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!

Give me time to breathe!

Is creativity in photography being fueled by technology or, on the contrary, is it being limited by it's speeding growth?

Of course we can do a lot more with all the new tools and their enhanced capabilities (sensors low light specs and image quality these days are opening a whole new world of photographic possibilities), but can we keep up and still produce meaningful and well thought out work? I mean, do we even have the time to create anything if we're to keep up to date with all the new gear? Not to mention the dozens of post processing software and millions of filters and effects available!

I'm all for evolution and I love having this amazing power to photograph in near pitch dark conditions, live view, video, 10 frames/sec, etc, etc, etc… but as soon as I start to feel comfortable with my camera, there's already another one out that supposedly renders it obsolete!

Art needs the help of tools to materialize, of course, but artists and creatives need to mature (at least a little!) with these tools before moving on. Otherwise, it feels like fast food is being shoved down our throats!

My other pet peeve is the way we casually consume art online (yes, I'm included!)

A photographer I admire said recently that we have developed the ability to quickly look at and visually process a large number of images as we flip through them online. I beg to differ… I think we look at a ton of images everyday (social media, online magazines, photo sites…), yes, but do we really look at them? No. Not in the sense that we give them any bit of thought other than "nice", "hum", "cool", "good one"… we're always in a kind of a hurry to get to the next image. Maybe because they're infinitely available online! And maybe that is limiting our ability to tell apart good photography from… hum… how shall I put it… "less good" photography?

I guess this is one of the reasons why I love printed photos. There's time.