ART: JoLaVal Captures Signature ‘Moments’ Around the Globe
ARTISTICALLY SPEAKING: Q&A WITH JOAO LAMANCHA VALENTE (LISBON, PORTUGAL)
An initial glance at Joao Lamancha Valente’s photos of elephants and rhinos in the wild fascinated me when I came across his Flickr galleries recently. But, firsthand accounts leading up to those once-in-a-lifetime moments prove to be priceless. What’s even more interesting is how a childhood passion and hobby has evolved for Valente who lives in Lisbon, Portugal. “My photos are a collection of circumstances and not the result of study and effective planning. My photos are, in most cases, occasion photographs from leisure and business travels,” Valente explains. Find out more about the path JoLaVal (Flickr moniker) is currently on as a photographer in the following interview with Tania Fuentez Media, and get inspired.
NOTE: All photos courtesy of Joao Lamancha Valente (© All Rights Reserved)
TFM: How would you describe your philosophy on photography and how it has evolved in the last 2-3 years?
JoLaVal: My passion for the art of photography dates back to my teenage years. I started doing some photographs with minimal knowledge about photographic techniques. However, I realized early that I had a passion for photography and I was very eager to develop this passion. It was then that I began to acquire books on photography and I became a self-taught man. As a result of taking the initiative to learn more about this art I have photos available in my Flickr gallery and soon to be on my Web page. My photos are a collection of circumstances and not the result of study and effective planning. My photos are, in most cases, occasion photographs from leisure and business travels. Many of them are not professional in that they have not been taken in the right time and place. The so-called “golden hour” does not always present itself for me … My photos are the result of events that present themselves and lately I have felt the desire to change this approach and try to capture pictures about some realities of everyday life.
What I intend to convey to readers is that in recent years I have felt the urge to do what I have always wanted to do with regards to interventional photography, photography that in some way can change something or someone. It is in this level that I am investing my time and energy presently. The “Picture Stories,” photojournalism, documentary photography and conceptual photography along with the study of the human figure are currently what interest and fascinate me.
TFM: Is there anything new you’d like to shoot or posing an aesthetic challenge lately? What steps are you taking to reach those goals?
JoLaVal: As I said earlier, what fascinates me lately are the “Picture Stories.” Arthur Omar and James Nachtwey are contemporary references to me in the world of photography. Of course, the photographers like Ansel Adams, Cornell and Robert Capa, Cartier-Bresson, Edward Weston, Stephen Shore, David Prakel and Roland Barthes are some of my Masters. As this is a hobby for me, presently I cannot devote as much time as I would like to my passion for photography. I will realize my dream full-time when I retire and travel the world capturing with pictures people and locations. At the present, I am directing my studies in photography to the human body and I will soon have my own photographic studio.
TFM: Where do you find inspiration?
JoLaVal: My inspiration at the moment comes from a lot of reference works of the above mentioned great photographers. In addition to these, I found others on Flickr and Getty Images. However, it is the “MOMENT” that captures my imagination and gives me inspiration. I always try to shoot what I see creatively and that is not always an easy task … !!
TFM: You capture amazing moments in the wild (elephants, rhinos, etc.). Describe your most thrilling moment and the shot that got away.
JoLaVal: I do have a love for wildlife and everything that is related to Africa. For me, Africa is synonymous of mystery, adventure, peace and well-being. This may seem like a contradiction but is how I feel about Africa. The light, the color and smell of the land in Africa is unmistakable. The wild side of Africa fascinates me in the enormous opportunities it gives us to photograph wild animals and, most importantly, the opportunity to be selected to change the daily lives of these people through our images. The most hilarious moments I experienced while photographing in the jungle were two and I will describe for you below:
Would be four in the morning, our driver stopped the motor of the vehicle and asked for silence. Behold emerged an enormous white rhino to cross the sting a few yards from our car. The thrill of seeing the fierce animal so close and the thrill of not wanting to miss the perfect timing for the photo raised a tremendous level of adrenaline.
Another occasion, coated with fear (I confess) but also fascination, was when we were forced to wait some 55 minutes for a huge elephant, with ears in motion back and forth. He decided to leave the road, and go on following his path. The fear was that the animal, that showed signs of anger, would become really enraged and start charging against our car. The photo shows the huge scale of the animal (see the size of the vehicle that in bad time came crossing the path of the elephant).
TFM: What is your preferred choice of subject, landscapes, portraits, macro photography and why? How do you distinguish yourself from hundreds of photographers now flooding the field?
JoLaVal: It is very likely that people who visit my Flickr gallery get a wrong idea about me and how I see the art of shooting. As I mentioned earlier, my photos up to the present time are possible not planned. My great ambition is to one day be able to have a photographic history that can change, I will not say the world, because that would be totally Utopian, but be able to denounce certain injustices and at least change the lives of some of my “models.” I hope to be able, in the space of three to five years, devote myself exclusively to photography, be able to travel around the world and create the pictures I always dreamed of. These photos will be very certainly about people, animals, landscapes and resources threatened by technological evolution. I aspire to have a “history” published in a prestigious journal that “moves” people and their feelings to make a change of attitude on the subject photographed. Have an award-winning photo published in the World Press Photo would be my apogee. I acknowledge that the path is very difficult and that competition is huge but, the bigger the challenge, the greater the pleasure in case of victory.
World Press Photo: http://www.worldpressphoto.org/