“I am and I will be an eternal apprentice…every day I learn something new in the streets, with people, with life…”
Rui Palha was born in Lisbon, Portugal in 1953 and has been a photographer since the age of 14. Following are interview excerpts of Rui’s thoughts on photography.
What photography means to me
“First of all, I need to “say” that I am not so good expressing my feelings nor my thoughts through words. I prefer to do that through images, but I will try to put in words what you want to know about me. Photography is a hobby since the 14 years of age. I had my own darkroom, but to be honest, I only liked, since I was a kid, to “press the button” in the streets. I felt always amazed, hypnotized even, with the movement of people, with their expressions, their reactions… I felt it was a fantastic challenge trying to capture all the bustle of everyday life and a way to learn a lot about the surrounding world. In my photographic world all people are unique and the most important part of my photographs. This sentence defines my way to be in photography: “Photography is a very important part of my space… it is to discover, it is to capture giving flow to what the heart feels and sees in a certain moment, it is being in the street, trying, knowing, learning and, essentially, practicing the freedom of being, of living, of thinking…”
Why I am a photographer
“I try to be a story teller using images, telling to the others what I “see” everyday during my “street walks”. My photographic “world” is in Lisbon, 90% of my photos are made in my own town, where the anonymous people are the main actors of my photographs. I try to gain an insight into their feelings, thoughts with the help of their gestures, motions… I always try to show, among the real life scenes of the everyday life, the beauty that always exists inside the unknown People, my “street models”, the beauty of the human race independently of the color, the religion and the politics. As you know I am an amateur and I will have this status until the end of my life. It’s the only way to do what I want and not what the others want I do. Everybody has to be (and feel) free to create, to reflect what is inside themselves.”
Tools of the Trade
“I use several types of equipment, depending on what I want to produce as a final result and the places I go. I always carry in my pocket a point and shoot camera for “forbidden places” like underground, big shopping centers and “problematic places”. Lately I am using a Leica Dlux 4 (with a 24-60 lenses) With SLR/DSLR cameras I only use a 20, 35 and a 50mm lenses. Sometimes, a very few times, with my Nikon D700 I use a Nikon 14-24 f/2.8 zoom. I agree completely and I try to follow the quote of Robert Capa: “If your pictures aren’t good enough, you aren’t close enough.”