Things usually don’t happen according to plan
For a long time I thought about creating a series of blog posts to document my crazy ride becoming a photographer. Of course I never did that. One of the reasons is that I don’t have that much time; another one is that English is my second language and I’m not the best writer; and another one is because I struggle with talking about myself (which is something I am definitely changing, it’s time for me to own it, I do ok I know that).
So now here I am, playing catch up.
This is the first post of a series of “god or someone better knows how many” where I try to show how I became a photographer and eventually keep track of changes as they happen.
Full disclosure: this first post will be boring, full of text and not exactly filled with pretty pictures. I’ll be talking about little things from my past that I believe led me to where I am now. Then, hopefully, I’ll have shorter posts about specific events I believe to be important and maybe one day I’ll catch up to where I am now and things will be written as I go.
Also, keep in mind the photos you’ll see in this post are not incredible – at least not to me anymore -, but they all mean something to me. You’ll see photos of my wife, my late grandfather, and some members of my family that yes, are still alive, but 14,000km away. So remember I am opening up showing you the worst of the worst photos I have ever taken, but no matter how bad they are, technically, they are still important to me.
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Where am I at the moment?
Just to provide some context, here’s where I am right now: I am a full time photographer, struggling like most artists, but at the same time in a better position than most photographers I know, as I can say I am a full time photographer and I don’t have any other sources of income. I shoot for a major talent agency in Queensland, have private clients for model portfolios, actors headshots, business headshots, a magazine I shoot commissioned covers for and ONE (yes, one) brand I started shooting ecommerce for.
Other than play with my dog and fix stuff around the house, that’s all I do.
If you have time to spare or are interested in becoming a photographer, get ready for lots of boring stories about my life as I’ll try to have EVERYTHING that I believe led to the point I decided to really start building my portfolio and actually learning how to shoot, in this single post.
Ps: also, finding photos to illustrate this post will be very hard, I’m old and these photos are sitting in old hard drives from before the time I was a photographer, so they are not easy to find.
“My grandfather had a camera so…”
Nah, I’m joking. I don’t have the classic story of a grandfather with a camera and that made something inside of me bla bla… I wish I had a story like that though, but I haven’t.
Mum had an old point and shoot Yashica that got stolen when our house was broken into in 1998 (Fifa World Cup Final), but I never really cared about it.
It’s probably worth mentioning I was born and raised in the southern part of Brazil (220km from the border with Uruguay), a small (200,000 people) town where the economy was all about having the second biggest port of Brazil, an oil refinery, fishing and a very big and very good Federal University. I lived in this town from when I was born in 1981 until 2004, when I moved to the capital of my state, a 1,800,00 people city, and then to Australia in 2009.
My journey actually started with one of my oldest passions: technology.
In 1993, my grandfather bought me my first computer: an Intel 386 DX40. I fell in love with that machine in ways I could never put into words. In a matter of weeks, I broke it so many times just so I could go back to the store and watch them fix it and learn from what they were doing. Mind you, I was 12 years old. It didn’t take long for me to start fixing other people’s computers.
The digital cameras
Because I was so much into tech, when digital cameras started to show up in the early 2000’s (sorry, in Brazil all technology comes late) it’s when I got interested in “photography”.
My first ever camera was a previous version of this (I couldn’t find a photo of the actual model I had):
It was actually a webcam you could take with you and use it as a normal camera. It needed one or two AA batteries and had no display. The photos were very red. The resolution was probably around 0.3 megapixels.
But this little thing got me out taking photos in pubs and night clubs. I was at the time learning how to program for the web (PHP) so I joined a website called FlashRG, and all we did was to go out to parties to take photos of people and post online in the website. No, we didn’t have social media back then so this was a big thing at the time.
And that was pretty much my first contact with photography: an excuse to get into night clubs for free. Because we had a +1 to get these photos done, I would usually take someone with me and give the camera away to that person to take the photos for me, I really didn’t care much about it. My job was to go there, “take” photos and then upload them to the website I coded myself.
I was really into technology so as early as mid 90’s I was already using Photoshop. Not to retouch images of beautiful models but to make funny collages and some other things.
Some of my friends were studying Journalism and I started helping them with their assignments because I knew how to use Photoshop. Eventually some of them started sating how creative I was and that I should be in Advertising. At this point, I was already fixing computers for 8, 9 years and I couldn’t see myself doing anything different.
But eventually I moved from my hometown to the capital of my state to attend to the best Advertising school in the Country: ESPM (which translates to Superior School of Marketing and Advertising). This school was VERY expensive so I was still working full time in IT while attending classes every night.
Halfway through those 5 years, I had photography classes once a week for 90 minutes, for one full year.
I didn’t learn much back then.
We shot with a crop sensor Nikon camera, in JPEG. I was hoping we would learn some dark room stuff, or at least shoot RAW and have full control after the shoot, but that was not the case.
But as I was going through that year, I bought my first DSLR: a Canon 400D.
Buy a camera and you’re a photographer
Imported electronics have around 50% tax in Brazil so we buy our stuff from Paraguay and pay around 20% to the guy bringing them into the country. Back then, you could really only buy Canon cameras from Paraguay – or they were cheaper than Nikon cameras, can’t really remember – so that’s what I got.
Suddenly, I was the “pro” photographer amongst my friends.
So here are some of the photos the “pro” created in that period:
Time to go
I graduated in August 2009 and in September 2009 I landed in Australia.
I left EVERYTHING behind to follow my wife. When I was planning the trip, the idea was to come to Australia and start fresh: I wanted to be a photographer.
Before I came over, I took some photos of a friend, who did some modelling, and also some photos of another girl, who was not a professional model, but modelled for a makeup workshop I attended.
A week before my flight to Australia, I got a job offer in IT. It was the same company I was working for in Brazil, and when you’re moving to a new country and you have a job offer, it is hard to refuse. So I took the job and the idea of becoming a photographer was put on hold.
Right after I arrived in Sydney, Canon announced the 7D camera: a crop sensor workhorse, and I pre ordered one. By this time I got my wife into photography as well and we started taking photos of ANYTHING, together.
We eventually moved to Brisbane and I was jobless. But I had a mission: rebuild a small website I have in Brazil and THEN, become a photographer.
No, it’s not your time
I finished my website and as I was preparing to look for photography jobs, I received another offer in IT, and again, I couldn’t say no.
I took the job and worked for this company for almost 5 years and during this time I bought a lot of gear and travelled and studied (photography) a lot.
About a year before I left that job, I was asked by a colleague to shoot his wedding. I knew this was no easy task so my wife and I studied – online – wedding photography. A lot of it. By then I already had my Canon 5D Mark III and a pretty good collection of lenses.
We did an ok job.
So we decided to start a wedding photography business. I mean, it’s something you can do on the side while having a full time job, so why not?
The trick is, we only shot one wedding, so how are people gonna pay us if we don’t have a lot to show for?
And this is how I got into shooting models. We needed to practice taking photos of people, so I joined modelling Facebook groups to try to find some models to shoot with. But hey, I had no portfolio so who would work with me? My wife then found a “portfolio builder” workshop for us to go to.
It was a Kayell event with six models, and we came back with some really cool shots, although because the lights were all setup and you couldn’t change anything, I don’t consider them to really be my own creations.
But these images got me going and from here I started to find my own models to practice with, which will be covered in my next post!
Thank you for reading all the way to this part. My next post will probably not as long, but still long, and eventually they will be shorter and shorter as I approach “today”.
If you would like to support me while I take the time to write this story and other types of blog posts, please consider purchasing my LR Presets, C1 Styles or PS Actions, following the links below: