Anatomy of a Photomontage

"How fast do you want to go?”


Step 1: dig up an old (and boring!) photo taken at Marvão (Portugal)

Marvão, Portugal

Step 2: throw it into Photoshop and beat those pixels up until you squeeze the speed out of it!*

As Frederick Van Johnson, host of the This Week in Photo podcast often says “pixels were born to be punished!"

*(in this case, motion blur, noise, contrast, saturation) 

speed road

Step 3: photograph a cool biker


Step 4: join them together and… BAM!

speed bike photomontage (composite)

Professional Photography


Horror story for photographers.

A few years ago, I was shooting for a commercial client, when I heard a snap inside the camera and felt like something had come loose. The shutter seemed to work, but there was no image, something very wrong had happened!

One of the components inside my Canon 5D, the mirror, had come off and was literally jingling in there!

I carefully removed the lens and it fell onto my hand! At the time my only thought was “this can’t be good…"  

With a smile on my face but trembling inside, I asked my subjects for a minute. (“My camera’s gone, my camera’s gone…! Well, no one here cares, deal with it later!”)

Went over to my bag, grabbed my backup camera et voilà, the session continued.

I found out later that it was a product defect that Canon had already acknowledged and they were repairing these cases for free. Whew!

“But why don’t you have your equipment insured, Gonçalo?”

Because, amazingly, there is no company in Portugal that will do it! (Please let me know if I’m wrong)

To this day my client doesn’t know any of this happened. What he does know is that everything worked out and he got the photos he needed.

Being a professional photographer isn’t just about making great pictures, it’s about solving problems. Better yet, anticipating them. It’s not cheap having two cameras instead of one, but it can save your skin! 


One of the things that makes an athlete a special breed of model is the ability to bring intensity to an image.
Besides having a sculptural body (which is something many other models have), they can pull off poses of such elegance and power that I have a hard time believing we're even from the same species…

And if I need to fine tune their expression, all I have to do is ask them to remember their last training session or the final stretch of a competition… determination will become written all over their face!

It’s not by chance that a lot of the sports stars become photographic models, take Cristiano Ronaldo and Nelson Évora, for example.

Raquel used to be a high class gymnast and although it’s been a while since her last competition, and she’s a bit “rusty” (her words, not mine!), she still looks absolutely superhuman to anyone who can’t take their nose to their toes!

Just a perfect day...

Gonçalo Barriga surf Carcavelos.jpg

I know, I know… I was supposed to be shooting the action, that’s why I came down to Carcavelos on the first day of Capítulo perfeito by Billabong… but check out this sky and this ocean! (in my defense, there are two riders coming out of that break, one to the left, and another to the right!)

And this is actually the upside of shooting on my own time, I can change plans anytime I want! :) 


Sometimes, photographing someone is so much easier if you can add something that is a part of their life. Like a motorbike.

Bruno is a great chef and I’ve shot him in the kitchen several times, but when he told me that he rode a beautiful white Ducati… well, you know… it just had to happen!

By the way, he works at QB Essence in Oeiras, you should really check it out! ;) 

Time & Money

I love Alan Watts's lecture "What if Money Was No Object?"

And every once in a while, I ask myself the difficult question: “if time and money (or any other thing) were no object, what would you like to do in the next few years?”

To make it easier, I sometimes narrow it down: "if time and money (or any other thing) were no object, what would you like to photograph in the next few years?”

When we take out of the way whatever is blocking our dreams (at least in our mind), we’re left with the responsibility to take control over our happiness. Maybe that’s why we always have so many "obstacles"...


Do you know the expression "a file doesn't exist unless it exists in 2 places”?

C'mon people, backup your precious files to a second drive…


"But drives are expensive…"


And how much did that once-in-a-lifetime trip cost? Returning to India anytime soon?…

Not to mention your son's 10 anniversary, are you going to be able to take those photos again if you lose them?


It's a simple process:

1. return home

2. download the photos from the camera to the computer (don't wait until next week, do it now!)

3. copy the files to an external drive

4. format the card in the camera (after checking and double checking that they are safe in your drives)


This is the bare minimum.


If you want to be extra safe, you can also:

5. copy them to a second external drive and keep it at a friend's house (or use an online cloud service, like Carbonite or Backblaze) 

Cool Pet Photo

Smiling Dog Portrait

"Pet portraits? What do you mean?!"

As many of you, I've had pets for as long as I can remember. Actually, when I was a little kid there was a dog that waited for me outside my house and followed me around. It was my "street dog".

I've had dogs, cats, parrots, hamsters, fish...

Pet Photography can be a challenge if you're the owner of the pet...

As I became more and more interested in photography, It was only natural that I started photographing them, of course. Only one small problem… have you ever tried to photograph your own dog?… What happens as soon as you kneel to get to his level?… That's right, he comes straight at you to play!

So… I love animals + I love photography + it's hard to get a decent shot of your pet… hum… Cool Pet Photo in born!

Now I get to photograph different pets all the time! It's sort of like being the uncle that has all the fun with the kids and leaves when things start to get ugly…!

And if you think photographing kids is a challenge, try a cat…

Making the cat look at you at the right moment takes practice and patience

If you want to know more about Cool Pet Photo, head on to our website at and join our Facebook page at

Using studio lighting in Pet Photography