Portuguese born in Compiègne, France, in 1987, Daniel lives in Portugal, near Porto, since he is 10 years old. Daniel Rodrigues became a professional photographer after the passage by the Portuguese Institute of Photography (2010). His career started in the Portuguese newspaper, Correio da Manhã, and he also worked in Global Imagens Agency, responsible for photographs in newspapers as Jornal de Notícias, Diário de Notícias and O Jogo. He is an award winning photographer who in 2013 won a first place in the World Press Photo, Daily Life category, and in 2015 a third place as Photographer of the Year in POYi, among many other awards. In celebration of the new Leica Store and Gallery in Porto, Rodrigues shares his new exhibition.
As a Porto-based photographer, what does the Leica Store & Gallery opening mean for you and the photographer community?
It’s very good! I think it makes sense the first store in the Iberian peninsula to be in Porto for the history that Leica has with this area of the country and because of the Leica factory that is located a few kilometers from the store. Porto is trendy, growing, and the fact that we have a Leica store now will get many Leica lovers to come here. It is the best camera brand in the best city. Perfect combination!
Personally, it’s a huge pride. I am very pleased myself being the first photographer to exhibit at the Porto Leica Store & Gallery. And I’m very happy!
Your focus on photojournalism allows you to tell very compelling stories. What story do you want to tell about the city of Porto?
Yes, as a photojournalist, I am also a storyteller. But in this specific work of Porto it’s different. I do not see my work as a job, but rather as a hobby. And the photographs of Porto is something more personal. I do not try to tell a story with several images but only with one image. When I’m not in assignment or traveling my favorite hobby is walking the streets of Porto with my Leica, listening to music and trying to capture unique moments of this wonderful city. Trying on an image to convey the essence of Porto. A different style from the rest of my work.
Several images revolve around the bridge, a very nice photographic composition – why is this such an important emblem of the city and why do you like to photograph it?
A project of Théophile Seyrig, disciple of Gustave Eiffel. This bridge is a symbol of the city of Oporto. Fully built in iron, it conveys confidence and grandeur. It’s like our Eiffel Tower. The landscape of Porto was different without this bridge. I personally love the bridge and everything around it: the river, the boats, the seagulls, the cliffs, everything is magical. Whenever I return from a long trip I like to go there. It’s my welcome to the city. I like to photograph it because it’s a challenge. And I love challenges! Being the most photographed place of the Porto there are thousands of photographs of her. And I love spending hours looking at her and trying to take a picture, a different look, a look of mine, more personal!
Why Monochrome? Because it was the camera that Leica offered me when I won the World Press Photo Award. Most of my work is black and white. If I could, I would always work in black and white. And at the time it was the new relic of Leica and the people of Leica found (and I thank you immensely) that it was the best camera for me. They got it right, because it really is!
Talking about the use of Leica, how do you compare it with other equipment? Meaning, what’s your perception as to Leica’s performance and versatility for photographers to express creativity?
I can not explain. It’s something different, it’s something unique! The whole mechanism, the quality, the noise, everything is different, it’s magic! With a Leica we are more creative, we learn to be better photographers and improve our style. The truth is that shooting with Leica is another level. It’s something that gives me immense pleasure and makes me better.
Share your thoughts on the World Press Photo Award you won back in 2013, what was it like?
It was amazing. For any photojournalist to win the WPP it is something important, something huge. But for me I think it had even more significance because at the time I was unemployed and without material. And it radically changed my life! I returned to have material to photograph, and once again I want to thank Leica, and I got back to work. I went back to practicing what really makes me happy is to photograph. So for me to win a WPP was also a lesson: Never give up!
How do you envision the future of photojournalism? For instance, in relation to technology and smartphones?
There are people who say it will end, I don’t think so. As much as there is technology and smartphones with good cameras there will always be a difference between a photograph taken by a professional and an amateur. I see it as a challenge, why? It forces us to be better, to be more creative, to be different. If there are going to be changes, yes it will for sure. Is it going to be more complicated? Perhaps! But photojournalism will always exist! We must not forget that technology is not always bad. It brought us digital photography. That helped photojournalists a lot. In my opinion of course.
What do you want the audience to walk away with after they see your exhibition?
I hope with my photos to convey the passion I have for this city. That people leave the exhibition and go home thinking how beautiful Porto. If I can make people have emotions with my pictures, even if it is small, I’m already happy. I hope they enjoy the work.
Lastly, what other projects are you working on and is there anything else you’d like to share with our readers?
I’m thinking about doing something about Portugal. I travel a lot and do a lot of things in the world but I still have nothing (other than Porto) about Portugal. About Portuguese culture and traditions. Among many ideas that I have in mind this should be my next big project.
To know more about Daniel Rodrigues’ work, please visit his official website.