Interview with Documentary photographer Paulo Monteiro

Interview with Documentary photographer Paulo Monteiro


Paulo Monteiro was born in 1963, in São Miguel, Azores, where he currently live and work. He’s a self taught photographer.

He has developed long term projects about various subjects, such as popular religiosity, profane festivities, architecture, landscape, Nature, or the world of work. He’s very focused about documenting the Azorean culture. His work has been displayed in the Azores and abroad.

He has won some prizes and honorable mentions in Portugal and abroad. He has published in Magazine Artes, Réponses Photo, F-Stop Magazine, Don`t Take Pictures, Dodho Magazine. R.Nott Magazine, Azorean Spirit, Don’t Take Pictures, The Fix, and Visura Spotlight.

His book Açores Profundos/Profound Azores, published in 2007 by Edições Caixotim, portraits the genuineness of the Azorean culture.

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Paulo Monteiro

– How and when did you become interested in photography?

During my childhood, I took some photos on my father`s instamatic camera, and I became interested in photography. When I was 23, I bought my first SLR, in order to take better photos.

– Is there any artist/photographer who inspired your art?

My inspiration sources are the work of Henri Cartier-Bresson, William Eugene Smith, Sebastião Salgado and Cristina García Rodero.

– Why do you work in black and white rather than colour?

When I am taking photos, I can not remember color exists.

– How much preparation do you put into taking a photograph/series of photographs?

All my photos are taken on 35 mm film cameras. My favorite films are Ilford HP5+ and Kodak Tri-X. Since 2010, I usually work with two Leica bodies: an R5 and an R6, fitted with a Summilux 50 mm and an Elmarit 35 mm.

I develop myself the negatives and I make the prints. I use raw chemicals in order to prepare the developers. This gives me a full control on all the process. I think I`ll never move to digital.

– Where is your photography going? What projects would you like to accomplish?

As an Azorean and a photographer, it seems important to document the Azorean culture, before it is tainted by globalization, mass tourism, or power-seeking politicians who often appropriate popular culture, as a way to get the support of the people.

In addition, the economic and financial crisis affecting the world, and particularly Portugal, begins to have consequences in the realization of these festivities. There are worrying signs of the decline of a culture that, if not documented in time, will disappear without leaving any traces.

Started in 1998, for me the series “Profound Azores” will always be an ongoing project. It portraits all that it is real and authentic in the culture of the archipelago of the Azores, because these black and white Azores that over the centuries have existed as a soap bubble are about to burst and disappear. While this small community insists on retaining its cultural identity, I will be here to document a combination of information and aesthetics, photography and anthropology.

Website: paulomonteiro.jimdo.com

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Paulo Monteiro

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Paulo Monteiro

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Paulo Monteiro

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Paulo Monteiro

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Paulo Monteiro

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Paulo Monteiro

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Paulo Monteiro

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Paulo Monteiro

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Paulo Monteiro

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Paulo Monteiro


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