LISBON—The Portuguese photographer Pauliana Valente Pimentel, 37, sits on a leather chair in Galeria das Salgadeiras in Lisbon. She has come from yet another business trip; this time from Athens.
Traveling is one the main reasons she ended up having a career in photography.
“I graduated in geology when I was 18 years old. At that time, I was taking pictures as a hobby,” she says. “What I liked the most, and the reason I took up geology, was that I liked to travel around the world.”
Pimentel started taking photography more seriously when she attended a photo workshop in Lisbon, held by a magnum photographer David Alan Harvey. He liked her photos and stayed at the promising photographer’s house for ten days when finishing his book. They spent the days taking pictures and Harvey became her mentor.
Soon Pimentel was able to combine her love for travel and photography in the travel magazine Grande Reporgem.
“My first story was about Iran, this was in 2000. That’s when I started to earn money from my photographs.”
The photos she took in Iran were about the daily life of people and also the scenery of the country.
After starting to earn money through photography, she attended several photography workshops abroad. She was still working on her Master’s in geology until 2005. That year, she got into a three month art photography course held by Fundação Calouste Gulbenkian, the most important artistic foundation in Lisbon.
It was an important time for Pimentel as a photographer because she started to think more about her and her personal work, focusing not on what a magazine wanted from her but what she would like to photograph.
“I did some work about my best girl friend, so I followed her. This was my first personal work,” she says.
People and their daily lives became her biggest inspiration. She describes her working methods as very intuitive. Usually she just follows her subject.
“When I start photographing, I need to have a connection. I have to like the people, otherwise I will lose interest.”
One of the most difficult projects the photographer has done is her project about transsexual prostitutes in Lisbon.
“Every time I passed them when I was younger, I was very curious because, in a way, they are very beautiful.”
It wasn’t until 2011 she had the courage to go and talk to them. She shot them during night time but some of the prostitutes let her inside their homes. She says that’s what she really likes in photography; to slowly enter another world and take the most beautiful thing from there.
The past few years of the financial crisis have been difficult for the artists in Portugal. To Pimentel, struggling is not new. As a freelancer, she never knows where the money will come from next. However, she says that daily work doesn’t appear like it used to.
“Two years ago, normally I received a phone call every week to take a picture of an artist or a concert, for example.”
Having to fight for money is not all bad, according to her.
“When you have to fight to have the money, you have to have ideas.”
Pimentel says she thinks that the municipality of Lisbon doesn’t “give a shit” about the anguish of the artists during this crisis. Nobody gets any money from it.
In fact, although Athens is the main crisis area of Europe, she says that its artists have it better than fellow artists in Lisbon. She says musicians receive more money from concerts and they have more support from the state.
In the future, Pimentel will continue working both abroad and in Lisbon. She has always been very adventurous but since becoming a mother she is not as wild as she used to be. She gives an example from Mali.
“I was with Tuareg people in the desert for 15 days and I did 500 kilometers by camel disguised as a Tuareg. So, I’m a bit crazy.”
More photo and info on Pauliana V. Pimentel in: http://www.kameraphoto.com/kphotographers/work.php?lang=en&artistID=6
Pauliana V. Pimentel
- Born in 1975 in Lisbon
- Freelance photographer since 2000
- Belongs to the photo collective Kameraphoto
- Produced her first own book ‘VOL I’ in 2009
- Represented by Galeria das Salgadeiras in Lisbon