Interview: Luis Ferraz

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For more works of Luis Ferraz; visit his website.

After you graduated on Audiovisual, you started your photography life as an intern for a ballet-theatre company. How was that first experience in this job? Can you tell us more?
Well, actually I believe that was one of the most important things that happened in my work life. I just had finished the graduation and Ballet teatro opened a photography intern opportunity. Fortunately, I had the luck of being the chosen one and that I believe made all the difference because I really never had the time to think “what can I do now; after school is finished?”. The theatre being an unfamiliar place for me to be, quickly began being one of the places I would like more to be in. Photographing stage plays and dance performances are quite difficult, because the light is made for the eye not for the camera and often I had difficulties on taking photos that I liked. With the time that gave me the resilience and the ability to overcome that difficulties. Seeing and understand what a difference a light makes on a subject and in which way it can modify the entire mood of that performance or play was enlightening. The team was great and it was a marvelous place for exploring technics and styles. Né Barros and Isabel Barros (choreographers and founders of Ballet teatro) were important people in my career for the freedom that they always gave me while I was there. So, I remember that with joy as a safe and warm place to be and grow. After the intern, I still made some theatre photography for plays such as Estrangeiros and Praça directed by Né Barros. Na minha parede escarlate retratos from Isabel Barros and also SUL, from PontoTeatro company staged by Emanuel de Sousa. Now I feel nostalgic about those times and really would like in the future to have a new project in theatre again. Who knows?!

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Now, are you more into food & drinks, portrait photography? Which one do you feel most comfortable with?
I believe that photographers are comfortable on things and subjects that they work for a long time. You cannot be comfortable with your first editorial portrait or even the first dish of food you photograph. I´d never had an experience on that and my portfolio was also not about that at the time. I believe that was something that grew on me over the time with the need and pressure to make it happen. Obviously, it´s not the same thing to direct a person that probably don’t know you and sometimes you have 10 minutes to make the most of it. On the other side, you got food. You can mess around with food and drinks, take the time you want (well, sometimes) and repeat if needed. Not all the times also. So today I think I will always be more comfortable photographing food but not uncomfortable at all photographing people, because often I need to do both in a commissioned work.

You work not just only on one field, but multiple… Do you feel like that you have to balance all of these things or just let it flow?
Short after the theatre intern was finished I was invited to be part of Time Out Porto staff as a photographer (once again I had the luck of not having time to think what should I do next). The magazine was fresh new in town and I was about to enter a new world and be a part of the first new issue of the magazine. I had to be able to do a lot of different shoots during issues. That I believe was the main reason today you can find multiple fields in my work. On the other hand, I am sure that they subsist as a whole and often I can find myself using same ways of work that I used for different fields of work. I always believe that you cannot do everything right. Then you need to be specialized in one or two fields of photography for the work to be consistent. Ironically I found my consistence doing the opposite. Today I just let things flow, honestly. Try to understand what the client or editor needs and then just do the best I can with my photography.

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Your photos are so vivid, bright and sharp. Do you think that your style of photography talk a special language? If so, what does it tell?
I guess that´s something only people who sees it feels it. I believe that over the time I´ve been creating something that most of the times I really enjoy watching it. Over the time that kind of language is created sometimes without you even notice. The best way of having a language in your work is first of all doing a lot. Photographing a lot. Not abstract and random things all the time but the same things a lot of times. Letting the time pass and discover new and fresh ways of photographing something. To find your way or language also you have to spend a lot, I mean, a LOT of time seeing other photographers in the area. See what they do. Discover which ones can resemble your work. Follow them and then when you go to a photo session, unconsciously you are putting in practice all the things that were kept inside your creative mind. When I started photographing food, there was not the amount of information you have now. Also, was not “so cool” as it seams now for the general public. And its crazy, it took only 5/6 years for most people to have the desire to photograph food. To see food as a remarkable moment to capture and post on their social media. I believe the way we perceive the world changes over the time as our work language also does.

As a person who moved to Lisbon from another city of Portugal, how is the life in Lisbon? Can you describe it? Is Lisbon the heart of different sectors in Portugal?
Before I moved to Lisbon from Póvoa de Varzim, my hometown I lived one year and half in Germany, between Stuttgart and Munich. That was something that I was not expecting but love happens sometimes and I moved there. Despite the fact that was a great experience in my life, in all aspects and I was able to understand that at that time and till now, I wanted to be in Portugal. With my arrival from Germany I didn’t want to return to my former life and I had to move again. Lisbon was the only move I had. It´s the capital of a small country, so its centralized in most of the areas. I already liked Lisbon before I moved here. The fact that once I was out of the country made the adaptation very easy. I had a good first year with a lot of new clients and projects and till now is being a good experience. Lisbon is a beautiful, historical, warm and sunny city and has all the ingredients I want for my career and life for now. It´s easier but also demanding to work in Lisbon. And of course, I don’t have to be missing eating Portuguese food all the time and make the easy-going life that the Portuguese do. We are the coolest people on the planet! (laugh)

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What is the story behind this photo above?
I was on assignment in 2012 for Time Out Porto magazine near the location. Between the spots I had to be at the time, I saw a dark smoke cloud going into the ocean horizon. I decided to follow the smoke back and found myself with this scenario. At that time the awesome cruise terminal in Leixões port was not built and there I think was some kind of gas silos. One of them went on fire during a work of dismantling. Explosions were heard and one person died. When I arrived to the beach some surfers were getting quickly out of the water and I made a little series of photographs. This one was my favorite.

Do you plan to go somewhere for a photo shoot for further days?
Yes, this next couple of weeks I will be working on a new project. It’s a food project commissioned by a new home delivering online platform in Lisbon. We are still working on finding good locations and props for the session and still trying to find a language with the head of culinary for the photographs to work inside the new website. I really enjoy doing commercial work, because its not like editorial. It has to sell and be fast, so it’s a good work pressure for me. I found myself alert with the pressure.

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