Q: Hi André, welcome to Pellicola. Tell us something about your life and yourself.
Hi! Thanks for giving me the opportunity to answer these lovely questions. My name is André Terras Alexandre. I was born in Portugal and I am currently living in Porto. I work as a junior doctor, and I am now in the last year of my pulmonology residency.
Q: What’s your first memory with a camera?
I actually have no idea. I remember grabbing the family camera when I was 3 or 4 years old and running around the house shooting my parents and my brother in the most random situations, like brushing their teeth, cooking or watching TV. Those crappy shots were always some of my favourites of the roll because they were so candid and apparently meaningless. I was around 20 years old when I bought my first camera with my own money, it was a Fisheye 2. It was weird and funky, but I loved it. I had my first experience trying different film stocks with it. I cross-processed film, tried redscale, color flashes, multiple exposures, light trails… It was good fun. Even Thurston Moore from Sonic Youth shot a bunch of images with it after a show, when I asked him for an autograph. He thought it was the craziest camera he had ever seen. After the Fisheye I moved on to a Holga, and later a few SLRs, like the Pentax ME Super, the Canon A-1, etc… Those were my first “real” film cameras and helped me gain some of the knowledge and experience I have today.
Q: Why do you still shoot film?
In my opinion, the film look is impossible to recreate on digital, like it has some form of dimension that can only be captured that way. Life is not perfect and film can make an image look more like real life because of its beautiful flaws. There is something about digital images that makes them look too perfect, and that ends up making the photos look boring and unnatural. Plus, the final result heavily depends on the time spent post-processing, which is something I absolutely hate doing. I’d rather spend my time shooting and exploring new places than sitting in front of the computer editing images, that’s just a terrible plan for a day. I currently don’t own a digital camera and I don’t think I will in the near future.
Q: What is your favorite subject to shoot?
I like living in the city, but it’s a bit difficult to capture street scenes in its whole essence. Or maybe I’m just not talented enough to do so. That doesn’t mean I don’t shoot some street stuff, especially at night, but I usually keep it to myself. On the other hand, I am a bit shy to ask for strangers to pose for my photos, so I also don’t do much portrait work. I sometimes use people as a scale unit for some of my landscape shots, but in a way that the loneliness feeling of the landscape still stands out as the main element of the image. So that’s pretty much why I mainly shoot landscapes. They give me time to absorb and enjoy the moment and still be able to capture the image. There’s nothing better than hiking a beautiful trail in the mountain or driving on an endless road and stop to capture stills of the scenery you’re immersed in. The symbiosis between the place and the photographer really shows in the photos, and that’s an important element that differentiates a good from an amazing photograph.
Q: Do you think that a photographer like you, that shows us how beautiful is our planet, has also an educational role in remembering where pollution is leading us?
Definitely. I don’t travel as much as I would like to because of my job. I just can’t spend my vacation days all at once and feel miserable for the rest of the year. But when I travel I have an urge to go to places that are pure and untouched (I mean, not always, but I guess even I have the right to go to the Grand Canyon and Yosemite at least once). Going to a remote location doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s going to be beautiful or mindblowing, but documenting these places is essential. People tend to take the world for granted. I mean, no one stares at a picture of the Eiffel Tower for more than a few seconds. Or other popular location for that matter. If I can show them a piece of the world that it’s less familiar I think it’s easier to stop and think about it for a bit longer.
Q: Which was the most remarkable place you’ve photographed?
I think my favourite place I shot to date was the Ilulissat Icefjord, in Greenland. It’s a UNESCO world heritage site and possibly the most beautiful place I’ve ever been to. The fjord, about 80 kilometers long, connects Greenland’s massive ice sheet to the Ilulissat bay, and it is the largest producer of icebergs in the northern hemisphere. Traveling by boat among the icebergs under the midnight sun, alongside dozens of whales, is definitely the experience of a lifetime.
Q: We would like to know more about your experience in the Arctic.
I miss that trip every single day. I’ve been to Greenland in July 2017. I began to explore Kangerlussuaq, the gateway to the island; from there I flew to Ilulissat, and later the capital Nuuk. Overall it was an extreme journey, with minimal comforts sometimes. The landscape is aggressively beautiful, mountainous, with colorful flora contrasting with the icy shades of glaciers. The Inuit culture was also one of the reasons why I decided to travel to the Arctic. So unknown, so mysterious, so remote. I had to know more about these people. They carry a heavy cultural load, whose life revolves around the sea. I tried seal and whale dishes, common at the table of Greenlanders. I remember them starring at the travellers with astonishment, trying to figure out what kind of person would visit a country like theirs. I left a lot to explore in Greenland, though. I hope I can go back in the future.
Q: What does keep you inspired?
Inspiration comes in a lot of ways. Sometimes I think I won’t live enough to be able to explore other planets, so I guess being stuck on earth acts as a form of inspiration, in the sense that it’s relatively easy to move around and appreciate the most incredible places. Of course I also get inspiration from a bunch of different young photographers from this new generation, like Cody Cobb, Dan Tom, Dino Kužnik, or Alec Soth. You don’t necessarily have to go back to Ansel Adams to get inspiration. I have also been very inspired by some street/night photographers, like Alex Webb, Todd Hido, Greg Girard or Joe Greer. I have been shooting more and more street and night stuff thanks to these guys. Last, but not least, I can’t stress enough the importance of some YouTube channels/creators in my inspiration to keep shooting and experimenting with film, and I guess that a lot of photographers out there feel the same way. George Muncey (Negative Feedback), Matt Day, Adrian Vila (aows), Willem Verbeeck, Ben Horne, Nick Carver, just to name a few. They are all professional photographers and they construct their lives around the art, which is something that is far from my reality, but their contribution to film photography can’t be overlooked, they’re pretty inspirational folks.
Q: Thanks a lot, André, for your time. Would you suggest our readers a film or an album?Watch Melancholia by Lars von Trier at least once in your lifetime. And listen to In the Aeroplane Over the Sea by Neutral Milk Hotel as many times as you possibly can.
All shots © André Terras Alexandre