Interview with Duarte Amaral Netto
Currently living in: Lisbon
– What is your favorite camera? Why?
I don’t feel I have a favorite camera. I use the cameras as a way to achieve a certain result. Sometimes I feel it´s more determinant the lenses and film than the camera itself. But in the end it comes to a choice of the only two I have, a Linhof Technika 4×5 and a Mamiya 7, both with some lenses. I also have a small digital point and shoot camera and a Polaroid 355. In fact, this is probably the camera I would favorite right now, because it’s the one I’m using the most for the last three years.
– What got you into photography? Were you already into arts as a child?
I allways felt the urge to express something, but I never saw myself very much into arts as a kid. Maybe that had to do with some aspects of my education and the school I went that never promoted much that kind of formation.
By the age of 14, music became very important in my life and a few years after, by 16/17 the same happened with cinema and literature, and this was my awakening to arts. I think I got into photography very naturally: I couldn’t play any instrument (but I tried), my father was a keen amateur that still had some pieces of an old darkroom and a camera that he borrowed me, and my girlfriend at that time (1994/95) was at a photography course that I joined later. I changed from the Law degree to the Cultural Communication at the same university and at the same time, during the mornings, I was doing the photography course. Gradually I became more involved trough the four years course and decided that this was what I had to do.
– In your 1999 – (on going) series, there are a lot of emotions being show. What would you say the reoccurring element in the series is?
Every image has it’s own direction and I wouldn’t call this group of images a series because they are thought independetly and don’t exactly relate to each other in a sequential logic. Of course, there is a sense of unity among them and the aproach of many is similar. Maybe most of them have to do with a mental state where the key character perceives or acknowledges something. This is just a generalization, I rather think of them as singular ideas that relate with each other in a subliminal way.
– Most of the photos are taken inside homes. Whose homes are these?
They’re from family, friends and rented places. I have a preference for the private and domestic.
– Are these scenes ever staged?
All of them are, in the sense that you have to direct the characters, usually friends or family, sometimes myself, and ask to hold still for the exposure. So there is always this awereness of the camera, wich means the reactions and attitudes differ from their natural state, and the person being photographed is representing something other than herself.
All of the images result of a previous study of the place and persons to use, so besides directing I also add and take some elements out of the frame to compose. They’re staged to achieve the experience or idea before the image, but the intention is that they don’t look overly theatrical.
– Does living in Portugal affect your style of photography?
It does affect the person I am now, as it would affect if I lived in a different place, culture or environment.
Essentially it does affect the settings and persons I use, but the style would be the same here or elsewhere.
– Favorite place to hang out at in Lisbon?
That would have to be Bica and Cais do Sodré at night, and the gardens (Estrela and Necessidades) near my house during the day. But everytime I can I escape to Sintra and the Praia Grande area, wich is only 30 minutes away from Lisbon.
– If you could go anywhere to take photos, where would it be?
I allways had a fascination with Portugal’s antipodes, so it probably would be Australia and particulary New Zealand. But for my work I’m fine where I am.