What better way of spending a day off from work than doing it with Joana?

It’s always great fun to have her around and I can’t state enough how amazing she is. Truly.
She gets up early, she brings props and makeup, she models and, this time, she even developed the first roll herself? How cool is that?

Thank you over and over again Joana. This would not be possible without you.

So, the actual idea.
I’ve been using the Hasselblad on every session with Joana and this time we wanted something different. Visually different. So, instead of doing something outdoors, as we always do, we came to my place.

I wanted something dark, contrasted and grainy and that’s exactly what pushed Trix and Xtol deliver.

There’s also a special prop we like to use. A semi-transparent black veil. In the other sessions Joana is actually using the veil but this time I wanted to use it as a “filter” between the lens and her.
Examples from previous sessions.

01 02

We started this new session in almost total darkness with only a small light on the ceiling. Joana had a window right behind her and I had to close the drapes as I didn’t want any back light. The pictures came out like this.

I could see it was really dark and these were taken at 1/60s – f4. Trix pushed to 3200 ISO.
I asked Joana to move directly under the light and I didn’t like the result. I like the light on her face but on the other hand I couldn’t see the mask she was wearing.

Nikon F3 + Trix@3200 + Xtol stock - 10 mim

Nikon F3 + Trix@3200 + Xtol stock – 10 mim

We went to the living room for more light and we tried to shoot through the veil. My first idea was to actually straighten the veil as much as possible just to get that extra “texture” even if it is out of focus.

It came out like this.


That is an awful shot!
I can see my couch back there and while Joana’s face and the mask are getting light, her left shoulder is nothing but a black stain and she was wearing a beautiful kimono .

On the other hand the veil was not working the way I wanted. The image was still too “clear”, I wanted more… I don’t know if “meddling” is the right word.

I asked Joana to stand up and to let the veil wave with the breeze. I climbed onto a chair and did this.


I was starting to see the veil waving and creating the texture I was looking for. Joana had to held the pose while I waited for the right moment to take the shot. I didn’t want anything covering up her eyes or lips and even though I was getting the mask of frame I was not getting the kimono.

Changed the 50mm f/1.4 to the 35mm f/2.8, one step back, and here’s the result.


Even though I love Joana’s beautiful tummy I was cutting off to much mask and I wanted to capture the braids on her hair and the pattern of the kimono.

This is the final shot and the one that illustrates our efforts the best.


Personal note.

When it comes to photography I’m at peace with myself for many years now.

What do I mean by “being at peace”?

It means I don’t want to become a photographer of any kind.
It means I do what I do for my own pleasure. To me photography is nothing but therapy.

It keeps my mind busy, it gives me a reason for making travel plans, to go out for a walk, to get up early on weekends, it makes me reach for friends…

Photography is just an excuse.

That is why it’s so easy for me to trash hundreds of negatives each year. I only keep pictures of friends and family.

My motivation is to go out and to use a camera and to enjoy the act of taking pictures while enjoying Nature, a city, a friend…

That’s why I often say, I’m not a photographer, I’m a picture taker.

I do what I do with the absolute certainty of my value as a photographer and that’s liberating. The point is, I feel free. Free from pressure, free from inhibitions.

I’m never disappointed about what comes out of the developing tank because my expectations are non existent from the artistic point of view. On the other hand I aim to post decent examples of my personal experiments.

As always, please forgive the rough English.

  1. I love all these pictures Paulo, you are a very harsh critic of your own work sometimes but I understand where you are coming from xx

  2. Borja said:

    This collection is by far your most provocative work. Bravo!

  3. Some nice shots here Paulo, I to have a similar perspective on photography, be it being on my bike or a walk it allows me to enjoy the moment and take away something for later. I shot entirely for me and care not what anyone else thinks, it is very liberating.

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