Goncalo is photographer specialising in fashion, editorial and commercial photography. Born in Portugal, at the age of eleven he moved to the UK where after High School he worked as a commercial web and graphic designer. By the age of twenty-one he had moved to Bristol where he pursued a career in fashion photography. He has enjoyed working with some great labels and designers, including the wonderful Maiya (CLICK HERE for Maiya's Directory listing). He also organises and runs photography and retouching workshops.
We asked Goncalo to tell us about his job and how the work of a photographer is impacted by the growth of sustainability and ethical factors within the fashion industry. He also gave us some advice to pass on to budding photographers and the inside gossip on what it was like to work with one of the loveliest ethical fashion brands....
What is the best part of your job?
Wow, there are so many good bits it is hard to single one out from the rest! I strongly believe that all the best equipment and qualifications can’t give a photographer vision. That comes from experience and a natural desire to be the best at what you do. With that in mind the best bit about my job is having a budget that is just slightly shy of what is actually required as I love the challenge to succeed while under pressure. The best jobs in the world are never easy.
What is your greatest achievement to date?
Well having my work featured on Ethical Fashion Forum has to rank right up there. I guess I could also name a few designers or magazines. However, while I do count those as incredible achievements I feel my greatest has been managing my own photography business at the age of 26. Looking after clients, directing big teams of people and organising photography and modeling workshops and events never looses its thrill.
What was it like to work with Maiya?
Working for Maiya was an incredible experience! The first thing that was obvious to me was that I fell in love with all of the designs. Sometimes as a professional fashion photographer you will shoot products that you yourself wouldn’t get caught dead in but never with a brand like Maiya. Also, having looked at the dresses and coats up close I couldn’t believe the high quality of the garments. I always thought “ethical fashion” meant some wild-hair hippie in a field knitting jumpers out of pond weeds! The vision that Maiya fashion has for its garments is very clear; you can have ethically sourced materials and contemporary classic designs without causing harm to the world and the life within it.
We spoke at length about concepts and visual directions for the shoot so we had a clear idea of the outcome before we moved forward with the shoot. We also sourced ethical jewellery and handbags to accesorise the models for the shoot by UK designers Embellished Truth, Rachel Helen Designs & Jacqueline Brill. The shoot itself was a challenge as it was all shot on location. It was freezing cold, gale winds and rain. The poor models worked through the pain with a smile on their faces as did everyone else. We all pulled together to ensure that the fashion and Maiya's message wasn’t compromised by the challenges faced during the photo shoot. Maiya and I have already started organising their Spring/Summer collection 2012 so stay tuned.
Do you think the issues of ethical sourcing and sustainability make a difference to the work of the fashion photographer?
In some aspects yes. Like I did, many people still have preconceptions of ethical fashion (I turn your attention to my earlier “hippie” comment) so the photographer needs to work even harder to prove the commercial viability of ethical fashion garments. Ethical fashion is a really hot trend right now so there is a huge shift of designers migrating to sustainable materials. This is partly because the world is a more educated place now about the ecological and human cost of sourcing non-ethical and unsustainable materials. In my opinion "Ethical fashion is not just about where it’s going but where it has been”.
The issue quite a lot of the time is allowing ethical designers have access to the high street so the ethical designs they produce become accessible to everyone at an affordable price. I always give a fee discount to ethical designers seeking my services because I believe in what they are doing and it means there is no suffering in my hands.
What advice do you have for students wanting to pursue a career in fashion photography?
The first bit of advice is to treat fashion photography as a business, not a lifestyle. Often when I meet students in my workshops they have misconceptions about the photography fashion industry. The most common one I come across is that you need a lot of expensive equipment and a big budget to create stunning images. What you need to be able to create them is “vision”, hard work and a team you trust to get the job done.
If you are not reading fashion magazines (even if just to look at the images to see what is trending and what is not in terms of photography styles) then you need to start doing it. If you want to be great then you have to see what the “great” photographers are doing. Get with other photographers, learn from each other, learn technical terms and how to apply them in real practical environments. Photography courses in colleges do not prepare you for the real world. They will not teach you how to deal with a difficult model or client or how to behave in a professional manner, translating your photography ideas into concepts that will generate money for the client.
This industry requires you to be focused and passionate with strong drive to succeed. If you are, then the rewards are great; you get to meet amazing people on a daily basis, communicate with your photography to millions of people and the pay isn’t bad either though you’ll never have any time to spend it!
Thank you Goncalo for sharing your experience with us and showing us how easily misconceptions about ethical fashion can be broken down!
If you would like to learn more about how to get listed on one of our Databases, for example the Brand Directory, please CLICK HERE. We can offer you and your business promotional support and exclusive access to our resources and knowledge of the sustainable fashion industry. The SOURCE & SOURCE Plus are personal services, tailored to your business and needs.
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