This an overdue post, as the year is already a few days old, but it’s still time to put my year of 2014 in perspective, something I already started in my social networks. It was a year with lots of decisions, related and not related to photography, but in the end the result of all those decisions means that now I’m much more driven than I started the year.
In many ways this was a year to focus on what my path should be and how I should work to be on it. Later in 2013, after returning from India, I decided to do more documentary, work on stories and even longer projects. More than a radical change of my style, this meant looking to photography as a whole, both in my work and the work of those I admire, to find what made sense for me. So a lot of what I did this year had that in mind, from how I planned my longer trips to getting the right tools and people to help me.
The content of this isn’t by all means a compilation of my best work, neither a comprehensive report of everything I’ve done, I chose to focus just on the highlights of what was relevant or decisive in my “photographic year”, the most important or relevant bits and pieces of my 2014.
By the way, I do know that most photos on this post feature people drinking or smoking.
Visual Storytelling Workshop in Paris with Ed Kashi
A firm decision on what the path should be also means that you need the right people to help you. I already knew about Eyes In Progress and Ed Kashi’s workshop from when I was randomly looking for workshops, as I became sure of what my goals were this looked a perfect way to help me get there. The year started with me sending my application, being accepted and flying to Paris in March, to photograph the workers at Pére Lachaise cemetery with the guidance of Ed Kashi’s and, in the end, getting a very pleasant review from Julian Dueñas, the editor of GEO Spain.
The return to Iceland
I had been wanting to back to Iceland ever since I left in 2008, actually I’m thinking in go back right now, which could happen in the next couple of years. Although for some time I was seduced with the beautiful light and impressive scenery I eventually realized that “my Iceland” was more about it’s scale, the emptiness and how the island’s environment affected those who lived there.
Right now much of my travel energy is directed to getting back to places I already had been, rather than removing other ones from my checklist. I knew I had to go back to Iceland, to the places that got stuck in my mind, but also find my way a region that I missed the first time and takes that “remoteness” to another level: the Westfjords.
One of my goals for this year was to work with closer subjects, but closer actually means several different things. Means more personal projects, or projects where I take advantage of family ties to rural Portugal, something that’s not really new to me, a couple of years ago I followed my own family during wine harvest. But also means subjects where I could explore different aspects of the Portuguese culture or where I could put geographic proximity to good use, not only in my own Portugal but also the surroundings at Spain or Morocco. While I was preparing my photo project of my Visual Storytelling workshop in Paris, a city with its huge Portuguese community, my initial idea for the was to do something related with it, a project that changed lots of times to return to its original form. And if some projects require planning others come out of nowhere, like when nature project to border region in Portugal transformed into a sort of road trip documentary.
Travel Photographer of the Year 2014
My end of year was very busy, and this was one of the reasons: reaching the final of 2014 edition of Travel Photographer of the Year. More than being happy for the final itself, what made me even happier was that I happened with a series a photos that represents the path I’ve been working the whole year. For me a clear sign I’m doing things the right way.
In a way São Tomé also fits as a project closer to myself, a former Portuguese colony that’s placed in the equator, a few hundred kilometers from the African coast. For a long time this archipelago wasn’t under my radar, but tales of people’s extreme friendliness, the desire to feel the tropics, the desire to see Africa with my eyes (specially after the aborted Mozambique trip) and something as unique as the “roças” (partially abandoned cocoa or coffee plantations throughout both islands of the archipelago) have quickly made it something I shouldn’t miss for nothing in this world. And being on a place so different from home, but yet so close really made a difference in my photos.