April 16, 2021
Photography by André Lobão
Interview by Melanie Meggs
For those interested in social documentary and storytelling, André Lobão is a photographer worth taking note of. As an autodidact street photographer, André has used the camera as an instrument of self expression, offering up thoughtful reflections on the world around us. His interest in photography was ignited in 2019 when he first encountered the work and writings of Henri Cartier-Bresson. André quickly found himself captivated by Cartier-Bresson’s humanist vision and poetic geometry, leading him to delve further into the works of other old masters such as André Kertész and Robert Frank. Fueled by a deep appreciation of the power of the lens to capture moments and stories, André photographs with the intention of detaching himself from the objective reality of the world. He invites us to take a journey with him, engaging with his photographs to explore the world in a new light.
“I am originally from Portugal and I have been living and working in London since 2017. My first contact with photography started when I was 12 years old and my father gave me a Pentax film camera. As time passed, I pursued different fields of creativity while studying arts and architecture, and only rediscovered this passion three years ago when I bought, first, an instant film camera, and later, a mirrorless one.”
IN CONVERSATION WITH ANDRÉ LOBÃO
THE PICTORIAL LIST: André, where do you find your inspiration to photograph?
ANDRÉ LOBÃO: In philosophy and literature, mainly. Then in music and other forms of art. In reality, everything is connected and whatever makes me think, inspires me. It can be a dead poet’s book, a brand new song or a simple conversation between strangers I heard at the bus stop. The source doesn’t really matter, it’s what you do with your thoughts, I suppose.
TPL: What is it that you enjoy about street photography? Explain your technique? What do you want to express through your photography?
AL: I like the unpredictability, you never know what you are going to get. I also like the challenge of capturing unposed moments, the ability to blend into your environment while staying aware and curious.
I think the ultimate - and today’s most forgotten - goal of photography is a true form of humanism. If you look to the world and understand that we are all here together, then something meaningful can potentially emerge from inside you, no matter the type of work you are trying to create. You need to make it personal and it needs to be subjective, but the real value of your work will always be in someone else's emotional response.
I hope to include in my photographs that reaction, first, by using visual composition, to eliminate distractions, and, second, by implying more than the visible. I believe it is important to leave room in the frame for the viewer’s heart and imagination.
TPL: Do you have any favourite spots to go photographing? How has the pandemic affected you personally and your photography?
AL: No, I do not. I started photographing consistently in the beginning of the pandemic simply because before that I did not have a camera with full manual control. I made plans for seven trips abroad last year and only managed to do one of them. Like everyone else, I wanted to travel as much as possible and make great pictures.
With my photography, the pandemic situation was a complete U-turn and ended up pushing me into my immediate surroundings: first my city, then my neighbourhood and, lastly, my own house. It was a tough change of plans, but, eventually, it taught me that very often a good photograph is just around the corner.
TPL: Do you have any favourite artists and photographers?
AL: Between the classicism of Henri Cartier-Bresson, the poetic vision of ordinary life from André Kertész and the rawness and bold impulse of Robert Frank.
TPL: Does the equipment you use help you in achieving your vision in your photography? What camera do you use? Do you have a preferred lens/focal length?
AL: Not really. I see the camera as only a tool. Same way as I see a pencil. You can use it to write your grocery list or to write a poem.
I use a budget Olympus E-M10 Mark II with a 35mm full frame equivalent lens these days. However, most of the pictures here on display were made with a 28-84mm kit lens.
On a personal level, the pandemic showed me how important it is to create ways to truly reconnect with other human beings.
TPL: When you go out photographing, do you have a concept in mind of what you want to shoot, or do you let the images just "come to you", or is it both?
AL: It depends. If I am out for street shooting, I try to be like a sponge: I want to absorb the moments that catch my attention. If I am out shooting for a specific documentary or storytelling project, I am more intentional. Usually I draft a list of shots I need to get in order to complete the narrative. They are two completely different mindsets. One is mostly random, the other needs to be more rational.
TPL: Have you ever been involved in the creative world before photography?
AL: I have been a creative person since an early age. I wrote poetry, drew and played in some underground rock bands. All of those to different degrees of success. Photography is my newest (and hopefully last) creative endeavour.
TPL: What are some of your goals as an artist? Where do you see yourself or hope to see yourself in five years?
AL: The only possible goal is to aim to create meaningful work that resonates with people. I want to grow technically and conceptually in order to achieve it. I also hope to keep developing my own documentary projects and publish them in books.
TPL: Are there any special projects you are currently working on that you would like to let everyone know about?
AL: I am currently working on two long-term projects that are in different stages of development. One is conceptual, the other thematic. I am planning to share them, at the right time, in the future.
In the meantime, I have also self-published a book called “Oblivion/Revelations” that summarises the best work of my first year of street photography.
TPL: "When I am not out photographing, I (like to)…
AL: Live fulfilled."
Thank you. I would like to express my gratitude to The Pictorial List Team for this opportunity and for doing such an extraordinary work building up this community.
André Lobão is an incredibly talented and inspirational street photographer. His work and passion for the art of photography is evident in his own photographs, where he uses his lens to capture moments and stories, often in a unique and thoughtful way. André invites us to take a journey with him, engaging with his photographs to explore the world in a new light - one that exists beyond the objective reality around us. With that in mind, we should all take the time to appreciate André's work and gain an insight into the impact of photography on our lives.