Street photography and moody graphical compositions are the trademark of Fernando Alves. He quotes: “Passion moves me. I always try to capture situations, emotions, and immortalizing moments out of the ordinary. It’s in the eyes, just the eyes, I hear more. The eyes usually do not deny what feels the heart.”
Briefly tell us about yourself, your hobbies and other jobs, Fernando.
I was born in 1957, in Lisbon, the city I live in. I am married and father of a young boy. I work in the tourism business, specifically in graphic arts, advertising and marketing, as an independent businessman. Previously I was a partner in a firm in the same business field.
My hobbies are literature, music and my most fascinating one, Photography, in which I invest most of my free time.
How has your history and life experiences affected your photography?
Ever since my earliest youth, I was in love with photography and became fascinated by the capture of ephemeral and unusual moments. That passion grew as I got older and it has remained so for the rest of my life.
About ten years ago I started visiting websites on Photography and that's when I got inspired to shooting in black and white.
Which are your most important experiences that have influenced your art?
I am moved by the pulse of the city life and by people passing on the street - that results in new experiences that influence my way of shooting. Most of the times, instead of my eyes, I use my feelings and let passion do the job. Feeling the moment is always a very rewarding experience.
What first attracted you to photography?
I am attracted by people's experiences, by their facial expressions, by unusual moments and by knowledge.
Describe your overall photographic vision.
I consider myself as a photographer of emotions, and I like passing unnoticed among people and feel free to shoot them.
Why are you so drawn by Street and mood photography?
I likely do some graphic photos due to my professional background, though it's not my favourite type. Sometimes I seize the moment and might use graphic lines that interact with the space on the scene.
As to humour and states of mind, oh I love a good laugh and to joke around. Life has multiple aspects that need to be captured, and street Photography is far beyond begging people on the street. Sometimes streets offer you moments of fun and laugh waiting for you to shoot them...
What is more important to you, the mood, /story behind your images or the technical perfection?
No doubt I choose photo contents. I am happy every time my photos make people feel awake, raising good or bad feelings inside them - the important thing is that an unusual photo has just moved them, that's what really matters.
Technical perfection comes next, it is secondary.
Every street photographer knows that most of the times he has no time to frame a scene. We never know what we will get in the next moment: a motion photo or strong-light or low-light conditions, a close or a longer distance shooting, etc.
The most difficult job is capturing the perfect moment, or the microsecond lasting scene, since everything happens very quickly and we've just got to be prepared for the unexpected.
What generally is your relationship to your subject matter beyond being an observer?
I rarely contact people I shoot, but whenever it happens, I don't mind the occasion. We can always learn from people we shoot, and that's an effective gain for every photographer.
Having our roots in the places we shoot and knowing those places very well are major factors that provide us with a deeper understanding of our work and our environment.
I observe more than I communicate: my eyes never stop when I walk on the street, as they are the first triggers for the shooting.
Do you prepare carefully the locations where you are intending to photograph?
I never prepared a scene for a shoot. My photos are intrinsically reactive, so they could never be combined or decided in advance. Street captures are unique ephemeral moments. Therefore, shooting is a rapid-trigger action with no kind of preparation most of the times. That's the way I like shooting, and that's the most prominent feature of my photos. I also like the light-shadow effects and try to use them in the same plan of the scene.
What gear do you use (camera, lenses, bag)?
I use a Canon 7D and an old Canon 400D. As to lenses, I use several types of Sigma: 18-200mm; 10-20mm; 24-70mm; 50mm; 70-300mm.
My bag is a Lowepro.
What software do you use to process your images?
I use Adobe Photoshop CS6, Nik Software and Topaz. As I prefer pure photos, I don't use much image processing on them - this way I avoid misrepresentations of the scenes.
Can you tell us something more about your workflow?
My professional activity doesn't allow me to shoot as much as I would like to. So I use my spare time for photography, especially on the weekends and every time I am invited to shoot in-group by my friends.
What is your most important advice to a beginner in graphical and mood photography and how do you get started?
My most important advice to a street photography beginner is: " keep your eyes wide open and shoot what your heart tells you to. Shoot a lot and don't care about making mistakes. Use spontaneity while shooting, because if you don't seize the moment in the fraction of a second, you loose it for good."
Who are your favourite photographers and more importantly, how has your appreciation of their work affected how you approach your own photography?
I have many favourite photographers, both Portuguese and foreign. I prefer street photographers who shoot in black and white. I would not mention their names because it's a long list and I don't want to take the risk of missing any of them.
Is there any specific photo taken by another photographer that has inspired you a big deal and why?
I think we are all inspired by some photographers’ works or at least by some general traits of their photos. I also believe we are all stimulated by the world around us. There's nothing like finding our own way of working, because that's the way we can evolve and lead our senses to higher levels.
Are there any specific directions that you would like to take your photography in the future or any specific goals that you wish to achieve?
I'm a simple guy and my photography goals are kept that way. For me it's not wise to establish high targets we might never achieve. However, if by any kind of magic my photos get any success in the future, that would make me feel so very happy...
I'll keep on doing what I've always done so far, and that is: walking freely throughout my city, with my heart and eyes inside the camera, searching for the unexpected moment.
Describe your favourite photograph taken by you and why it is special to you?
Several photos have an important meaning for me, since I started shooting.
However, I recall this special one, a shot in a solemn moment - a procession. There was this man with an expression on his face as if he was talking to an angel. I'll never forget that moment. It is not even a high quality photo. I was in the middle of a large crowd and shot it in motion.
Is there anything else you wish to add and what do you think about 1X as a home base for your work?
I will always be inspired by moments that mix with my emotions and my heart, and this is how I understand photography.
Regarding 1X, it is the best photography website to promote my work to the world. I deeply appreciate the quality of its members and the chance of learning from others, not only amateurs but also world-renowned professionals.
I also want to point out the excellent idea of including tutorials in the platform, as they are important tools to improve our knowledge on photography and image edition.
And last, I want to express my greatest appreciation and consideration to all members of 1X team and my very special thanks to my friend, Yvette Depaepe.
My best wishes to all.
Long live Photography!