Who said mixing work and pleasure was Mission: Impossible? At just 25, Ben Pinto(@ben.pinto) is brilliantly proving otherwise! This student from Lisbon spends his free time building a community of passionate photographers and travelers. He took some time on his busy schedule to tell us more about his passion and upcoming projects. If you’re planning a trip to Portugal, bookmark this article for some great tips on what to see! 

Who are you, Ben? Tell us a bit more about yourself! 

I’m 25 years old, and I live in Lisbon, Portugal. I started doing photography as a hobby. I love traveling and being able to keep a memory of it. When I’m not out and about photographing things, I study nutrition, and this year is my last one. 

How do you manage your time between your different occupations? 

I usually try to stay pragmatic and focus on my future. Even though photography is a fascinating activity, I need to understand how I see myself professionally and reach my goals. Right now, my priority is nutrition, but whenever I have free time, I’m either photographing, editing things, or taking care of my Instagram by posting and replying to messages.

What is the first memorable moment you had as a photographer? 

When I started falling in love with photography, I was only doing it for fun. But one day, I traveled to Venice, and something about that city just made me even more passionate about photography. I started posting about Venice on social media, and seeing the interactions that it created gave me a sense of pride. It was nice knowing that people enjoyed my work. Their responses made me think that maybe I wasn’t only destined to study and that I should probably also invest more time in photography. It was a turning point because it’s the moment I started seeing more value in my work. It encouraged me to do more and better. 

 

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Une publication partagée par Ben Pinto (@ben.pinto)

What is one thing that only a few people know about Lisbon? 

The one thing you will see for yourself is that this city is not easy to see. I guess what I’m saying is if you’re coming, bring some good walking shoes and get ready to put in the leg work because this city will drive you out of energy! The seven hills are no joke! Another thing people often don’t realize until they get here is that the Portuguese are a warm people: we love and embrace tourists so much! We want them to leave our cities, and our country as a whole, with the best opinion ever. And it’s not about the fame, but because we want them to have a great experience.

If we were to travel to Portugal for a week only, which itinerary would you recommend? 

It depends on how much you want to see, but I’d say that the three main parts of Portugal are the south, the center, and the north. If you’re a fan of beaches, coastlines, and sunrises, the region of Algarve should be on top of your list. Once you finish exploring the south, you can move up to the center. This part of the country has plenty of cute small towns, but if you’re coming for the first time, I would recommend going to Lisbon first and maybe explore the rest on a separate trip. I would say that visiting Lisbon requires a good four days: three days for the city itself and one additional day for Sintra. Oh, and make sure to have the Pena Palace on your list of must-sees! After Lisbon, you should head to Porto. I might be from Lisbon, but Porto holds a special place in my heart. The best way to explore it is to get lost in its streets! A sunset in Ribeira, the district where the famous bridge of Porto lies, is a great way to finish the day. You should have more than enough to fill a week-long trip with this, but if you’re planning on coming back later, Madeira and the Azores are also worth a visit!

 

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How would you define your visual identity?

I would say I’m more of a street photographer, but I think part of my identity comes from the color tones I capture. For instance, if you pay attention, you won’t find any blue skies in my work. Most of them are white. That’s a pattern that I want to keep in my photos to guarantee that the focus remains on buildings and lights coming from the sky. Because for me, beauty is in architecture. I also like to go for a narrow composition, and that’s why I crop my photos: it’s a way to avoid distraction.

What elements make you want to capture a moment/place instead of another one?

One of the things I try to take into account is people and how much is present. If I find a place that I’d like to photograph, I’ll try and make sure to wait so that it is less crowded. I also pay attention to how open the place is: for example, if the sky ratio is more important than the building ratio, I’m usually not interested.  

 

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Une publication partagée par Ben Pinto (@ben.pinto)

Have you ever considered turning your passion for photography into a professional activity?

I have thought about doing so part-time, and I’m currently working towards that goal, as I’m planning on selling my prints this summer. I’m also working on a travel-related app that I’ll be launching later this year. 

You recently published a travel guide about Lisbon, your hometown. How did you come up with the idea, and what’s your favorite thing about it?

Two elements, in particular, made me want to create this guide. The first one is how often people would ask me questions about what to see in Lisbon. I thought to « What if I could create a tool for everyone to see the best places to photograph around Lisbon? ». This guide is also a way for me to channel how much passion I have for my city, and somehow help it by encouraging tourism. I have to say that, whether it was for Lisbon, Porto, Rome or any city that I’ve written about, there’s no better reward than putting in hours of work and seeing how many people end up finding it handy. Their reactions have been so warm and thankful. In the beginning, some of them even made me tear up! Being recognized for something that you never thought you’d get recognition for is wonderful.

 

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Une publication partagée par Ben Pinto (@ben.pinto)

What are the cities that you plan on writing about next?

The upcoming guides will be about Italian cities for sure, and I’ll probably also make one about Barcelona later.

Do you think that also creating written content has become essential for photographers? 

I don’t think that it’s mandatory. At the end of the day, if you want to focus on photography and only publish small captions, you can. I create written content because I love it. To me, it’s about creating a community and bonding with people all around the world. I consider captions as a way to reach out and get the conversation started. I consider myself a very outspoken person, and I want to make sure that I’m consistent with this aspect of my personality online. The same thing goes for my DMs. I make sure to reply to every single message that I receive. Unless, of course, it’s from a bot!

Which projects do you have in mind for the next few months?

I don’t know how much I’ll be traveling in the next few months, but in the upcoming years, you can expect more photos, as well as prints for sale. The places that I plan on capturing soon are Amsterdam and London. I was planning on visiting New York, but I’m not sure that it’s in the cards for 2021, so maybe next year. I’m going to keep working on my app. I also want to launch a website where people will have access to city guides and blog posts in which I share more of my experience as a traveler.