IN CONVERSATION WITH ANDRES GONZÁLEZ
Brazilian born photographer Andres Gonzalez began his photography journey back in 1975. Inspired mostly by his father who developed his own photos in their family home in Brazil and who had bought him his first 35mm Zeiss camera. Having the luck of being able to travel throughout his life, Andres brings to life through his photographs, his personal vision of the places, situations and people that he meets.
Tell us a bit about yourself. How did you become interested in photography? What was that moment that sparked your interest for street photography?
I was born in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil and currently I live in Porto, Portugal.
My father bears the responsibility for my interest in photography. On a trip to Germany with him he then bought a complete lab equipment for developing his pictures and also a brand new camera Zeiss Ikon Contaflex with a full set of lenses and etc. I was only 10 years at that time but I can say this was the spark.
Where do you find inspiration? Do you have any favourite artists/photographers?
I have had the luck to travel a lot throughout my life, either for work or leisure and for that reason I can say this was a main source for inspiration be it in street photography or landscapes.
As you can tell by now I started in film and made the transition to digital along the way. I do have special interest in the works of Fred Herzog, Irving Penn, Edward Hopper (not a photographer but a great source of inspiration on treating light), Saul Leiter, David Alan Harvey, Steve McCurry, Henri Cartier-Bresson, Sebastião Salgado and most recently Vivian Maier.
What do you want to express through your photography? What are some of the elements you always try to include in your photographs?
I shoot mainly in color and recently found special interest in shadow and color grading (trying to learn it with Joanna Kustra). In my pictures I can say I often try to include an element of surprise to catch the attention of the viewer, it can be a look on a portrait or a moment being decisive by movement, instant or composition.
Where is your most favourite place to go photograph?
That is a hard question...I think Cuba is a wonderland for street photography. I was lucky to go there and have taken this chance to make a coffee table photo book out of it. New York is also special with so many chances to picture the diversity you can only find there. China is also great and one can still say that it is a surprising scenery, especially for westerners. As for landscapes, I would recommend the Alentejo in Portugal, a place I have been a couple times recently and will be back for sure in the future. Not to forget Porto, the best city in Portugal.
What happens when you go out with your camera? What is your process? Do people respond positively to you, or do you sometimes get negative reactions? If yes, how do you handle it?
I always try to plan before going out to shoot, it helps me to "focus" my attention and as a side effect carry less weight. People usually respond positively but of course this varies a lot depending on where you are going. People tend to have different emotions when having their image captured, and that is quite much related to their cultural background I believe. I vigorously recommend to know and understand the legal aspects and cultural restraints of the region or place you are going to shoot. Being polite is a must when facing a negative reaction and, remembering to always respect the ultimate right people have to their own image.
When you take pictures, do you usually 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?
I think that planning is very important in any situation so it is always good in my opinion to have a "view" of what your intentions are before you go out to shoot.
If you are well prepared you can deal better with an opportunity that might come to you, especially in street photography.
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?)
I have been a Nikon shooter for some years now and have a good set of their equipment with lenses for each situation and project.
For street photography I can say the best lenses are the 35 or 30 mm, 1.4 prime from Sigma (APSC wise on a D500).
What are some of your goals as an artist? Where do you hope to see yourself in five years?
My goal is to keep learning new things and ways to bring to life in a photo my personal vision of the places, situations and people I meet. I hope I can see myself in the next 5 years like it was before the pandemic - just shooting out there with not so many restrictions to social contact, after all 2 metres is ok for shooting but a hug is good too once in a while.
Are there any special projects you are currently working on that you would like to let everyone know about?
I am working on a photo book about the Alentejo in Portugal picturing locations in different seasons of the year. Have done only winter and late summer so far...
“When I am not out photographing, I (like to)…
...I like to listen to music, do some gardening (lockdown recent interest ...) and drink Portuguese wines. They are sooo good!