With an artistic eye, Portuguese street and travel photographer and blogger Isabel Nolasco captures captivating images through her travels. Isabel currently resides in Lisbon and finds inspiration for her photography through her many adventures. Isabel’s work is multi-dimensional and a direct extension of herself. As you browse through some of the photos from her collection below, I think you’ll agree that she’s quite accomplished at her craft. These images convey her love and passion for her surroundings, while also sharing unique and unexpected moments with her viewers.
Isabel, thank you so much for sharing your experiences with us and thank you so much for all your thoughtful responses. It’s not every day we get a behind the scenes with someone who has such an engaging perspective of the world. You are a fascinating individual and I wish the best of luck to you and on your future projects.
Can you please tell the readers a bit about yourself?
My name is Isabel Nolasco. I’m a Portuguese photographer specialized in street and travel photography.
I graduated in Law and worked in that area for more than 30 years, in Portugal and abroad, mainly in Timor-Leste where I lived for almost 10 years. I’ve worked in the telecoms industry, and also as a legal consultant for the UN and for the National Parliament of Timor-Leste. Finally, I quit my regular job but still work as a freelance legal translator.
As I became more and more interested in photography, I started learning photographic techniques in 2013 at the Instituto Português de Fotografia, in Lisbon. In Timor-Leste, I kept learning with other photographers, attended workshops, and other activities within photography and developed my technical and editing skills.
In 2019 I graduated in a professional photography course at the World Academy Portugal.
Where is home?
Despite having lived abroad for almost 10 years, I´ve always called home the place where my kids live, which is my country, Portugal. I’m based in Lisbon.
What inspired you to be a photographer?
Photography has always fascinated me: the moments captured, its eternal beauty. And I have always enjoyed traveling. Almost a decade ago, I started a new job in Southeast Asia and started traveling even more than I used to. For me, traveling is a joy and also essential. The love for photography was always a part of me, but then became a necessity, and all the paths led me to what would utterly become my journey. I traveled and keep traveling, especially in the Middle East and Southeast Asia where I capture some aspects of these cultures that are still little known and sometimes misinterpreted.
Travel, documentary, and street photography are what I love the most, and to those, I dedicated my first book, “Latitudes da Semelhança” (Latitudes of the Similarity).
Marketing is a crucial component for any professional photographer. How do you go about marketing yourself?
Besides the professional photography course, I also graduated in a professional digital marketing course in 2019 at the World Academy of Portugal. I never intended to work in that area, but I felt the need to apply the knowledge to my work as a photographer. Indeed, I use social media to post my photos and it’s essential to know how to manage and optimize the tools available in order to improve our presence in the digital world.
However, I still believe that a personal approach is still the best tool to grow in social media and build a network, based on great content and close interaction and feedback to our audience.
If there was one thing you would want prospective clients to know about you, what would it be?
I want all my clients to know that I have an easy-going, positive, and flexible attitude. I’m open-minded and think outside the box. And I’m full of energy and always will do my best to accomplish, and even go beyond, their expectations regarding my work.
What type of session do you look forward to the most vs what type of session you most often do?
I wouldn’t call it a session. What I love the most is to capture people in the streets, in their environment and cultures. I’m a candid photography lover and that is what I think I do best. That said, I know that that kind of photography usually doesn’t pay my bills, so what I do most are events and family sessions which I do with full passion and commitment, as I am a professional and know that all types of photography demand my skills and commitment.
What industry sites and blogs do you read regularly? Would any stand out as particularly motivational or inspirational for someone who might be interested in learning about photography?
I subscribed to a few newsletters from photography sites and hubs, like the “British Journal of Photography” and “Aperture Foundation”. I also follow Adobe, Canon, and some photographers’ tips and tutorials about photography. I would highlight the Brasilian photographer “Simxer” for great photoshop tutorials in the Portuguese language. Moreover, I follow great and inspirational photographers and hubs on Instagram (Street Photography International, Steve McCurry, Alan Schaller, etc.)
How did you develop your style?
Actually, it has been a long process. In the beginning, I was more into landscape and nature but, gradually I became more interested in the photos I was taking when the human subject appeared on them. In my travels, I ultimately found out that I really want to capture the human condition, the people, and their cultures and environment. I have been developing a raw and more dramatic look and have started to edit my photos more and more in black and white.
What’s the best part of being a photographer?
The challenge. Unlike other artists, we only have a moment to make our art, to capture an image, and either it´s good or not. There’s nothing we can do to change this. So, the only way forward it’s to improve, to study, to practice, in a nutshell, to get better each day. That’s the best part of being a photographer.
What drives you to create; does it satisfy a need or passion?
My travels and the curiosity to discover other cultures and different people. Nothing is more fulfilling to me. It’s a passion and a need. And if I can capture some fragments of it and show them to the world, I’ll be happy and feel that I am a bit closer to accomplishing my goal of becoming a better photographer.
Who or what inspires you in your personal life and work?
My kids. We have a close and open relationship and they are my ground and role model. I try to be the best and professional person so they can be proud of me.
What is your favorite part of heading out to a new location?
The anticipation. I love to imagine the places before I get there. They seem magical in my head. Sometimes, the reality can be disappointing when compared to what I’ve imagined it. But it has always been worth. And exciting!
Which is your favorite image? Could you explain the background story behind it?
Oh, this one is hard to reply to. I guess every photographer can relate to the struggle to choose photos. But if I have to choose, I´ll have to pick between the best photos I took when I started to make photos knowing what I was doing. It’s not technically perfect, but it’s powerful and illustrates the people of the country where I lived for almost 10 years, in Timor-Leste. These kids were at the hot springs chilling out with their father and I was in the right place at the right time to capture their beautiful expression.
What do you hope viewers take away from your images?
I hope they can read a message of humanity that amongst the diversities, and despite of them, we ought to respect all beings of this world. We are one, and this planet is our home. If I can show it with my photos, I’ll be a better person, and hopefully a better photographer too.
What is your best photography tip?
Practice, practice, practice. Learn from the best by seeing and being inspired by their work. Study and read about photography. Watch classic and great movies. Train your eye to see and compose the images. Be humble. And never quit, even if you are not happy with your photos. You’ll get there, trust me.
What type of camera(s) do you shoot with? What is your favorite lens?
I own a DSLR Canon EOS 5D Mark III and a Leica V Lux-1. Among my several Canon lenses, my favorite two are the Canon EF 24-70mm f/2.8, and Canon EF 16-35mm f/2.8.
What is in your camera bag?
Besides the gear I mentioned above, I travel with a light tripod and a remote shutter. Also, I always bring my Canon EF 50mm f/1.4 in my camera bag, as it’s light and great for some night walks with no extra weight.
What is your favorite photography accessory?
Definitely my camera with my 24-70mm lens.
How important is Photoshop or other image editing software in your final images?
Lightroom is essential for editing my photos as I shoot in raw mode. I use Photoshop less, as my favorite photography subject is the street. But if I make a photo session, like fashion, events, or family-related, I use Photoshop after Lightroom for the final corrections.
Do you have any projects that make you look back and shake your head? What made the experience so unpleasant?
Only once. Some five years ago, I had this photo session with a lady and somehow, I had a problem with my camera and I wasn´t able to make it. She got mad and despite my offering of another free shoot she refused and I never heard of her again. Otherwise, I never had any other issue and all my work has run smoothly.
Was there a point in your journey when you started to feel really good about your work? If so, what did it feel like to get past that “tipping point?”
I started to feel really good about my work when I finally realized what I liked to do best, which is street and people, and I started to get some recognition and positive feedback about the way I captured people and their emotions. That was when I felt I was on the right track.
What are your upcoming travel plans?
I had a trip to Thailand and, from there, to some countries around, starting in May. I´d be traveling for 7 months, until the end of 2020. But, with the Covid19, I had to cancel it and right now I’m not certain about when I will resume my plans and my travel photography work.
Do you have any new projects coming up or plans to expand your portfolio?
I’ve published my first book “Latitudes da Semelhança” early this year. My plans are to have a new book published in 2021 about the work I developed while living in Timor-Leste, together with an exhibition. I am also thinking to have an exhibition in Asia when I’m able to resume my trip. And, when back in Portugal, I’m thinking of ways to present this work in my country.
What do you think the future holds for you? Where do you see yourself in the next few years?
Photography is my life and has been a way to discover both the world and myself. I’m not young anymore. I intend to travel as much as I can and make some documentary photography. The idea is to publish those works, make exhibitions, and hopefully be able to leave my footprint in this art. At least in my own country.
Also, I’m very committed to FPointCollective, a photography project with two women photographers. I hope we can develop the project and make it a reference by promoting photography and photographers around the world.