Continuing the series of interviews I’m doing, here is what Portuguese fashion photographer Frederico Martins has to say about his work. He is one of Portugal’s most successful photographers, having published in several international magazines.
How did you get started in photography?
I started like everyone else, photographing sunsets, flowers and bees, and bodyboard which remains one of my passions. At the time, my dad had a pentax auto110 with lots of lenses and accessories, so I could play and experiment a lot. Quickly I switched to an Olimpus om40, and from then on I didn’t stop. My first Nikon was the F70 back in 98. I quickly saved money, got a job, and was able to buy the F90X.
Does one need to have formal training?
No. As in any artistic field, you learn by doing, and I’ve done a lot. I’m from the film generation, I photographed thousands and thousands of rolls. Today, I am known for my work in fashion, but I’ve been a professional photographer since 1998, when I was 18.
What were the main obstacles you faced along your career?
The obstacle presented to photographers coming from the North of Portugal. It’s much harder for us to impose our work in Lisbon. Today, that obstacle is gone, but it wasn’t easy in the beginning.
What are the ingredients for success as a photographer, in particular in the Portuguese market?
That’s a good question. I think that above all is to be able to “sell” yourself well. In Portugal, quality and excellence aren’t very valued, so those attributes end up not being as essential as in other markets. It is not hard to achieve some success here, the standards aren’t very high, and it’s easy to be noticed.
Also good commercial/communication skills, creative/technical quality, and a sense of your place in the market.
Where do you find inspiration?
Everywhere, but architecture has a great influence in my work!
What photographers do you consider a reference in your field?
There are several I admire and consider references, but the classics leave a greater mark: Demarchelier, Avedon, Simms, Sief. From the most recent, Mert and Marcus, Kadel, and Sebastian Kim. At the moment my favourite is Txema Yest.
Do you post produce your images? Are there limits?
I did for a long time. Now I work with one of the best in the country, José Paulo Reis. We work together, and all is done under my supervision, of course with José’s excellence.
I don’t think there are limits, it’s a matter of taste! I personally like to have the images the moment I shoot them. Photoshop is a complement and not the main tool.
What advice would you give to someone making a start in photography?
That he first learns how to photograph and understands what exactly he is doing. Lack of technical skill is something that troubles me, and you see too many mistakes around, especially on Facebook!
I’d like to add, as an advice, that photography demands a lot of work and practice, so it’s not a course that will make you better at it. “Don’t just talk the talk, walk the walk”, and I mean it literally.
Frederico Martins is a Portuguese Fashion Photographer based in London and Porto (Portugal). His work can be seen in magazines like Vogue accessory Italy, Vogue Portugal, Elle Portugal, Elle Indonesia, Maxim USA, Maxima, Bello Mag, GQ Portugal and many others.
Frederico is one of the most talented young portuguese fashion photographers, having been nominated in 2011 as best fashion photographer of the year at the “Fashion Awards” By Fashion TV. In 2009 he also won the best fashion photographer prize at the “Revelations Awards” that celebrates the best young portuguese talents in fashion.
He has a partnership with PhaseOne, and will be teaching a workshop in Barcelona on behalf of the brand.