Luís Godinho – Behind every face there is a story

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Ostatnia aktualizacja: 2020-04-22. Autor: Milena

Luís Godinho – photographer, founder of an association DAR that helps African kids. With his approach to life he reminds me that one must act. Instead of sitting and worrying, you can use life 100% and do something good for yourself and for the world.

Do you remember the photo challenge that I recently participated in? It was Luís Godinho who organized it. He inspired me back then and he inspires me in his other activities. Let yourselves be inspired too, it’s worth it!

Enjoy the interview!

Luís Godinho
Luís Godinho

Hello Luís! I’m glad that you agreed for this interview. Tell me – if somebody asked who Luís Godinho is, what would you say?

Luís Godinho was born in March, 1983 in Angra do Heroísmo. He’s a young photographer here in the Azores and in the world. In 2009 he got a bachelor’s degree in environmental engineering at the University of the Azores. At that time he had an opportunity to work for the Azorean government as an engineer. He worked at this position for 8 years. Collaterally he was already dealing with photography. And he decided to follow what was making him happier, which was photography. Now Luís Godinho is a photographer who travels around the world photographing people and stories. At the same time, he’s a founder of an association DAR – Dreams Are Real, which helps kids in Africa.

Let’s start from photography. What does it mean for you to be a photographer?

Photography is my passion, it’s what makes me happy. What makes me be able to sleep few hours and wake up early. It’s something that occupies a lot of my time – because that’s what I want, that’s what I like. But above all, photographing for me means telling stories. From wedding to baptism, a person, a culture, a religion. Yes, above all – it’s telling stories.

Luís Godinho
Photo by Luís Godinho

And why have you chosen photography as your way of communicating with the world?

Communicating through photography of people? Initially, because of my education and the fact that I was living in the Azores, I was photographing landscapes a lot. I liked it a lot. It was also a bit of an escape from me. A way to free myself from my life, from my work life. to escape from the daily routine. It went well. I started travelling to other islands in the Azores as a photographer. I sold many landscape photos, I made many exhibitions. But there was always something missing.

Then I went for a trip to India for the first time and got fascinated by the culture and people. And this is what made me want to photograph people.

I think that behind every face, every person there’s a story. And these stories are interesting, and I tell them through the photographs.

Luís Godinho, Indie
Photo by Luís Godinho

Later I also had a chance to get to know my colleague Rui Caria. He’s a great photographer and my great friend. He is also passionate for documental photography and photojournalism, and he tells stories too. Our proximity and friendship made me like people photography and street photography even more.

In fact, photography is present in the banal things. A curtain in a window, a person on a street hanging laundry. My experiences from the journeys also made me more in love with the street photography, with people, with everything.

A photographer is a person who can see more in the world, as for example this curtain in a window. What can you see in the world that you want to show others?

I think that all the people are capable of seeing these things. But each person is occupied by their daily routine, by their work, their families, their things. Sometimes you can’t see the things that are right in front of you. And perhaps sometimes we, photographers, are there to look for things and that’s why it’s easier for us to find them.

I live in the Azores. There are few people here and the fact that we’re surrounded by the sea made everything more difficult. Everything. Access to things, leaving the islands… When you want to leave the island, you depend on a ferry or a plane and it’s very far away. I think it was limiting us for long time. On the other hand, I think that’s why the Azores have so many artists in many diverse areas. It’s because when you feel a necessity of something, your head wants to create and recreate. You search for solutions.

And the question you asked me – what I see in the world. I don’t really know. For me the best thing in the world is to travel. And when I travel, of course I have my photo cameras with me. And I like to photograph. I like to show people that there are other ways of living, other ways of thinking. And that those people are the same as us. They simply have different cultures, different religions.

Luís Godinho
Photo by Luís Godinho

What I always try to do is not only to tell stories, but to also show people other ways of living, so that they can become better human beings. I want to show people that they may have more sociable ways of living, healthier ones, with fewer wars. Obviously it’s difficult because I won’t change the world. I’d like to, but it’s impossible. But if I can change the world of some people who can change the world of other people, etc., it’s already good.

You’ve almost answered my next question. What do the journeys mean to you?

Yes, that’s a bit of what I’ve already said. For me travelling is the best thing in the world. You have an opportunity to get to know people who have different ways of living and you can share your experience with them. Share religions, cultures, a way of living, different food, different routines… I think that it makes you grow as a person. You become a better person or you should become a better person because you’re given a chance for that.

Luís Godinho
Photo by Luís Godinho

I don’t know if people in other places are right and we’re wrong or we are wrong and they are right. However, when you absorb many things from other cultures, from other people, and introduce them into your life, you can compare them. You can see what’s the best from each of them and what’s the worst, and decide what you want or not for yourself. And I think that it may help you have a more free, healthier, more sociable, happier life. That’s what travelling can bring you.

And what have you brought for yourself?

That’s the journeys that changed my life. Together with my passion, they made me want to be a photographer. As I’ve already said – you get to know different ways of living and you can choose and implement a bit of the best things for you to make all your days happier. I want to look for happiness every day and I think that travelling and photographing may help me a lot with it.

Which of the experiences from your journeys had the biggest impact on you?

All the journeys have stories, many stories. We’d never get out of here if I was to tell you about all of them. (laugh) But to sum up, there were two or three journeys that had the biggest impact on me. The trip to India was the first one. This trip made me realize that I want to photograph people, cultures, tell stories, show also bad things in people’s lives. India fascinated me. That’s why it’s important to me.

But what was the real breakthrough in my life was the journey to Senegal. That was a completely different trip than all the previous ones. I went on a mission Aventura solidária (Adventure of solidarity) with the AMI foundation (Assistência Médica Internacional – International Medical Assistence). The conditions we stayed in, the way we lived there had an enormous impact on my life. It was an impulse for me to be even more willing to leave my job and follow the photography path. Not just because of what I’ve experienced but also because of what it’s brought me on the photographic level. Because of the awards that I’ve got, and there were many of them, some very important.

When you feel what I felt during that journey, that your heart vibrates with it… When you think that it was a good decision to turn to photography… And then you receive a prize for that photography that has already been vibrating in you… It all makes you even happier. It makes you think that you’re on the correct path.

Luís Godinho, Senegal
Photo by Luís Godinho

And where the prizes any useful? Of course they were. You get recognized internationally as a person (some of the prizes were international), but also your work gets recognized. It’s a fruit of your decision. Things are going well and because of that you feel like doing even more.

So, first India changed me, then it was Senegal, then other trips, as for example Indonesia. But also a trip to Mozambique had a big influence on me. It was important for me, because it was the humanitarian mission that we did with my association. I went with some friends who also made that travel special. They also made me feel that it was a correct decision, to found the DAR.*

*“dar” in Portuguese means “to give”

Luís Godinho
Photo by Luís Godinho

Can you say something more about the DAR?

I created the DAR because of Senegal. Because of Senegal and the award that I gained for a photo with a face of a local girl. It made me want to pay that girl back for what she gave me. It was the prestige, the award. I wanted to repay children from that village. That’s why I made a photo exhibition. I sold the photos and for the money I bought school equipment and meds for the village of that girl.

But I thought it was too little. So I thought: why wouldn’t I found an association?

So I’ve founded it. We gave it a name DAR – Dreams Are Real. I gathered together a group of friends from diverse areas. We started small, from virtual adoption of kids. We paid for school, food and health support of kids in Mozambique. And I also thought it was too little. That’s why we made the mission. I gathered together volunteers who financed the mission. It went very well. Later we financed even more schools that were destroyed by the cyclone Idai. This year we’re going for another mission to São Tomé and Príncipe and next year again to Mozambique. We want to continue this work.

And that’s what we do in the DAR. We try to help kids have better future thanks to better education – through arts, sports, social integration. Through these activities we try to make them go to school. It’s not always easy, but we do what we can.

Luís Godinho
Photo by Luís Godinho

The DAR is one of your big projects. How do you choose the projects?

I never think too much about it because I don’t really live thinking about the future. I live more in the present. But without any doubt I want to continue the DAR projects – help kids, finance them. It’s my personal project and it’s a project of the DAR.

In terms of photography, there are a few things that I’d like to do. However, I don’t think too much about them. Things happen in a natural way. There are some journeys that I want to go to. Some are already planned, even for the next year, because I also work as a tour leader, I make trips with groups. But in terms of photography – let’s see what the future will bring.

Let’s talk now about Terceira Island and the Azores. You’ve talked a bit about the fact that the islands were isolated and it was very difficult to get out of here. Now it’s much easier, but these are still islands. What does it mean to you to be Azorean, to be from Terceira Island?

We, the Azorean, are very patriotic. We are local patriots. And it’s healthy patriotism. The Azorean people always have the Azorean flag at home. I think that being Azorean means being different. Not sure if it’s for better or for worse. But we’ve always been affected by cyclones, volcanoes, earthquakes – and it’s a luggage we carry through life. And I think that being from Terceira Island means exactly that.

People from Terceira Island live a lot in the present, they don’t want to know tomorrow.

Today I can drink a beer, tomorrow there’s a party, the day after tomorrow another party, every day there’s a party. It’s a way of living, I think, happily. It’s like: we enjoy today, tomorrow we’ll see. This is how people from Terceira Island live. I think it’s interesting and often correct.

But of course being Azorean is not only being from Terceira. Being Azorean also means having a connection with the sea, with nature, with people, celebrating Espírito Santo (the Holy Spirit festivities). I think that all these connections make the Azorean special. You can say sometimes that maybe we’re not so developed in tourism, that we don’t know how to receive people, that people are not educated… But it’s not true. Because when you go to any island, people make any person in the world feel at home. And people from Terceira Island know it the best.

And about me – the more I travel, the more I’m sure that I want to live in the Azores.

The Azores are the place where I want to be. Especially Terceira. That’s where I recharge baterias. Terceira and a place in São Jorge, Fajã de Santo Cristo, which for numerous reasons is special for me. The more I travel, the more I’m sure that I want to be in the Azores, but the more I also need to get out of here. Maybe it’s because of my life and all the journeys that I’ve made that the island is sometimes too small for me.

And how is to be a photographer here?

It’s difficult. Working as a photographer in the Azores is difficult. It’s a small place and there’s a competition. And I think that it’s a global trend that only a small group of people values and likes arts. Arts generally, photography as one of them.

People now have an easier access to many things. They have mobile phones with cameras, cheap photo cameras in shops. I think that’s why people believe they can photograph on their own. That they don’t need a professional photographer’s service. I respect it, but it’s not really like that. Maybe I can make a bread at home, but I won’t do it as well as a baker who makes it every day.

But I cannot really complain because luckily I have a lot of work and people like my work, which is good. But no, it’s not easy to be a photographer in the Azores.

And which are your favourite places for photographing here in Terceira?

Here on the island I rather photograph at work than for myself. And at work we don’t always go to the places that we like the most. But I really like the landscape in Serra do Cume, it’s so beautiful! It’s beautiful at the beginning of a day, at the end of a day, and the same during a day. It’s an amazing landscape and I really like going there.

Luís Godinho, Serra do Cume
Photo by Luís Godinho

I also like going to the center of the island because it transmits peace. I like to go to a place that I don’t know how to explain where it is. I call it a magical forest or an enchanted forest because I think it’s peaceful and zen. I like this place with sunlight and with fog. I like going there not only to photograph, but also to absorb that peace at the same time.

What’s important for you in life?

I can summarize it in one word – happiness. If you want me to say more, I think it’s important to enjoy every moment of your life as if it was the last one.

Nobody should think they will die tomorrow or that something will happen but the bad things don’t happen only to other people. Unluckily, people normally need something negative to happen in their lives to change the way they live. But it’s not necessary.

You don’t need to lose anybody, you don’t need to have an accident, you don’t need bad things in your life to change yourself.

Luís Godinho
Photo by Luís Godinho

Many people are not who they think they should be. Or they don’t do what they want to. And I am happy because I do what I want. I always say that for me photography is not work, it’s a pleasure, because I do it with passion. I’d like all young people to be able to do what they like because it’s priceless.

But above all, I think that everybody should include their personality in their everyday life. That is, they should try to live in a free and open way, and do what they want. And at the same time try to always give the best of them. Sometimes people depend a lot in their lives on others. On what other people can think or not about them. And you need to think about what you consider the best for you every day. And you need to respect others, it’s very important, but you also need to respect yourself. You need to try to be happy every day because life is short. We should enjoy it the best way that we can.

So what makes you happy?

Travelling, photographing…

And can you say that you follow your dreams?

It’s like that… Of course we always have lots of dreams. They change with our life. When we are small, we want a toy. We dream about a PlayStation, about a bicycle. Then we want to become vets, doctors, nurses. With time, our dreams get fulfilled differently.

I can say that I realized many of my dreams, but not all of them yet. My biggest dream is to go around the world, get to know all the countries in the world. I don’t know if I’ll manage to do that or not, but I’m not really worried because I will try one day at a time [LINK] and we’ll soon see what will happen.

The last question – how would you like to be remembered as a person and as a photographer?

I leave it to other people, I don’t worry too much about it. I’d like to be remembered as somebody who did good things in his life. Could it be by the photography or by what I’m doing now with the DAR, I don’t know. I don’t live obsessed with what other people think of me and I hope I never will. I just want to leave good things behind me.

So good luck with that! Thank you for the interview.

Thank you.

Luís Godinho
Photo by Luís Godinho

Useful links:

Luís Godinho – website
Luís Godinho – Facebook
Luís Godinho – Instagram
DAR – Dreams Are Real – Facebook

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