Pedro Matos – Featured IPA member
Born in Aveiro, Portugal, in 1970. He has been working, since always, in the area of communication, both in marketing and communication and in editorial projects of information. Besides being an essential tool in all his works, photography is also a great passion. Pedro Matos considers himself an humanist-photographer and an eternal lover of the great diversity of human culture.
Documenting the human condition
People. I like documenting the human condition; its culture and traditions, the different ways of facing the daily routine and how it reacts to the everyday events, to the challenges and adversities of life. Although we all belong to an increasingly globalized planet, more equal and standardized, there are yet some places and small corners in the world which take us back to what is really important: to the essence of things and where the relationships are sincere and truly pure and honest. Those places and those attractions have been fascinating me since always. They might not be distant or exotic places; they just have to be authentic, with genuine, sincere and, above all, warm-hearted people. Photography allows me to portray our world and, mainly, the relations among people who interact with it. It is curious how some of the places we go through, mark us in a very particular way. Africa is one of those places. My first trip to Mozambique snatched my senses. It has been almost 20 years ago. I went back there a few times, many times to the same places, many of them are almost primitive. Then Angola, which I visited dozens of times for over more than 10 years. I learnt to understand and respect other ways of thinking, other ways of relationships and other ways of facing the world. Through photography I could register those differences, those other views of a same world, which is equal to all of us, but it is often known in a distorted and manipulated manner. Where many people see poverty and misery, others can see solidarity, disinterested friendship and sharing. Where many people claim fundamentalist and intolerance, when we experience reality in a very close way, we realize this is not but tradition and ancestral cultural manifestations, many of which have been losing during the years in our western civilization. Photography allows me to rebuild this reality, even when I am no longer physically present in those places. I love it!
Morocco is one of those places. More recently, integrated in an editorial project, I have known Cape Verde, a very rich cultural country, which due to its archipelagic condition, most of its islands have been keeping faithful to the secular traditions of its people. Here, I have been able to attend to the inevitable cultural dissolution in favor of the so-called “human globalization” which makes many of the old values and traditions to be lost in the new generations.
I have been trying to register them, either by words and pictures, so that it will not sink into oblivion of the newest generations.
The fact I believe that many of the stories, which I document will not be hopelessly forgotten, give me some encouragement to keep going and register them.
Besides this more documentary side, I have, lately, felt curiosity about street photography. It might be a certain character with an uncommon feature or a more unusual situation in the environment where certain action might occur. In street photography, I am attracted by situations, which create some emotional confrontation. It is something I start to explore now and it is giving me some pleasure in its discovery.
For my personal projects, I elect, nearly always, the black- and- white photo. It enables a higher abstraction regarding excess and eliminates the accessory. In addition, the message is much more direct.
I consider myself an amateur photographer because despite using photography in many of my works, I do not live from the pictures I take. I have a design and communication company which supports me financially. My passion for photography allows me to keep doing this kind of pictures which I love so much. I would like to dedicate much more of my time to this hobby but my work at the company does not permit it. Maybe later. Who knows?!
It is the way we look and relate the elements we want to report that produces the message we want to transmit. The camera is just the tool to report that same message. The kind of equipment, the brand or the way the image is recorded – negatives or digital- are, in my point of view, of minor importance. The important is that the recorded images are able to convey to others the message we want to pass. For many years, I photographed on film (negatives). Despite being a fantastic way to record images, I do not miss it. I think the digital has facilitated the entire photographic process and we can be more productive.
For those who are more interested in technical issues, I always used the SLR equipment but with the appearance of digital photo, I use the DSLR, nearly almost, Canon brand.
Lately, I have been taking my photos almost exclusively with Leica cameras because, besides the quality they offer, they are less intrusive and they go easily unnoticed, allowing me to record authentic moments. For me, that is important. I usually use two lenses: one of 35mm and another of 50mm.
Some of my photographic references and raw models which are my inspiration to my work are from master Sebastião Salgado, whose work I consider extraordinary and unique; my fellow-countryman, Alfredo Cunha who, as a photojournalist, has documented all the major social transformations in Portugal over the last 40 years, Jan Grarup and his humanitarian photos taken in war zones and Joel Meyrenowitz with his singular street photo approach. There are other unquestionable photographers whose works end up always by inspiring us all, such as Vladimir Milivojevich, Jeff Mermelstein or the, unavoidable, Bruce Gilden.