Pedro CoutoPortrait Photographer
Passionate about photography from an early age and encouraged by his father's taste, Pedro Couto always lived with cameras and always showed a desire to capture moments and landscapes. Specialized in portraits, Pedro Couto photographs people trying to find their best expression, training the client to look good in photographs.
Besides that, Pedro Couto is a member of Peter Hurley's Headshot Crew (the world's largest team of portrait photographers), and is the graphic editor of the newspaper “Viver a Nossa Terra”, from Ribeirão, Vila Nova de Famalicão. With a very diverse client portfolio, Pedro Couto also photographs products, installations, actions and teams.
Inspired mainly by Gerês, Porto and the little things of everyday life, the photographer from Ribeirão is one of the special guests at PARTTEAM & OEMKIOSKS Connecting Stories.
1. How and when did the passion for photography come along? Can you tell us about your journey and your professional experience?
I always liked photography. It was a hobby of my father and the taste passed to me and my brothers. My school training, however, is in computer management. I worked in the area of information systems in the graphics industry for 12 years, until I decided to start my own business. At first I made photo albums of ceremonies for other photographers and of various subjects for individuals. As a way of spreading the activity, I invested in sharing on social networks the photographs I took in my spare time. Quickly began to arrive requests for canvas for decoration, photography workshops and product photography. I set up the studio with some basic lighting equipment and learned a lot with each challenge that was proposed to me.
One day, a friend asked me to portray him, as he was going to hold a public position and needed a proper personal image. Naturally, I tried to find out how it was done and, a few days later, I called him to do the work. It went very well and I thought it was a very interesting kind of work, which I could explore.
2. Although you photograph a bit of everything, you stand out as a portrait photographer. What attracts you the most in this specialization, if we can say so?
First of all, I wanted to avoid the social photography market. Most of the ceremonies are on the weekends and I prefer to take that time with the family. For these reasons, I wanted to focus on industrial photography (product and manufacturing processes) and portrait. I usually say "professional portrait", but I mean the client's profession. It's an area that is growing, because everyone needs a portrait. More and more it is important to know who you are dealing with and professionals are becoming aware that they have to present themselves in a convincing way. The first impression is given by photography. Having specialized in portrait allows me to meet very interesting people, from all over the country, who look for my style.
3. You often say that with you “everyone is photogenic”. How do you do that?
It's true. All faces are interesting and have potential. All of them, without exception. Not everyone can be a model, but everyone gets an expression that conveys trust and kindness. This is the essential focus of my work: to interact with the person in a way that makes the expression natural. I go with clients to the mirror to explain to them what they can do with their eyebrows, eyes, mouth, neck, hair, all aspects of face and posture.
In my sessions there is always good mood and good conversation. I like to meet people and make them comfortable. But I'm not always praising the client. When we are doing something wrong, we analyze and correct it. It's a very interactive process in which the photographed person participates, gives opinions. We get that astonished look we make in the pictures to stop happening.
4. Do people usually bring preconceived ideas of the results of photo sessions?
Yes, a lot. Unfortunately. The normal thing is to be told: “I'm not photogenic at all”. I hear that so many times that I wrote an article on my website. Sometimes I show them, to see that almost everyone thinks so.
Most people have a diminished image of themselves. They see themselves with defects in their faces and they live it every day. How many times do we hear “don't take my pictures”? How often do we see people taking pictures in the mirror with their phone covering their face? It's a sign of great insecurity about their own appearance. However, they never tire of praising other people. Why don't we accept a compliment too? We were born with this face and we will always live with it. It is ours and it is unique! We must accept it as a positive thing.
5. What feedback have you had from people?
The best possible. Several people have already told me that I changed their lives, others that started to have much more confidence when they are photographed. In essence, they realize that, in fact, we are all beautiful and that until that time they hadn't been photographed by those who knew how to teach them.
I have examples of people that I portrayed years ago and that whenever they see me, they give me a hug. There's a very positive impact they feel for having shown them that they are photogenic after all. It's very good to understand how, with our work, we can touch people's lives so deeply.
6. In this area, it takes more than good equipment to be a good photographer. In your opinion, what distinguishes you from other photographers?
All photographers need equipment. But there is a misconception that it is the material that makes the photos. What defines a photographer is his style and way of working. I chose to dedicate myself to these areas and I'm gaining my space. As I deal a lot with people, I have to act naturally because that's the only way I can empathize with clients. I would say that my style is a reflection of my personality.
7. You have won some photography awards over the years. Is there one that stands out especially? Why?
I will undoubtedly highlight the first. It was an honorable mention with a photograph of frozen camellias. The process until the flowers were frozen was interesting and the result intriguing. I like to make photographs with things we all have at home, without resorting to much equipment, and explain to people how the final look was achieved. Sometimes it's enough to use your cell phone and control the sunlight to have a good picture. It's an excellent hobby.
8. You have also seen some of your works exhibited. Which exhibition gave you the most pleasure to prepare?
I can't say it was just one. The exhibition “O Meu Porto”, at Casa das Artes de Famalicão, went very well. I was free to choose the theme and decided to share my way of living the city of Porto. The exhibition was visited by many people and the feedback was very positive. But I had another exhibition – “Retratos de Sabedoria” –, for which I had the opportunity to portray 15 elderly residents of Casa do Paço Foundation. It was an extraordinary experience to talk with those people and learn about their life story. Normally I speak in my sessions, but there I listened.
9. Have you been passing on this taste for photography to your children and those around you?
Yes, without a doubt. Mainly by alerting to the need we have to register for posterity. We like to see the photographs of our ancestors, but we are taking little care in leaving memories for our descendants. This is very important. What pictures of us will our grandchildren and great-grandchildren have to know what we were like? And when it's necessary, I also give some tips about photographing other things, since everyone now has the camera in their pocket and, with a little care, we can create beautiful photos.
10. As far as training is concerned, how does a photographer manage to evolve?
I started by reading foreign magazines that I signed during my teenage years. There was no Internet. I bought many books too. To a certain extent, I was self-taught and learned with trial and error. When I realized that doing professional portrait was a business area with potential, I went to do specific training with Peter Hurley.
And the training continues, always. There are always new things to learn, lighting techniques, marketing, social networks. And what to do in interaction with clients. I belong to a group of photographers from all over the world where knowledge sharing is permanent. We don't see ourselves as competitors, but as professional colleagues who evolve together.
11. What projects do you have for the future?
Make way in the portrait photography market, no doubt. Everyone needs a portrait! I have a large and very nice studio that allows great flexibility both to receive clients and to photograph products. In business and industrial photography, I intend to widen the range of companies that work with me.
12. As PARTTEAM & OEMKIOSKS is a company that develops and manufactures multimedia kiosks, self-service equipment, digital billboards, interactive tables and other digital solutions for all types of industries, what relevance can photography have in digital strategy in your opinion?
Photography is fundamental in several aspects. The first thing we want to see from a product is the look. The photography has to be good, because the level of demand from customers is currently very high. Then, we want to demonstrate that the production is own. It is necessary to show some manufacturing processes and facilities and give guarantee to the customer that he is not buying imported items.
Last but not least, the client wants to know the people who form the company. And it is very important when we go to the "About us" of a site and find there the faces of the employees, with a coherent language and a uniform image.
Connecting Stories is a new editorial space led by PARTTEAM & OEMKIOSKS which consists of conducting exclusive interviews, directed at influential personalities who work in different sectors of activity.
The project, conceived by PARTTEAM & OEMKIOSKS, includes the publication of success stories, through small interviews with influencers who want to share details about their projects, opinions, plans for the future, among other subjects.
The idea is to connect stories, share knowledge, develop networking and generate content that can provide new visions, opportunities and ideas.
Founded in 2000, PARTTEAM & OEMKIOSKS is a world renowned Portuguese IT company, manufacturer of indoor and outdoor multimedia kiosks, self-service equipment, digital billboards, interactive tables and other digital solutions, for all types of sectors and industries. To know more about our story, click here.