Nanã Sousa Dias: the man, the music, the photography
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Who is Nana Sousa Dias ?
In 1997, by his 40th anniversary, being one of the most famous saxophone players in Portugal, he decided to give himself another chance as a photographer. He bought a second hand Hasselblad and medium format enlarger and started to study and practising, with the Ansel Adams trilogy books.
Soon he was shooting also with large format cameras.
You are a professional musician and international known photographer. They are “two” persons or “one” person? Can you tell us a little about yourself?
Can you describe, in a short resume, how you did arrive into photography in general and in landscape photography in particular?
When I started as a teenager, I didn't have a lot of life experience, so I was interested in shooting what a kid of that age “feels”. Nowadays, the way I look to everything is obviously very different.
About the subjects in your pictures: how do you choose your locations? Do you go for the mood of a moment or do you make long term plans with research and study on the internet, what gear you will need and more? Do you have any “method” for shooting or is it all instinctly?
What is your criteria about bw and colour photography? (regarding, aesthetics, mood, shapes, etc)
Do you see yourself inside a particular “trend” (or school) or do you see yourself like an “outsider”?
What skills do you think are relevant to someone when shooting landscape photography? And what do you think is the most relevant challenge for a landscape photographer?
Analogue is again in fashion (if it ever was out…). You are first of all, a master of analogue photography and I know you have thousands of photos not yet developed. Same for digital ones! How do consider that digital/analogue duality? Does it make sense to you to defend one of them or to use both or to prefer one above the other?
Can you tell us how was the analogue learning process for you when you only could see the images as prints and many days after you took them? And what important to you in this evolution according to your way of seeing and composing?
In analogue photography there are the negative development techniques. In digital photography we have the digital editing of the file. What is your relationship with these two realities and how do you perceive and use these techniques in your photography?
How important is the equipment for you? Can you tell us about your relationship with Photographic gear?It's not very important, I think. It is much more to know perfectly well your equipment and to be able to achieve the best quality possible with it. To me, cameras are just tools and not cult objects or some kind of special jewellery. I shoot mainly with medium and large format cameras and very rarely with 35mm. My digital camera is an entry level APS DSLR camera equipped with cheap lenses and I don't feel the need for more. All my students have better digital cameras than I do. ;-)
Do you have a favourite location to shoot? If so, which locations have been your favourite spots to shoot and why?
Is there anything you could have photographed and that you regret not to have done? Or just tell us anything related to photography you regret you didn't do?
Is there a photographer that you know personally, that impressed you a lot as person as well as? Is there any photographer you don't know personally and that you would have loved to know?
Is there any picture from another photographer who has “marked” you significantly that you often recall and that you would like to have hanging on your wall?
About your own photos, which is the image that marked you most and that often comes up in your mind/memory? Concretely, THE one you still consider as one of your best?
In some kind of self-critical way, do you think that do you have any weak point as a photographer? Do you agree to talk about it with us?
What qualities do you like to see in other´s photographs as Nana Sousa Dias, spectator and critic? What are you looking for unconsciously in other people's images, which flaws or qualities do you admire or draw your attention right away?
Is there any gear in particular that helps you to develop your photographic skills and style? – If so, why?Gear is not so important, however, a few years ago, I built a large format camera (4x5”), equipped with an extreme wide angle lens which covers a 120º angle, which is really wide. I built this camera with fixed focus and external viewfinder to reduce at minimum the setting time. The idea was to have a very fast LF camera to operate and even shoot handheld. I take a lot of my pictures nearby the sea during the winter with big and dangerous waves. So, it is not a good idea to be under a black cloth without seeing what's happening around you. This camera was a big challenge because of his extreme wide lens and some of my photographer friends told me it was not a good choice for landscape. Actually, it's the camera I use the most for landscape. Now, I can “see” through that lens and “transform” reality with this camera. I love it.
What are you working on recently? Are there projects going on? Do you have plans to develop even more your photography in the future?
Nowadays there are two main “trends” in photography: the technologic race with camera brands offering us more and more pixels, resolution and outstanding digital features. The other trend is going “back to basics” with film (more and more shooting in 35mm, medium and large format), lomo, pinhole and so on. How do you watch this scenario and how does this affect your photographic work?
Do you have a picture or pictures of someone else that you particular like? Can you tell us which?
How did photography change your life as a person?
How do you deal with adverse weather conditions?
You also teach photography in workshops and master classes in several countries in Europe and in America. What is the most valuable advice you give to your students?
Can you tell us briefly how a image comes to life by the hands of Nana Sousa Dias? From the “click” of the camera through the processing and then to the final presentation?
I think to the world´s eyes you are, of course, a completely accomplished photographer. Do you feel like that? What can we expect from Nana Sousa Dias in the near future?
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