Olavo Azevedo - Photographer of the week

The BW graphical and abstract works from Olavo Azevedo, a skilful Portuguese photographer, are characterized by their amazing mood. His use of light, shadows and contrasts put his personal style on each of his images. Enjoy his fabulous photographs and read more about this successful artist. Thanks to Yvette Depaepe for conducting the interview.


Briefly tell us about yourself, your hobbies and other jobs.
I was born in Portugal and live in a small village in the centre of the country along with my wife Alice. I have two daughters who are living elsewhere. I have a practice for general and family medicine in the town where I live. We live in a rural area in a house surrounded by trees, flowers and the chirping of birds and stunning scenery to surround it. Photography serves as an antidote and as an escape from the requirement of the profession, allowing an inner peace, which is sometimes shaken by the suffering of others.

Self-taught, I started photography in adolescence with a Kodak machine acquired second-hand from a friend. In those days I made few photos mostly of friends, family and landscape. After a few years I bought my first SRL, a Canon (AE1), which opened new horizons for me and I started to shoot with greater regularity. With these higher resolution photos there was also the need for learning so I started buying books and magazines for technical development. I have learned everything myself. At the time the Web was still very little known.

A friend introduced me to the digital camera. Perhaps the opportunity to immediately have access to what it registered, contributed to the "revolution" that would follow. I bought a Canon 350D, but that did not satisfy me at all, and when the full frame 5d was released, new horizons opened with this purchase. The consequent purchase of a 16-35mm zoom really showed me the beauty of the impact of lines and overwhelming vanishing points.

So my architecture and graphic images began to feel different and the natural evolution led to a refinement in observing, seeing and anticipating the end results.

How has your history and life experiences affected your photography?
At first sight there seems to be no direct link between the profession that I practice and the type of photography that usually interests me. However if we look more closely in on the matter we can see that the profession is essential attention and observation of details that consciously or unconsciously the patient gives us to reach the final diagnosis.

In the observation and processing of collected visual information lies the success of the final result either in one area or the other.

Which are your most important experiences that have influenced your art?
Voyages to large cities had a significant influence on the way I began to face and anticipate some of my work. The immensity of the buildings and the smallness of human being integrated in them, humanizing them, served as a motto. Lines, shapes, contrasts and light became important and opened new horizons for me and I applied these concepts in other areas.



What first attracted you to photography?
I learned that as long as there is light highlighting shapes and forms, we can create styles and visually attractive things. It was a period of research, observation and learning gathered through the study of other authors, whether through books, magazines and essentially the web, including the 1X webste.

This has led to other experiences, perhaps more abstract and carried out in a makeshift home studio. The use of objects of everyday life, such as balls, herbs, eggs ... contributed to create visually attractive things, different and aesthetically effective.

Clearly my initiation in 1X, after a long period of indecision and motivated by some disbelief in the appreciation of my work, overcome by the insistence of my friend Paulo Abrantes was the turning page in my photographic activities.

This step led me to try to improve and review previous concepts and to work on improving the quality. This rewarding experience culminated with the inclusion of two of my works in Yearbook 2014 Mono and Yearbook 2015 Memento.

Describe your overall photographic vision.
It is essentially a graphic photograph often minimalistic, in which shapes, tones, contrasts and light have a major role and their own aesthetic approach. I like to shoot with hard light to highlight the contrasts and visual impact of the scene.


Why are you so drawn by graphical and mood photography?
Although nothing in my academic training called me to the field of architecture, this is one of my favourite subjects, and especially modern architecture, with their bold lines, sometimes challenging balance and imagination. They become a source of inspiration and an irresistible visual appeal.

De-contextualization of the whole, transforming an obvious thing into a more abstract work, which is also graphically more attractive and interrogative, leads the mind to flow freely to lead to a better interpretation of things.

What is more important to you, the mood, /story behind your images or the technical perfection?
I've never done a technically perfect photograph. Even the great authors present work with technical lapses, sometimes unconsciously but sometimes consciously to achieve a particular purpose or convey a particular message. The message can still be clear!

What generally is your relationship to your subject matter beyond being an observer?
It is a relationship of love at first sight, almost impulsive, which will then mature. Initially I visualize 3/4 of my photos, sometimes with a smartphone, and then continue with a more careful and rigorous work in the form and content.

Do you prepare carefully the locations where you are intending to photograph?
Sometimes yes. I have already made some inroads and revisited places with a defined objective and with the idea of getting a result.

In the case of the two following pictures representing the same architectural structure contrasts and triangular geometries formed by the incidence of light through the building, both were made with views similar but occasions and different times of day, to obtain a different result, and they have been duly anticipated and visually depending on the desired results.


What gear do you use (camera, lenses, bag)?
Currently I use two cameras.

A Canon 5D Mk III, with lenses of L series: 16-35mm, f / 2.8; 24-70mm, f / 2.8; 70-200mm, f / 4; 50 mm f / 1.2; 100mm f / 2.8 macro, Lensbaby Velvet 56.

A Sony Alpha 7R II with a Sony lens 24-70mm f / 4; and a Zeiss Batis 18mm, f / 2.8

What software do you use to process your images?
CC Lightroom, Photoshop CC and rarely Silver Efex Pro2

Usually I use RAW files that are imported directly into Lightroom and I start to review the photos and eliminate those with a coarse technical error, such as accidentally blurred images and select those that may have potential for editing, assigning stars, flags. After assigning keywords as the place where the picture was taken, which is, dominant colours, awakened feelings ... I make some corrections including correction of the lens profile, white balance, exposure control, control of high and low lights, saturation and luminance of colours in order to preset to apply in B & W edition.

After finishing this work I go to Photoshop to do a more careful job with the selections of application layers, masks ...

What is your most important advice to a beginner in graphical and mood photography and how do you get started?
I can advice:

-      Look for parts that represent the whole! The whole often leads to disappointment.

-      Look for patterns, shadows, repetitive shapes, colour contrasts, etc.; Framing your images and give  
       attention to the edges and corners, and work it out.

-      Look for objects with potential, don’t look for great photographs.

-      Maintain a positive attitude! Open the mind to see something new and creative.

-      Explore! Move yourself. Get down, get up, look around, look inside, change your viewpoint, explore the
       scene from every angle, bend your knees. Put your camera down and explore the scene from that

-      Stop! When you have been around for a while and didn’t find anything interesting to photograph, stop.
       Go away and come back another day.

-      Dealing with disappointment! This is a very, very personal thing but think: in photography, like life, if
       you have a little rain, it’s good to appreciate the sunny days.

-      Learn from your experiences.



Who are your favourite photographers and more importantly, how has your appreciation of their work affected how you approach your own photography? 
I hone of my favourite photographers is a Frenchman, of Hungarian origin, Lucien Here, who gives a humanistic look at architecture. I was influenced by him and contacted him through Reponses Photo magazine. I also appreciate the Swiss photographer Hélène Binet, very graphic works on architecture, Michael Kenna for his minimalist works. In 1x I appreciate Paulo Abrantes, Laura Mexia, Luc Vangindertael, Henk van Maastricht, Jacqueline Hammer, Theo Luycx, Jef Van Den Houte.

Is there any specific photo taken by another photographer that has inspired you a big deal and why?
There is no specific photo that has inspired me, but the work as a whole of various artists whose photographic style fits in my photographic vision. It is the synthesis and analysis of works of the aforementioned authors, while others also have contributed to this.

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?
To improve at what I do with training, training, and training. Manage expectations and deal with disappointment, it will be a good basis for starting in the photographic evolution ... also because of 1X, because only 5% of the photographs proposed make it to your homepage!

Describe your favourite photograph taken by you and why it is special to you?
I consider the "Coffee Time" photo, published in 2015 in Memento 1x, one of my favourites.

One of the daily habits of the Portuguese is to have coffee after meals and when meeting and socializing with friends. This photo tells this story and shows us this healthy habit. Although there are no people visible, the ingredients in my view, are there: the cup, the table, the chair ... and it raises the question about why the cup is on the table.

It was also special because it was not a spontaneous photograph, as it was necessary to wait for the shadows of the umbrella tabs moving in the wind before getting the desired effect.

Is there anything else you wish to add and what do you think about 1X as a home base for your work?
1X has played an important role in my development as a photographer. It is a place where we can learn through observation of great talents who work with a formal quality and incredible aesthetic, and who are always a source of inspiration.



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