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stefanferreira

Interview with Stefan Ferreira

Interviews

23 September 2014

Posted by Sally Hart

Hi Stefan! Tell us about yourself in two sentences - who are you?

I’m a man who discovered photography many years ago as a schoolboy in South Africa, where I developed a love for making pictures that moved with me when I came to London 15 years ago. There have been times when working to pay the rent has kept me away from photography, but these days I have a good balance - picking up some professional assignments (often via my digital consulting work) whilst finding plenty of time to wander around London taking street photos or covering the occasional news event or protest march.

QWhat's the weirdest situation you've found yourself in while taking a photograph?

AThis happened one night on the Northern Line. I was taking lots of candids on the Tube with my iPhone at the time and I had just upgraded to a new phone so I was eager to use it. I spotted this great portrait opportunity - a guy sitting across the aisle from me -and I made a quick snap. The problem was that the new phone came with built-in flash and it was set to“auto” - but I didn’t know that. So I took the picture and the flash went off right in his face. I was mortified. He looked straight at me, his expression full of attitude, and I braced myself for a nasty confrontation. But he didn’t say anything. He shifted in his seat instead, tilted his knees to one side, straightened his back and started posing like a rather camp model! So I obliged, and we spent exactly one stop doing an impromptu portrait session before he got up and left without saying a word.

QWhat do you shoot on? What's your favourite set up?

AA Nikon D800 with the 24-70mm f/2.8 lens for events, photojournalism & other commercial work, and the 50mm f/1.4 for portraits and street photos. I find the small 50mm lens perfect for street photography because it’s not so in-your-face, and the large aperture with the D800’s excellent high ISO performance means you can be quick & sharp even in London’s frequently gloomy light. I’d say my favourite set-up is no set-up at all. I like off-the-cuff, reportage work and I often take that approach even when people ask me to do a “formal” portrait.

QWhat's your number one tip for an aspiring photographer?

AA few tips if that’s ok? 1. Invest in the best lens you can possibly afford, but other than that don't be obsessed with gear and gadgets. 2. Always get as close to your subject as possible. 3. Go find inspiration outside the predictable confines of Instagram, Flickr, 500px and those HDR (urgh) obsessed camera gear magazines. 4. Finally, buy a cheap film camera and learn how to make images the slow way, taken without the certainty of a digital camera's preview screen, and developed with sweat and tears in the darkroom. It will transform your eye, your technique and your style.

'My favourite shot is Xanh for a couple of reasons. First because she got me featured on the Rough Guides website which I am very, very excited about. I love the immediacy and t... Read more

'My favourite shot is Xanh for a couple of reasons. First because she got me featured on the Rough Guides website which I am very, very excited about. I love the immediacy and the revealing nature of street photography, but my current obsession is with scenes that have that immediacy while at the same time being aesthetically pleasing - and I feel that this picture represents both those themes.' Read less

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Stefan Ferreira

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'Often the best street shots happen because you’ve picked a backdrop with good potential, and then you spend time waiting for a character or scene to complete it. Not this one t... Read more

'Often the best street shots happen because you’ve picked a backdrop with good potential, and then you spend time waiting for a character or scene to complete it. Not this one though - it was a pure stroke of luck. I was playing tour guide, taking my family for a stroll along the South Bank and it just came out of nowhere. The guy in the picture intrigues me because I can’t quite figure him out. Is he the man who does a boring office job but finds ways to enjoy his life regardless? Or is he Mr Jaded - desperate to escape his dreary existence & experience pleasure?' Read less

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Stefan Ferreira

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'The juxtaposition of people and posters or street art is a bit of a theme for me, although I need to be careful not to overdo it. This one was irresistible though - the perfect... Read more

'The juxtaposition of people and posters or street art is a bit of a theme for me, although I need to be careful not to overdo it. This one was irresistible though - the perfect inversion of colours, the near identical facial expressions, the mirrored poses and the fact that they even look alike! It’s surprises like this one that make me love street photography' Read less

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Stefan Ferreira

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'Taken at Trinity College, Cambridge whose famous mathematical son is Isaac Newton. There is a mathematical precision and pleasing geometry here, alongside the obvious sense of ... Read more

'Taken at Trinity College, Cambridge whose famous mathematical son is Isaac Newton. There is a mathematical precision and pleasing geometry here, alongside the obvious sense of tradition. It brings back memories of long afternoons spent wondering around that beautiful, ancient town when I was lucky enough to be a student there for a year.' Read less

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Stefan Ferreira

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'This is an old one, snapped on colour film. It was at the end of a long, hot afternoon spent walking around beautiful Lisbon. I remember fearing that the day’s bounty was going... Read more

'This is an old one, snapped on colour film. It was at the end of a long, hot afternoon spent walking around beautiful Lisbon. I remember fearing that the day’s bounty was going to be a bit predictable - ancient architecture and cobblestoned streets kind of stuff. And it turned out to be true but for this one image which just makes me happy every time I look at it.' Read less

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Stefan Ferreira

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'Barcelona is one of my top 5 cities to visit, and probably the best place for street photography (well, apart from New York maybe). It has great light, photogenic characters an... Read more

'Barcelona is one of my top 5 cities to visit, and probably the best place for street photography (well, apart from New York maybe). It has great light, photogenic characters and a bustling street scene around the old town that you can just sink into. This old guy was taking a break from the bustle, resting in a side street just off La Ramblas, quietly smoking his cigarette. I call him El Amante - The Lover - because I feel like he’s sitting there in the street where he once met his long-lost love, hoping that she might again appear from the shadows.' Read less

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Stefan Ferreira

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'If you’re looking for Italian clichés, you’ll find them here in the Langhe region in the form of beautiful food, rolling hills covered in vineyards and ancient hilltop villages... Read more

'If you’re looking for Italian clichés, you’ll find them here in the Langhe region in the form of beautiful food, rolling hills covered in vineyards and ancient hilltop villages full of stylishly cantankerous 80-somethings. I think the reason Italians get away with flaunting their clichés is that they do it confidently and unapologetically - they don’t hold back, not in general and definitely not in this picture!' Read less

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Stefan Ferreira

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'It feels like there isn’t a major empire or civilisation that Malta hasn’t been part of - Greek, Roman, Arab, Norman, British … they’ve all left their mark across this tiny isl... Read more

'It feels like there isn’t a major empire or civilisation that Malta hasn’t been part of - Greek, Roman, Arab, Norman, British … they’ve all left their mark across this tiny island and also here the capital, Valetta. It’s an interesting place to visit for a weekend and a fantastic location for street photography and portraits, even if the atmosphere is tainted by a peculiar strain of crass commercialism and some freaky twists of pop culture. Do you enjoy doing your Christmas shopping in streets echoing with the 100 Greatest XMas Panpipe Hits? Then hurry over. Are you a closet Euro Disney fan? Then come right in. This beautiful world heritage site turned slightly odd retirement village won’t disappoint you.' Read less

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Stefan Ferreira

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'Everyone told me I was lucky when I visited Hong Kong, because it was smog free for the entire three weeks of my visit, so I got to see the amazing views from Kowloon and Victo... Read more

'Everyone told me I was lucky when I visited Hong Kong, because it was smog free for the entire three weeks of my visit, so I got to see the amazing views from Kowloon and Victoria peak in crisp focus. But my favourite thing about the city was to get lost in the maze; to be overwhelmed by the energy, the noise and the smell of the place with millions of others - all dwarfed by the buildings and drowned out by the sound of thousands of little red taxis zipping around the streets like blood cells carrying oxygen. It was quite an introduction to Asia and I loved it, but I also felt that there was a different kind of smog present: of long working hours, dense living conditions, unquestioned consumerism and a faceless, manic race for more. The more time I spent there, the more I felt its presence, and this photo of a poster on the MTR (metro) captures that particular sense of enslavement and claustrophobia.' Read less

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Stefan Ferreira

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