Art

Eyes the World Over. Carlos Esteves

The most important, result to accomplish is to enable the viewer to be there, to dream and wonder about it and to be able to feel the moment and emotions witnessed by the photographer.

Images by: Carlos Esteves - Interview by: Teo J. Babini
©Carlos Esteves

©Carlos Esteves

We all love to travel… And there is always some memory or interaction which captures the essence of a place in our mind… A bar we stumbled into or a smile gifted from a passer by. Carlos Esteves uses his camera to immortalize these moments on film, and share his own personal experience of the world, with the world.

©Carlos Esteves

©Carlos Esteves

As your bio mentions, travel photography occupies a lot of your portfolio. Do you shoot and travel mainly for pleasure or are you commissioned to do so?
So far all my journeys are the result of my pursuit to explore different places, to experience them, to live the adventure. Thus, I’ve been benefiting from total freedom to choose my own route and subjects. I can’t truly say the same about my pace, as time is a relentless scarce resource and I always wish I could have more time in each place. Being commissioned to tell a story from a certain angle about a place and to able to reach a broader audience would certainly be an interesting experience. Nonetheless, as I used to say, I naturally work as if I always had an editor waiting and pressuring me to deliver the next work because my commitment to capture a subject at its best and to exceed myself is always very high.

©Carlos Esteves

©Carlos Esteves

Your travel work seems somehow geographically divided with North America and Europe featuring mostly location shots, while Asia and South America tell the story of the places through the faces of the people. Can you tell us about this choice?
Yes, indeed. Several factors account for that. First, certain places tend to naturally favor one approach over the other, for instance, Icelandic people are for sure photogenic people I wish to portray, but when I think of Iceland my mind floats immediately to the myriad of unique landscapes, which hardly exist elsewhere in the world. So, as until now, I didn’t have the chance to make repeated travels to the same regions, I tend to concentrate on the primary things that attracted me to visit them in the first place. Complementing the previous factor, as I’m Portuguese, I tend to be more curious about different cultures from my own, where faces are remarkably different from the European ones. Interestingly, the same thing happens in the opposite direction, as local people often ask to take photos with me together with their family. The exception regarding portraits is that people in some cultures tend to be more receptive for being photographed than others. Overall I tend to explore different photographic subjects and try to balance my portfolio by choosing different regions in the world with some naturally stronger subjects in one area or another.

©Carlos Esteves

©Carlos Esteves

Most of your portraits don’t seem like stolen shots. How do you get people to pose for you? Have you encountered much resistance to the camera’s lens?
Of course not, for me that approach doesn’t make any sense, but I understand that many people are afraid to point their lenses at a complete stranger in the street in an unknown environment. I’m not immune to that either. The thing is, being somehow hidden and pointing a huge telephoto lens to someone, is never going to yield good results.
My approach varies depending on the circumstances, as it’s not the same to photograph in a bustling market or in a quieter street of a small village. Some shots are candid portraits where I try to anticipate a certain moment, others are more posed ones.
What the approach always has in common is the interaction with the person being portrayed, whether before or after the shot. The interaction can be shorter or longer and it can be verbal or sometimes non-verbal as language is often a potential barrier. But even when quick, I think the interaction adds to the moment, to the story being told and surely benefits the shot itself. In the end, it makes it more rewarding to me and to the other person if some kind of complicity is shared between us, where the shot happens as a natural way to remember that moment until the end of time.

©Carlos Esteves

©Carlos Esteves

When shooting abroad, what do you think is the most important element of capturing the essence of a place?
Well, this question is not easy to answer, as for sure several elements are important and contribute to capturing the essence and character of a place. I think in the end, one, if not, the most important, result to accomplish is to enable the viewer to be there, to dream and wonder about it and to be able to feel the moment and emotions witnessed by the photographer.

©Carlos Esteves

©Carlos Esteves

It’s interesting for me to see the perspective of a visitor in my hometown (NYC). Do you think that with all this experience you would capture more familiar territory in the same way?
That’s an interesting question, for sure the more you learn to observe, the more you’ll be able to critically analyze a scene and assess its potential and the higher will be your skill to make a meaningful and strong image. For me, being in a remote place for the first time is highly motivational and that makes me more aware, enhances my senses and for sure that contributes to my learning process. As a result, although I don’t photograph as often as I would like outside my journeys, I strongly benefit from the experience abroad.

©Carlos Esteves

©Carlos Esteves

From the perspective of a photographer, what is the most intriguing place you have visited?
I would say India, as it was more than a remarkable journey, an experience of a lifetime. It was my first time ever in Asia, so the experience was unbelievable. India is an intoxicating place, where all senses are activated to maximum levels, everything seems to invade you. From the spicy tastes and intense smells exhaling from every corner to the massive and disparate activity in every street or market, where you just have to go with the flow in order not to be overwhelmed by it. From the religious ceremonies to the chaotic traffic where everything with a wheel seems to move in an organic way around the holy cows. And, of course, most of all, I found the people truly amazing. Besides, the Indian people have a great relationship with the camera, with an ever present open smile in their curious and expressive eyes.

©Carlos Esteves

©Carlos Esteves

Where do you plan on shooting next?
Actually, as you may find hard to believe, my next journey is not yet planned, as lately I’ve been focused on processing my last year’s journeys. I hope to plan it soon, as I’m looking forward to another memorable adventure! For now, I can share with you, I’d love to travel to Norway as it’s an incredible country with an amazing coastline. Finally, I would like to thank you for this interview, it was a pleasure to talk with you while reflecting about my own passion.

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