We met Miguel and his wife Gina at rangefinder forum meetings in Barcelona and Florence. Therefore when the opportunity to visit Portugal came up, I emailed Miguel. He promptly responded with a invitation to spend a few days with them in Santarém.
Miguel is a huge photography passionate and a true Nikon gear expert. He came to photography because his parents were operating a studio and lab business. Since early on, he helped with the developing as well as the shooting of some weddings and reportage until the age of 18 years. His career went on as a printer in a professional lab, yet he got out of photography at 26 and got involved in IT to make a living. He still shoots a lot (I have never seen such a huge archive on a computer), and so does Gina with her Bessa R2.
So he are a few questions to Miguel (illustrated by a few shots he took while we wandered together) :
I) I have notice you have a few dozens cameras, mostly Nikon. Talking about it, you mentioned to me that gear is very important in photography. Why is it so ?
Being an engineer, I am very interested in the technical part of cameras. The design of a camera, how it feels in your hand will influence how you feel and therefore how you take a picture. A well designed camera just helps me take better pictures. For example, the Nikon S brass is the camera I feel most in harmony with, I took my best pictures with it.
II) You mentioned to me that photography is not art, can you explain why ?
Photography is capturing what you see, not only what you are able to see, but sometimes even things that you cannot even see at that moment. Art precludes that you have a notion of composition, rules to follow and you create yourself something around your subject. As a photographer, I feel I am just documenting a given moment with no other aspirations.
III) You never delete a picture, bet it on your camera or on your computer, why is it so ?
I never ever delete a picture on my camera because it is not a good mean to review it. The street is also not the best place to take a decision on a shot’s worthiness or not. As for the computer, I keep all my shots as a record of the events I witnessed in my life. Morever, I don’t feel that I will improve as a photographer if I erase my failures. I need to be able to see again in the future, even the ones I might temporary forget. Finally, sometimes you even discover a good picture that you took in a different phase of your life, and you are glad you did not delete it.
IV) What do you enjoy in street photography ?
To document the way human beings interact with each other, their environment, and especially how it has changed over the last decades. As an example, metro shots from 20 years are very different since most people would be probably be reading newspapers. Nowadays, they are all looking at their mobile. In some ways, nothing has changed, they are all absorbed in their own world, but visually it did change a lot.
Thank you Miguel and thank you Gina for the four wonderful days with spent with you discovering central Portugal.