Interview of Photographer Felipe Abreu from Brazil

In the beginning of 2014, Felipe Abreu launched his first photobook called são.  são captures and discusses the dialogue and relationship of people with their surroundings in downtown São Paulo. In são, the inhabitants appear lost amidst chaos of a metropolis. Felipe contrasts this distinction by way of using dyptichs in his images. There are tall urban structures and faceless human beings in são, all sharing an equal space. The cold concrete is warmed by breath and blood of human activity.

Since then Felipe has moved on. His perspective has become wider. He has left the hustle-bustle of city far behind to look for our relationship with nature. He’s in the company of wilderness and tranquillity where stones and sand testify the silent transformation. Despite the deep human desire to suppress nature, she still endures and prevails in some places, some wild and extensive areas. She is still a force to be reckoned with.

felipe_abreu_photography (1)Cherish the visual transformations of Felipe’s latest project ‘Mountains Inside Us’ while he tells us a lot about his photography and other things in interview below:

Hello Felipe! Please tell us about yourself:

I’m from Brazil, I’m 26 years old and I’m currently in Barcelona, studying photography. I’ve been working with photography over the last 7 years and I’ve presented my work in the Americas, Europe and Africa. I’m also the editor of OLD Magazine, a monthly online publication about photography.

I really enjoy discussing photography, so get in touch if you want to talk a bit! (:

felipe_abreu_photography (2)How did your become a photographer?

My dad is a photographer and my mom loves photography as well, so I’ve always been surrounded by images. I started taking things more seriously when I was doing my undergrad in cinema, in the University of São Paulo. I spent many hours in the black and white lab of the school. That was around 2010, so I was the only one there! haha

After that, the production and research on photography has been one of my main focus in life. I really don’t know if I’m a photographer, but photography is one of the great loves in my life.

felipe_abreu_photography (3)What is your artist statement as a photographer?

I really love finding new things. I like to explore and to register what I find in that journey and it motivates me. Over the last few years I’ve been focusing in the traces and marks left behind by mankind. I feel that through them I can tell complex stories about how we relate to a specific space. I’m currently registering what the Brazilian curator Eder Chiodetto named as sculptural and performatic events. It that sense I like to reorganize what I find in my journeys in the form of sculptures or performances, deeply rooted in the space they are being held.

I’m also interested in working with collage and memory in photography.

I believe that every artist should know the message he or she wants to convey through his production. That is essential in any form of art, otherwise it turns up empty.

felipe_abreu_photography (4)You’ve been taking very different kind of images. What is there that you like shooting most?

I’m really interested in anything related to the photographic image used to tell a story or to convey an emotion. I mostly do straight photography, but I enjoy working with vernacular imagery, collage and appropriation as well. More than the technique, I’m concerned with the narrative that is being presented to me.

Tell us about your method of shooting. Is that meticulous or spontaneous?

I usually work on projects, so when I’m shooting a specific thing I’m focused on that. I also like to work on delimited areas. I believe that helps in the construction of my narratives. Apart from that, I usually roam about, looking for the things that interest me. I’ve photographed downtown São Paulo, the countryside of the São Paulo state, the west coast of the USA and now I’m starting to work on something that’s going to bring together Los Angeles, São Paulo and Barcelona.

felipe_abreu_photography (5)What is your favorite piece of equipment and what is your workflow like?

I mostly shoot with a film Hasselblad. I enjoy the slow workflow, having time to think about what I’m doing and having a larger gap between shooting and actually seeing the image. The square format is something that also interests me a lot. I feel it’s a more formal way to compose, so I can’t be sloppy about it. I think any tool that helps you create your aesthetic and improve your narrative is more than valid. That goes for digital manipulation and anything else!

What is the most distinct and challenging aspects of your photography?

The most distinct and challenging… This is the hard one! hehe

I really aspire to show the complex relation between man and space in my photography. I believe we leave traces of ourselves anywhere we go and those traces add up to a larger story. I’d love to transmit that to the people that get in touch with my photography. I’d say one of the main challenges on my mind these days is building narratives with this formal approach, that is not causal or time related.

felipe_abreu_photography (6)What do you think about contemporary photography?

This is very broad because we have hundreds of different definitions to what is contemporary photography and art, but I’ll say this: we live in great times. We never photographed so much, we never discussed photography in such a deep and rich matter and our medium has never been so vast and fruitful as I feel it is now.

Tell us about your achievements, awards, your book and next projects:

I’ve published a zine called “são”, it works as a folding poster. I published it in the beginning of 2014 and it was a great starting experience in the area.

Apart from that my work has been published in sites and magazines in Brazil, US and Europe over the last 3 years.

I’ve also exhibited my work in several festivals in Brazil.

felipe_abreu_photography (7)I’m starting to work on a new project and I’m finishing up ‘Mountains Inside Us’, that you can see with this interview. I should have more news about them in the first semester of 2016.

I’m really focusing in the production of photobooks and in the study of the construction of narratives in photography. Those two things, that are deeply related, are occupying a lot of my time these days.

Tell us about your favorite stuff: photographers, quotes, etc:

I usually visit Conscientious Photography, American Suburb X, the Photographic Museum of Humanity blog, Entretempos, a great Brazilian blog, and several other online sources. Every time I can I visit museums and galleries, dedicated to photography or not, and I’m always researching everything I can about photography.

felipe_abreu_photography (8)I’m not really a quote kind of guy, but I’ll leave this one:

‘Your’ pictures are everywhere. Learn to work with them before you pick your camera back up. The world is your archive. Go edit it.

This is from Doug Rickard’s text about editing for the Photographer’s Playbook, a great book from Aperture.

Please say a few words of inspiration to our readers:

Study a lot, shoot when you feel it’s right. Don’t waste your images, but don’t be stingy about them as well. A beautiful image is nice, but a well told story is what we all should strive for.

felipe_abreu_photography (9)felipe_abreu_photography (10)felipe_abreu_photography (11)felipe_abreu_photography (13)felipe_abreu_photography (14)All photos © Felipe Abreu : Website | Facebook | Instagram

About Nishant Mishra

Nishant studied art history and literature at the university during 1990s. He works as a translator in New Delhi, India and likes to read about arts, photography, films, life-lessons and Zen.

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