Interview with José Ramos, landscape photographer from Portugal, made by Viewbug

Viewbug Interview

I’ve been interviewed by Viewbug .

Here is a transcript of the interview:

1. Tell us a bit about yourself, how do you describe your photography style?

My name is José Ramos, and I’m a 32 years old photographer from Portugal. I mostly shoot long exposure landscape photos, which is the genre that fascinated me the most since I’ve ventured into the craft. Portugal has one of the most beautiful coastlines in the world, facing west, where sunsets are usually intense and captivating, adorned by our wonderful beaches. Considering that I’ve always been fascinated by nature, it was a natural step to move to this style of photography. I could also say that my photos are “conceptual”, as each of them as an embedded reflection associated and triggered by the image. Besides being a photographer, I’m also a MD/Psychiatrist, so I guess it would be inevitable to extend the creative process to the existential and conceptual approach.

2. In one sentence what has photography done for you in your life?

Photography as brought me the most precious gifts: awareness of the infinite beauty of nature and inner growth through its endless teachings.

3. When did you start taking photos and what inspired you to get started?

I started shooting 10 years ago, and it all started in the usual way, with the purchase of a compact digital camera, with the sole purpose of taking snapshots of the important moments in life. Quite spontaneously I also ended up shooting scenes merely by its aesthetic value, and one day someone suggested me to post the picture on Deviantart. I was astounded when I started receiving feedback on my images and when I found incredible images by other photographers. I was hooked since then, and so here I am today replying to this interview!

4. Do you have any influencers?

I could mention a long list of great photographers, but that would be unfair. My influencers are the dozens of amazing images I see every day on several photographic communities online. It’s an humbling and inspiring experience to see the incredible quality of today’s photography.

5. What has been your favorite shoot and why?

Extremely tough call! I could name my favorite shoot in terms of output quality or in terms of emotional ressonance. Photography has given me so many moments of pure “bliss”… Perhaps I should name the week I spent in Madeira Island (Portugal) in 2013 and the week I spent in Iceland this year. Both of them were absolutely immersive experiences (specially the Iceland trip), where everything was centered in nature.

6. Do you remember a difficult photo shoot session? What happened?

I can remember many, as any session which involves extreme cold, strong winds, rain and/or savage sea will most probably be a difficult photo session. Doing landscape photography involves a significant amount of physical risk, and there are many times when the impulse to get the image might cross the line of safety. To give you an example, I’ll choose to quote a description from one of my photos made in Jokulsarlon beach, Iceland: After one more night sleeping inside the car, with freezing cold outside, the phone alarm starts ringing. It’s still night, even though there’s already a faint blue line in the horizon, announcing the arrival of the sun. My body is warm, tucked inside the sleeping bag, and my conscience is still numb. I rarely wake up this soon, as I’m more of a night owl, and the temperature difference must be gigantic, but I’m at Jokulsarlon… I’m not at home, I’m not at some vacation resort, I’m not still dreaming… This is Jokulsarlon, and for the first time I’ll finally photograph one of the most incredible beaches in the world.

And so it begins. Base layer (old school tshirt), second layer, third waterproof layer. The sky is becoming brighter. Can’t miss sunrise. Neoprene pants, neoprene boots. Wool cap, wool face cover, tactile gloves. Brighter. Can’t miss sunrise. Baby towel wipe, tooth brushing, deodorant. Can’t miss sunrise! Very strong cold coffee, cleaning filters, gear setup and checking. Can’t miss sunrise, and off we go!

Once more, the intense excitement of being in such an amazing place, a true paradise for landscape photographers and beauty appreciators. The beach is everything I imagined it would be, perhaps larger, with more “chunks” of ice than I thought. The wind is blowing strong and the sea is wild. I know I keep repeating this, but this was yet another extremely difficult place to photograph.

First there are way too many possible good compositions, and beauty overload can easily wreak havoc inside a landscape photographer’s brain. Then the salty water spray is strong and almost constant, even more intense than in portuguese beaches. As if this wasn’t enough, those stubborn pieces of ice can’t keep still for more than some seconds! I’m know I’m sounding a bit negative, but the truth is that I just loved it!

7. what do you carry in your camera bag?

I’m currently carrying the following: Sony a77 canera, Sigma 10-20mm f4-f5.6 lens, Sony 18-250mm lents, Sony 50mm f1.8 lens, several Formatt Hitech filters, Manfrotto 055XPRO3 tripod, Terrascape filter bag, Giottos rocket blower, large cleaning microfiber cloths, remote wireless shutter, spare batteries, memory cards, lantern, ipad mini, knife and lots of positive vibes!

8. Do you have a favorite subject to shoot?

Definitely remote and beautiful beaches, with exquisite rock formations.

9. Do you have a favorite location and time of the day to shoot?

My favorite location (besides all the incredible Iceland spots), due to its uniqueness and photographic potential, would have to be the Carrasqueira palafite peer in the south or Portugal. The favorite time of the day is definitely sunset, not only due to its warm light, but also because I’m a night owl and it’s not easy to get up for sunrises!

10. What are you currently working on?

The last months, both before and after the Iceland trip, have been quite busy. I’ve received lots of new gear from my sponsors/backers and I’m planning on writing some field reports about my experience with the gear. I’ve also just finished a text for a photography magazine about tripods, as well as prepared a portfolio for another magazine. I’m also currently in the process of selecting some works for representation by a gallery curator.

One thing which has been keeping me extremely busy is the remake of my website. I was unhappy with my previous working platform (Zenfolio), due to very bad SEO implementation, so I’ve moved to a wordpress platform, which is naturally much more complex. Still some things to fine tune, but it’s almost finished (

Finally, there’s the endless backlog of images to select, edit and publish. I have images to be published from the last 6 years of shooting, but time doesn’t stretch as much as I wanted to. Right now I’ve commited to finish publishing all the wortwhile photos from Iceland, and only then will move on to publishing photos from other locations.

11. Can you share a couple of tips with your fellow photographers?

Regarding technical aspects, if you want to do long exposure landscape photography, make sure you purchase a proper tripod with decent ergonomics, or each session will become a nightmare. Also, if you wish to come home with one-shot properly exposed captivating images, make sure to take your ND filters with you. Regarding the emotional and conceptual side of things, always remember it’s not you who is capturing nature, it’s rather nature capturing you. Having this in mind will make the whole process much more intense and rewarding.

12. Please share some thoughts on your ViewBug experience as a photographer!

Viewbug is an absolutely thriving community which offers the best photo contests in the whole web. There’s nothing like it, and I’m finding myself spending more and more time on it. Wish you guys fantastic success!