Por Este Rio Acima – The Leica digicam Weblog

In his newest sequence Por este rio acima (Up the River), Gonçalo Fonseca takes us on a particular journey: he explores the course of the Ceira, a small and pure mountain river in Portugal’s heartland. Over a size of solely about 100 kilometers, it flows furtively via virtually forgotten villages and small cities, locations which have struggled to keep up their vibrancy within the twenty first century. For the Portuguese photographer, nevertheless, it was additionally a really private undertaking, as his household roots lie within the space he visited.

You reside in Lisbon – was the journey to the quiet Portuguese countryside additionally a response to the present pandemic state of affairs?
Sure, the pandemic has taken a toll on all of us, impacting our psychological well being in a deep method. I used to be longing in a method for this journey; to be out within the wilderness and to get an opportunity to place the previous two years into perspective. For that reason, I made a decision to start a journey on foot, from the mouth of the river to its supply, excessive up within the mountains of Serra do Açor.

What connection do you might have with the area?
My maternal household roots lie on this area. I first went there after I was simply two months outdated, and, for a very long time, spent my whole summers there. I grew up on this place in the course of nature, studying from my father and grandfather concerning the bushes and animals. For my grandparents, it meant a non secular homeland, the place they felt near their roots and to nature. It was the place the entire household would get collectively at particular occasions of the yr: to honour the useless in November, for Easter in Spring, and in the course of the summer time.

Are there any recollections which have formed you specifically?
I spent my childhood there, disappearing from dwelling for hours at a time to discover and to climb bushes. I’ve very fond recollections of that point: mushroom looking and fishing with my grandfather, and strolling within the wilderness with my father, the place I’d be taught concerning the totally different species that lived there.

How lengthy you had been on the street for this undertaking?
I used to be there for 2 weeks from September 12 to 26. I walked alone many of the method there, but in addition obtained a few rides, in order that I may full the journey in time.

In any other case, you had been all the time on foot?
My maternal grandfather grew up poor, in a small village on this area that was identified for its high quality picket utensils. As a baby, I liked listening to his tales of these occasions, particularly when he advised of his adventures, strolling tons of of kilometers within the winter to promote his wares at markets, sleeping in animal pens and assembly totally different individuals. I suppose I needed to expertise that in a small method.

That looks as if an enormous problem, not solely bodily but in addition emotionally.
I walked about 100 kilometers in actually troublesome terrain and needed to take care of storms and pouring rain. It was bodily and emotionally demanding, however very peaceable as properly. On this space that’s so acquainted to me, but on the similar time very new, I felt extraordinarily linked to the land and the individuals, and it made my work far more instinctive.

Have been there any experiences that impressed you specifically?
Reaching the supply of the river was one of many highlights of the journey. Though there wasn’t a lot to {photograph} there and the climate situations had been horrible, it was a exceptional expertise. I awakened earlier than daybreak, in order that I may return to Malhada Chã, the final village earlier than the supply, in time to be sheltered from a storm that was looming. The earlier days I had been consulting with shepherds who indicated the best way there, up a steep hill and following rarely-walked paths. I walked for 2 and a half hours to succeed in the supply, and as soon as I arrived, I may barely see due to the dense fog. All I may hear had been the deer’s mating calls and the small hum of gushing water.

On this journey, you had been one of many first photographers to have the chance to work with a Leica M11. How did you get on with the digicam?
At first, I used to be a bit intimidated by it. Considering again on the historical past of images, so many historic and memorable footage have been crafted with this technique, I felt it was one thing of a duty to make use of it.

However your pictures show that you simply had been in a position to work rapidly with the digicam…
Sure. After that first response, I grew to become so in tune with it, that it felt like I’d shot with an M digicam all my life. On the finish of the journey, I felt extraordinarily linked to the digicam, having lived this glorious and emotional expertise with it in my palms.

What impressed you most about working with the Leica M11?
The colors it renders and the effective element of the pictures actually shocked me. I used to be anticipating it to be good, simply not so good as that. Often, I’ve to work on the pictures a bit bit in photoshop, to match the imaginative and prescient I had of them after I shot them. With the Leica M11 virtually all of the pictures got here out precisely how I had pictured them.

Did the journey change you?
It made me really feel nearer to my ancestors and to myself. It was a pleasant change to work on a extra private story, not understanding what I’d encounter on the subsequent bend within the street. It made me improvise and be extra inventive. It was a really rewarding expertise and one that may inform my follow sooner or later.

Gonçalo Fonseca (born 1993) works as a documentary photographer, particularly on long-term tasks. His topics, which he finds in Portugal in addition to worldwide, deal primarily with human rights, well being and tales about housing. He acquired a B.A. in Journalism, adopted by postgraduate research of Photojournalism on the Autonomous College of Barcelona. His work has been revealed in quite a few worldwide magazines. He was awarded the Leica Oskar Barnack Newcomer Award in 2020 for his sequence New Lisbon. He’s a member of the non-profit group Photographic Social Imaginative and prescient and teaches Pictures on the Pelos Teus Olhos undertaking in Chelas, Lisbon.
Extra of Gonçalo Fonseca’s work could be seen on his web site and Instagram channel.

A portfolio of his present work will seem in LFI journal 2/2022.

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