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José Carlos Costa

From an early age I felt a compulsory need to express myself artistically. Only the discovery of photography as artistic expression has filled that gap. Photography is my passion … is the “place” where I climb mountains without feeling tired… where I spend 24 hours without looking at the clock… However, the camera and digital darkroom are mere tools (such as paints and brushes to a painter) to express the way I feel the world. So I invite you to see the world through my eyes. My photos are not meant to reveal the places I visit as any tourist can view them, but to express my feelings in those moments, to capture the essence of those places. I do not intend to escape from reality but to present a parallel reality, different from that split of a second that we generally call objective reality (if that even exists).

The use of long exposures allows me to focus on the essentials. Imagine a black canvas where the trifling is hidden, allowing the light to shine and shape the objects – that would be my picture. As more surreal and dramatic is the final image, closer I will be to achieve my artistic vision. Every step away from reality approaches me of my artistic essence. Each image created, since the vision, through the click, until the final processing, is soaked with a fragment of me, of my personality… of my soul! For that, I need to feel the place I photograph with my eyes, heart and mind open… when it comes the time to press the shutter the final image is already in my mind. The processing is the final step to put a piece of me, of my style, of my way of feeling that moment… in the work created. At the end I will be successful in my request if I was able to transform what I saw with my physical eyes into what I saw with my mind’s eye.

In my natural evolution as a photographer/artist, the black and white photos are gaining prevalence. As the master Ansel Adams once told “what I like about black and white photographs is that they are more like reading the book than seeing the movie”. The black and white gives wings to the imagination… by forgetting the direct appeal of colour we are allowing our mind to wander in quest of other realities, focusing only on the light, shadow, lines, shapes, textures…! However, I can never consider myself as a black and white photographer because my photography is like two sides of the same coin, they reveal two facets of my way of seeing life… sometimes bright and cheerful as the spring and autumnal colours of a landscape from “Peneda-Geres National Park” or mysterious and introspective as a black and white long exposure of the morning or ocean mist.

Being a scientist, this artistic vision may seem contradictory, but photography is precisely my escape from the stressful everyday life, is where I refuge myself in direct contact with nature and with my subconscious. You can also find in my picture all sorts of connections to science, from my favourite element (water), passing through the use of many different geometric shapes, lines, etc., until the attempt to represent four dimensions (width, height, depth and time) in a 2-dimensional printing.

Who was never near the sea and, closing his eyes, felt abstracted from everything around, focusing only on the gentle sound of the waves breaking? That moment, where time stops and where for a fraction of second, everything becomes ethereal, unreal and where we can by one moment touch the infinity… That is what I ultimately intend to capture in the photographs I create… that is the beauty of life…! Did I already achieve that? Probably not… but I will always carry on this quest by my Holy Grail… In the day that you feel, as a viewer, one slice of emotion while seeing one of my images will be the day where I feel accomplished as a photographer/artist.


José Carlos Costa was born in 12.08.1978 in Braga (Portugal). Being the youngest of a family of 11 brothers, “superfluous” expenses were obviously left behind and, therefore his first priority was to invest in academic training. Despite the long passion for photography, his first camera (a compact) was only acquired at age 20 with the scholarship savings. Despite its obvious limitations this served to irreversibly increase his addiction for photography. In 2009, after finishing his PhD in Chemical and Biological Engineering, he acquired his first Canon DSLR that allowed him to broaden horizons. Currently the photography occupies almost all his free time, searching for developing his technical and above all his creative aspects. In constant quest for his own style, nature photography, mostly involving his favourite element, water, and long exposure techniques are the base of his work.

“Cameras and lenses are simply tools to place our unique vision on film… Concentrate on equipment and you will take technically good photographs… Concentrate on seeing the light’s magic colors and your images will stir the soul!”

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