Paulgi is an outstanding artist from Portugal. He was published in magazines worldwide: “Photo”, “JPG Magazine” “Everywhere”. You can also find some of his work in Portuguese magazines. His pictures were exhibited in Portugal and also in other countries.
He released great photo book called Romeiros~Pilgrims few months ago. Be sure to check it out here.
1Q) Can you please tell us the story behind this portrait? How you took it and why you choose to shoot this person?
I first saw Sonia, the portrayed girl, working in a bar at a time when I was visiting my hometown. I loved the way she looked and asked her to work with me on some pictures. Since I was visiting my family, I had the chance to use a room at my grandmother's house to take some shots and I used some of her household items to place enough reading elements on the portrait.
2Q) What photography gear you used here and why? What is usually in your photo bag?
It was 2005 and I was leaving my old Canon EOS 10D behind for my first Canon EOS 5D. On my bag I usually have a Canon EOS 7 loaded with mostly Kodak Elite Chrome, and my actually inseparable Canon EOS 5D with a Canon EF 24mm f/1.4L lens.
3Q) What do you love most about shooting portraits?
I find it very rewarding to work with someone new. I especially enjoy the first moments of intimacy, when I'm looking for that sense of closeness needed to really get someone's portrait rather than worrying about the formal aspects of the picture. Most of the time it's hard to portray someone that you have just met, but when you manage to do that it's a leap in intimacy that you can feel when you return to give that person her/his printed portrait. It's extremely gratifying to feel that kind of magical power a still moment can still give you.
4Q) Do you consider yourself mostly as a “portrait” photographer?
I find it hard to consider myself as a specialist in specific field of photography. The truth is, I don't go out looking for portraits, I just go. But, now when I think about it, I always come back from my "walks" with a lot of portraits. I've been called "the portraitist" by a family that I have been photographing in the past few years, so maybe I am.
5Q) Do you work with available light or do you use additional lightning often?
In 2005, when I did this portrait, I used the light available in the room from a ceiling lamp and an additional 500W halogen lamp bounced off a towel. Since then, I gained a lot of confidence on my 5D's capture abilities and I believe that I have not used any additional light sources anywhere, in any condition, at least for the past 4 years.
6Q) What/Who are your photography muses and influences?
Mostly Diego Velasquez and Georges Seurat, I think. But there's also a lot of people close to me that have been highly helpful and even influential that you can find at http://blog.fotoalternativa.net/, it's a small community leaded by the amazing photographer Alberto Monteiro.
7Q) Any tip for taking better portraits?
That's hard to say, since there's no real formula for a good portrait. I can only say to take your time to breathe and don't rush, take your time watching everything, every single element in the frame, and less time shooting.
Thank you, Paulgi!