buildings. London, because is were I’m based now, was the first place to be explored as a photographer. One of the first places I walked was around the Swiss Cottage area in north-west London. It’s a residential area where it’s possible to find some nice churches and old cars.

1st street photography walk. Swiss Cottage, 31st May 2020. Sony & kit lens 28-70mm f/3.6-5.6. [ISO 500 | f/7.1 | 1/1250s | 28mm]

For my second street photography shooting around London, I cycled from home to China Town and walked from there until Covent Garden. I started to feel more like a street photographer so I started to risk more in the shootings I was doing, as for example, pointing the camera to people without thinking if that was a good or a bad thing.

In looking for inspirations online, I found some photographers doing the same type of image, where the photographer succeed to catch the moment of someone cycling but the background had some movement on it. In China Town, I wanted to catch this moment. In one of the roads, maybe Gerard St, I waited for someone to pass by with a bike so I could go home with this shot in my camera.

 2nd street photography walk. China Town, 6th June 2020. Sony & kit lens 28-70mm f/3.5-5.6. [ISO 640 | f/8 | 1/100s | 28mm]

In Covent Garden, I enjoyed the openness of the place, the elegance of it and the people surrounding it. It was also the first time I photographed a moment to be presented in black and white.

2nd street photography walk. Covent Garden, 6th June 2020. Sony & kit lens 28-70mm f/3.5-5.6. [ISO 800 | f/8 | 1/500s | 40mm]

My walks in London continued during and after lockdown. I walked in City of London, Camden Town, Central London, along the Thames river, Saint Katharine’s Docks, London Bridge, Tower Bridge, Marylebone, Barbican and many other places. London has a magic mood for street photography. The colours, the people and the way compositions emerge make street photography one of the most enjoyable things to do around the city.

London street photography. City of London, 10th June 2020. Sony & kit lens 28-70mm f/3.5-5.6 [ISO 2000 | f/8 | 1/500s | 37mm]
London street photography. City of London, 10th June 2020. Sony & kit lens 28-70mm f/3.5-5.6. [ISO 10000 | f/8 | 1/1000s | 59mm]
London street photography. Camden, 18th June 2020. Sony & kit lens 28-70mm f/3.5-5.6. [ISO 160 | f/8 | 1/500s | 55mm]

But, as I said before, London is not the only place I have taken my camera out for street photography. Madeira Island, the place where I grew up and where most of my family are, was also a place to use my new camera. By this time, before my journey to Madeira, I invested in a new lens: Sony 50mm f/1.8.

Madeira Island street photography. Funchal, 21st August 2020. Sony a7iii & Sony 50mm f/1.8. [ISO 125 | f/1.8 | 1/1250s]

Funchal, is the London of Madeira Island. Is basically where everything happens: restaurants, five stars hotels, bars, cafes, shops, shopping centres, jobs and also is where the majority of the population of Madeira is concentrated. For street photography, Madeira is very pretty, but the weather is constantly warm and sunny so the light becomes very difficult to control, specially because in my first photos I noticed the over-exposition of nearly all my photos. However, I succeeded to have some good shots.

Madeira Island street photography. Funchal, 21st August 2020. Sony a7iii & Sony 50mm f/1.8. [ISO 125 | f/1.8 | 1/1250s]

Ponta do Sol, is a small village in the south west coast of Madeira Island. There is a small area, near the sea, where you can find a yellow and picturesque bridge, followed by a not too long stairs that connects the village with the ocean. During summer, is very common to find young divers that enjoy the bridge as a natural diving spot. When I visited Ponta do Sol going to the beach wasn’t allowed, so I found a calm composition, a strong connection between the man-built bridges and stairs with the calm ocean as a background.

Madeira Island street photography. Ponta do Sol, 21st July 2020. Sony a7iii & Sony 50mm f/1.8. [N/A]
Madeira Island street photography. Ponta do Sol, 21st July 2020. Sony a7iii & Sony 50mm f/1.8. [N/A]

Lisbon is another place in which I spent a considerable amount of my time, when studying composition in the university. Now, when I return for holidays – with my camera – I enjoy walking around the city, photographing the different colours and the unorganised architecture that is so characteristic in the city. Lisbon, equally as Madeira Island, is a very bright place to photograph, when the sun is in its high level of incidence, taking photos can be problematic, specially when trying to adjust the exposure. Oriente, Bairro Alto, Baixa Chiado, Rossio, Alfama and Belem are just my favourite places to visit and to photograph. Specially Oriente, Alfama and Belem because you can always use the Tejo river as a background, so you can mixture the orange and yellow colours of the architecture with the blue tones of the river.

Lisbon street photography. Oriente, 18th December 2020. Sony a7iii & Sony 135mm f/1.8 GM [ISO 100 | 1/4000s]
Lisbon street photography. Baixa Chiado, 18th December 2020. Sony a7iii & Sony 135mm f/1.8 GM [ISO 100 | 1/2500s]

Street photography has became a huge part of my life. It was part when I was younger and in my development as a musician and as a composer. But now, in a more direct way, is part of me, part of my days. My camera is now one of my favourite gadgets and the idea of demonstrating to people what in a normal basis they wouldn’t noticed, is something that fascinates me.

Photography is also a way of noticing, realising, walking with open eyes. Is a way of making the journey as important as the final arrival place.

Lisbon street photography. Oriente, 14th January 2021. Sony a7iii & Sony 135mm f/1.8 GM [ISO 100 | 1/1600s]

In a personal note of acknowledgement, I would like to thank streetphotographycolor who invited me to write this article about what inspires me, and about the places I believe are important to my development as a photographer.

Funchal, 1st February 2021