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Artist of the Week — Ricardo Liberato

March 21, 2011 by · 1 comment

Interview by Yana Radilova with the photographer Ricardo Liberato

self portrait

Ricardo Liberato: “It is this constant pressure of shooting something I am not comfortable with that defines my photography and makes me evolve”

How did you become interested in photography?

Five years ago I was really drunk at 5am and my first DSLR (Canon 300D) was refusing to make a decent photo of some gorgeous decoration in a bar. I turned this knob from “Auto” to “M”. The result was total addiction and the photo below:

A Teya Bar
A Teya Bar (Lisbon, 2005)

Do you keep your earliest photos? Are they really different from your new photographs?

Definitely yes. I tried the old technique of making a lot of mistakes to learn – still doing it – and it really shows in my early stuff.

You seem to be inspired by the urban world. What is more inspiring – misery or beauty?

Misery, definitely. I remember submitting my first photograph of misery to a critique group (deleteme uncensored on flickr) and in the conversation the following came about
superchou: (…) no, I mean the actual connection with the subject, regardless of b&w or color.
liber: I wouldn’t connect with this subject with a 10 ft pole :-0
superchou: well, that certainly came across in the image

Lost to Society (Prague, 2008)

Reading what I wrote got me in shame and next time I was in Prague I was eating, drinking and walking with a group of homeless. That was a life-changing experience and led to images like this:

Geovanni (Prague, 2009)

Ksara and Jan
Ksara and Jan (Prague, 2009)

What qualities are necessary for a professional photographer?

Another source of income would be one 🙂 I am an amateur who sells prints, but thanks to my activity in software I am able to shoot what I want, not what I am good at. It is this constant pressure of shooting something I am not comfortable with that defines my photography and makes me evolve.

$ (Riga, 2008)

I admire professionals who are able to both make a living exclusively off photography yet still make art. The pressure of the addiction to food and shelter makes it really easy to compromise and I think art is the result of stretching your boundaries.

What emotions are most difficult to capture?

Genuine emotions.

Im Feeling Angry Today
I’m feeling Angry Today (Prague, 2008, self portrait)

Ksara (Prague, 2009)

Do you take part in different competitions for photographers?

Yes. I participate in several online competitions, mostly on flickr. It is a real fun way of making you stretch the photography muscle. My favorites are all variations of Delete Me Uncensored. In this game other photographers critique your photo, finishing with a save (good) or delete (bad) vote. With 10 saves before 10 deletes you get to put your photo in a group portfolio out of which a book is published every year. The game is quite competitive and funny and a refreshing change from the mostly positive, polite feedback you get on flickr. I also compete in contests like FU64, where 64 photographers play in 6 rounds a bit like a photography cup.

What attracts you most in women?

Eyes. I find they have a timeless quality which allow you to capture a person’s personality in one shot.

Sharla (England, 2010)

Veselina (Bulgaria, 2008)

How do you make your models feel at ease?

A quiet atmosphere and having a genuine interest in someone’s personality shows through and makes people forget they are being photographed. It’s more like a conversation where I happen to be shooting some photos than a photoshoot.

Kathryn (London, 2010)

In Prague
In Prague (2010)

You have traveled a lot around the world. What places were most fascinating?

The old capitals of Eastern Europe, for example Moscow, Prague, Riga and Warsaw. They’re so full of history and genuine people and there is such a mix of the beauty and misery that define my photographic experience.

Playing In The Mist
Playing in the Mist (Riga, 2009)

Disconnected World
Disconnected World (Riga, 2010)

Expectations (Moscow, 2009)

How do you imagine the “ideal” photo?

It’s that photo where light and subject matter meet to tell a story. A lot of times I travel by a place and imagine what would be the conditions to shoot it. On occasion those conditions meet and make a photographer happy.

Take the small tree below: every day it is just an ordinary tree, but on a cloudy day, with an opening in the sky to light it in isolation, it takes a whole new character, meaning and beauty.

Lonely (Abruzzo, 2010)

Wild Mares
Wild Mares (Abruzzo, 2010)

Some of your photos are black and white, while others are colorful. What is the role of colors in photography?

In black and white your language is lines and contrast. Color adds coolness / warmness and a whole vocabulary of relationships between colors and feelings. For me it is a lot harder to make a great color photo than a great black and white photo. Good photos tend to be an exercise in simplicity, color adds a whole layer of complexity to simplify.

Vertigo II
Vertigo II (Prague 2008)

Vertigo IV
Vertigo IV (Prague 2009)

If you had to describe yourself with a single photo, how would it look?

Alexis Liberato
Alexis Liberato (Turkey, 2010)

At the age of 39 , originally from Angola, but living currently between London, Prague, Warsaw and wherever else his software engineering consulting takes him, he describes himself as a world wanderer.
Ricardo Liberato discovered the passion for photography out of stubbornness 6 years ago and shoots every genre, from street photography to glamour with everything from a 1970’s Rolleiflex to the latest Phase One P65+. He contributes most of his photos as creative commons to flickr and wikimedia to help document the world in beauty.
In his portfolio you will find an eclectic mix of genres, with the only common thread being contrast.

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