Francisco Azevedo is a thirty-five years Portuguese photojournalist, borned in Espinho.
You can find him here:
Francisco has a older sister, Ana who became an architect but nowadays works at one big communication agency. His father is Alfredo and he is an Quality manager and council and his mother, Fátima was civil engineer at city hall and teacher at Faculdade de Engenharia da Universidade do Porto. He has a passion for photography, books, dogs and nature. Graduated in hospitality management founded Focal Point – Fotografia in the first day of August 2012.
Photography has made an invasion in December 2008 after a vacation in Barcelona with his own first camera: Canon 450D. His passion for medicine and health issues took him to University of Porto (Facudade de Medicina do Hospital de São João) for a sixteen-hour journey of “Medical and Scientific Photography” with professor José Paulo Andrade, where he met incredible people: Ana, Artur, Cátia, Filipa, Wilson and Verónica. He works regularly for Espinho city hall, parish council, academy of dance MTV Dance Kids, Escola de Bailado Adriana Domingues and two local journals: Defesa de Espinho and Maré Viva. Since he founded Focal Point he worked in several areas: social, sports, politic campaigns and fashion.
He loves to shoot in the streets and public transports such as train. His passion for poetry and reading took him to launch his own blog “O Obturador do Pensamento” or in English “The Shutter Thought” where he shares some of his photos and poetry. Inside of the blog he has an interview rubric called “Obturar falando”, fifteen questions. Since January 2017 the blog has reached forty thousand visits. He has a dog – golden retriever Bianca and is probably the most photographed dog on earth (smiles!!!).
Francisco never misses the opportunity to learn, he´s heading to a three-day journey about Photojournalism in Coimbra with major photographers. Has the chance to be friend of great photographers who lead him to a better level. He has a major respect for Ansel Adams, Sebastião Salgado. He has the luck to be friend of some great Portuguese photographers like António Canelas – his master – Daniel Rodrigues (World Press Photo 2013), Alfredo Cunha who have made part of 25th April 1974 as a photographer inside the revolution and Pedro Matos.
- Hi Francisco, how long have you been working as a freelancer now?
Hello 🙂 Since the opening moment of Focal Point. I believe that life challenges you since the day you born. Let´s face it: when we born our first challenge is cry to get people attention, then you give your first baby steps, you learn to walk then you try to run as many as you can. I believe that the first two years of Focal Point were difficult, many of my friends and family tried to advise me to give up but the only thing that makes me smile is to show them how they were wrong. My parents had helped me building the future but they knew (with visible results) that I was heading to a new level. I don´t give up even though some people left me behind, I´m a fast learner, a curious person. I believe that photography and Arts in general will always be a freelance area. You can do several things and you are not “stuck” to companies. I can shoot studio by the morning, cover a football match in the afternoon and cover a concert in the evening. It´s pure magic, and of course, you have more time for your personal projects. A few hours ago I went to the local team stadium to shoot specifically their team supporters. It´s a project named “Nem toda a gente percebe…” “Only few ones would understand…”, a black and white project using my Canon 6D and 24-105 L / 70 – 200 L.
- What inspired you to become a freelancer? Did you think about it for a long time or did your decision come suddenly?
I´ve graduated in Hospitality Management but since the day I founded Focal Point I knew that my “day would come”. I used to say that – Focal Point is a serious thing! The best thing to be a freelancer is that you have the chance to do what you love. I believe that you can be a better professional doing things with a smile. I´m always happy when I´m photographing, just for instance: this last Saturday (fourteen of April) it was a long day, started in Casa da Música – Porto covering TEDx, then I went to a dermatology Clinique launch and then I went to Casino de Espinho to cover MTV Dance Kids performance.
- How did you gain your first customers?
My first customer was the local city hall, Espinho. I´ve started to give them my photos of the events and they saw something in my point of view. I know that “local saints don´t make miracles” but when i´m working for the city hall and the parish council I feel an incredible energy, from a job to another I feel I can and i´m better. It took me a while to reach my goals and I know that life has reserved a good future for me because I work hard and I’m never satisfied.
- Who has been your greatest inspiration?
I believe that Daniel Rodrigues made in enormous impact on my vision of photography. He was facing a difficult situation although he was a great student in IPF (Instituto Português de Fotografia), had to sell his own photography equipment to face daily quotes. Went to Guinee in a humanitarian mission and made incredible photos of kids playing football in the dust. He won a prize in World Press Photo – Daily Life – and his life changed. I´ve had the chance to learn with him about street photography and that life can change you all in a day.
- John Wanamaker said: Half the money I spend on advertising is wasted; the trouble is, I do not know which half. Do you gain your clients by advertising or in another way?
Yes. I believe that my life as a photographer wouldn´t be the same without a few € spent in advertisement. The best publicity is “mouth to mouth” but let´s face it, if a person doesn´t like you… Every time I answer to a client / potential I try to show him how different I am from the others. Every budget is a different budget. Try to offer them what I know that others can´t do. I use Facebook and OLX Portugal for advertisement but from time to time I create a PDF item and send it to some clients / potential such as hospitals, clinics, city halls, schools or academy.
- Do you hire outsourcing service providers for services, which you believe are a waste of your time?
I strongly believe that a great team can be even better with professionals of several areas. I do shoot photography but I don´t have the skills to shoot a great video. Since the day I created Focal Point had the chance to work with incredible people, and I am aware of their knowledge and value for the final product. Just for instance: the last year I was hired to the wedding of a great friend and she asked me if I know how to do a video. The first thought was no! I have the best video shooter in town. I´ve hired Filipe Couto who is an amazing story creator in motion. Each one of the team members has different skills, different ways of shooting but the “cake” we can mix together increases the value for the final client. Pedro Fonseca can aggregate landscape and social photography in just one which his great. I´m a social and spontaneous photographer, I can predict the best smile, the most significant tear drops on a wedding.
- How does your typical working day look like? What do you do when you are not working? How many hours/days per week are you working? What do you do in your free time?
One answer at a time 🙂 a normal day at back office is a eight-hour journey where I do some research in photography, edit photos and prepare the next event coverage. From time to time I stay in my hometown to a meeting or to cover an event. Since I´m working as a freelancer photographer it depends, but it´s not strange if I told you that I have fifty-hour scheduled for city hall. My hobbies are simple: jogging or walking with my dog, seat and read a book – poetry lover – writing some music and listen to Jazz. I play golf since I was a little guy, have 14.2 handicap and play with my parents and their friends on the oldest Iberia Peninsula – Oporto Golf Club. I won the Dockery Cup which is the second oldest trophy at the club.
- What would you do differently if you would start again?
I´m a person who don´t like to watch the dark side of the moon (smile!) but I would change a few things if life took to the first day of Focal Point or even backward. First of all I would change some steps on my graduation: a challenge inside communication and in photography – mainly. I wouldn´t do some event coverages and for sure I wouldn´t give opportunities to some people.
- Entrepreneurs have many things in common. They read a lot. What about you? What are your favorite books?
Every book has an impact in our life. Since I am a Macintosh user I devoured Steve Jobs book, as a musician I enjoy to read some biography. On the poetry section I´m reading “Poesia” from Eugénio de Andrade, a genius in Portugal.
- What was the best business advice you received? Do you have any advice for other freelancers?
My father is an inspiration to me. He didn´t said this to me but “… Do what you love and don´t have to work until the very last day of life…”.
- Top 3 mobile apps on your smartphone?
Since the day I bought the Huawey P8 my connection to photography software became more effective, but I only use the following:
- Top 3 websites?
Youtube because is an incredible platform of research and knowledge, there´s an interesting photography channel where you can learn about lightning. Linkedin because your life as a professional can change on a single post and for last: World Press Photo where you can dream of being there one day 🙂
- Your last vacation?
Went for a three-day journey to Madrid, an incredible city for street photo. It took a while to visit the capital of Spain but it was a great surprise. My connection to Madrid has begun in 2015 at a volleyball tournament called AMB I became the official photographer of Club Voleibol Madrid. I promised them last year that one day I would show without warning (smile!) and in January the day as arrived. It was amazing because they gifted me a picture signed and invited me to dinner at the official bar. I strongly believe that life gives you “gifts” and the chance of getting this group as friends for life is one of them!