On The EDGE: Maria João Arcanjo

On The EDGE: Maria João Arcanjo

So that none of the past experiences are lost and from them one can evolve to a better world. That is why photography must be interesting, narrative and compelling, so that people keep looking and learning.


© Maria João Arcanjo. All rights reserved.

Q1: Please state your name and occupation, please. Where do you live?

A: My name is Maria João Arcanjo and I am retired (retired from my job, not from my LIFE!). I live at Oeiras- Cascais  ( in the Great Lisbon Area).

Q2: Welcome to The One Photo Interview, by the way. It is the TOP Interview. Do you know what that means? It means that you will only have the opportunity to show one single photograph and you will refer to that for the rest of this interview, right? Would that be ok with you?

A: I will try-:)))

Q3: Any particular reason for taking that picture?

A: The photo was taken in the streets of Lisbon. The reason  was quite simple, and it is almost always the same:

The almost  theatrical aspect of the street life is very  very  attractive to me. This was what provoked the click.  The movement and interaction between all the elements of the picture: between the personages (all of them  existing in  very particular places all of them very important)  give strength  to the picture and enrich the narrative aspect of it.

Q4: Is this your style of street photography then? Do you think you have a style? If so, what is it?

A:  I do not think of myself as having a style. May be the viewers attribute me with a style,  but that doesn’t  bother me or conditions my click. But Yes probably by being attracted by the scenic sense of what I see in my way around  town  directs my lens  in a particular way that some people may recognize as a style.

Q5. Tell me what is street photography? Have you got a definition? Let’s hear it!

A: I wonder ….. I have no  definition for it. It seems  to me the simple capture of the everyday life in  the streets.  The great challenge is to be able to capture the particular  interest of the most simple things.

Q6: Give me some basics. How long have you had an interest in street photography? Do you hav0e any mentors that you have learned from?

A: My interest on street photography  emerged when I took conscience of the “others”. Very early in life, I have to say(it doesn’t mean  that  I started  doing it  long ago). I had a very rich  education on this matter  being a granddaughter of a great journalist, and daughter of a man of  extensive  culture.  Since I was very young I had access to an important library  which included the most beautiful photography  books  of the masters .Always fascinated  by them!

I do not have a mentor for sure. I have plenty of people  who did  or does  street photography that interests me a lot  like Elliot Erwitt  and  Dorothea Lange( that my father introduced to me  very early).

Q7: Let’s talk about equipment. Some have an almost religious addiction to it. Long lenses, short lenses, rangefinders, non rangefinders, compacts. Leicas, Canons, Nikons, analog or digital. What is your opinion of this? What is your preferred gear? Don’t be boring when you answer this, please.

A: I shoot with what I have. My  first camera was given to me by a friend. I didn’t choose it. Since then I have  been attached to the same brand because of the lenses. I use a DSLR and I prefer fixed  lenses  even if most of the times I use  my dear 24/70mm or the 14/24 depending on the subject.

Q8: Are there any particular reason why you call yourself a street photographer? Many people picture landscapes, seascapes, birds caved in. Do you take such pictures as well? What I mean to ask is, do you in fact do much parrot shooting in the zoo. Or similar non street themes. Do you?

A: I do not call myself  anything. People call me… based on the work I show. I photograph people in their daily life in the streets. That include my portraits. They are street portraits.

Although I keep my focus on people I do photograph other subjects  like animals. I photograph them exactly the same way I photograph people :in their quotidian. I do enjoy the interaction  animal/ animal and people /animal and people / people. I do love to find similarities in behaviors and expressions.-

Q9: Do you know what is the difference between photography and plain picture taking? If so, tell me what it is.

A: For me   there are only  2 types of photography: the narrative and the descriptive  ones.

Q10: Why do you think that all the best street photos are shot in black & white? How do you explain that?

A: I do not think that. I love bw images that provides you all the essential  information without distraction. But some photos are better in color  One must decide how to show them.

Q11: Do you think that street photography is a serious type of photography? Can anything good come of it? How do you see this?

A:  Street photography is essential .As it portrays  a country  and  its people it can have great importance in many aspects.

Q12: Are there any value in street photography you think, besides your own enjoyment?

A: I do a lot of street photography, people being my focus. My attention is grabbed by simple people whom I take by surprise in my quotidian since I am deeply interested in the human nature and I derive pleasure in the contacts thus established. Photos are but a small portion of what remains from these moments of shared emotions (mine and others’) For me photographing in the streets are not only a pleasure but also the the way I learn about life: mine and the others.

Q13: Your vision? What is your vision for European street photography? What is the vision for your own photography? I am not going to ask how you see the future, but tell me anyway.

A: Do not ask me about the future. The only thing I know is about the past cause  the present is  almost inexistent: as it lasts only the time of the click.

My idea about photographing is exactly that: to photograph the elusive present to show it as past in the future eheheheheh. This responds to the next question -:)))

Q14: One last question: What is the most important thing with a photograph? With any photograph?

A:  Because the importance of a photo is to feed the memory. And I mean the world memory. So that none of the past experiences are lost and from them one can evolve to a better world. That is why photography must be interesting, narrative and compelling, so that people keep looking and learning.

Q15: Is it true then that street photography was invented in Europe?

A: Who cares. These things just happen, they are not invented. At least with the attitude of  inventing it. I think  the tagging  comes á posteriori  from the observers point of view. It is a bit like the egg and the chicken  thing!

Thank you very much, Maria João Arcanjo. Much obliged. Will you see yourself out?

© Knut Skjærven. All rights reserved.
First published April 10, 2017.

#theedge #ontheedge #newstreetagenda #oneverystreet #mariajoaoarcanjo  #knutskjærven #knutskjaerven #streetphotography

About author

Knut Skjærven

Knut Skjærven is a Norwegian photographer, writer and researcher working out of Copenhagen, Denmark.

Related Articles