Nuno Lobito, photographer with over 20 years of experience, is also the Portuguese who most travelled around the globe – in the world map, only 15 countries remain to be visited. On November 11th of 2011, he hopes to complete his quest. Until then, he willingly shares his adventures with all those who want to follow and also with Boas Notícias (“Good News”).
Who is Nuno Lobito – a photographer with the soul of a traveler or a traveler with the soul of a photographer?
I am undoubtedly a traveler with the soul of a photographer, because to be a traveler is something that is learned along the way, while photography is something that was born with me, it makes part of me.
What do you try to accomplish in all the countries that you visit and in the countless travels that you have already made?
I try to show to Portugal and to the world what goes in my soul in all these countries and where, for times, it isn’t easy to stay. Look at countries like, for example Iraq, Afghanistan and Somalia, where people want to see photographers far away from them. But my motto about life is always to give my best shot.
What are the countries that affected you most and why?
It is a difficult question, because I liked all the countries that I visited up until now – and I can say that they are 189. Over 20 years ago I learned this with his Holiness the Dalai Lama: whenever we find the good in the awful, it is a sign of intelligence. But there is a country to which I shall never return which is Israel. There I encountered very arrogant people.
You said, in an interview for the program “Alice no país dos viajantes” (Alice in the Country of the Travelers) for SIC TV Station that you don’t appreciate Europe much. Why?
It is true! I find that Europe is very uniformized, although obviously, there are cultural differences. But they are minimal, at least to my understanding, since I only have 15 countries left to visit in the world. But my unpleasantness has to do with the quality versus the price: in Denmark, for example, which is a country that I appreciate (essentially in summer), more money is spent one day in lodging and in food than what is spent in a month in India and you enjoy less the experience.
Did living among the tribal communities of the Amazon affect your vision as a photographer? In what way?
It did not affect my vision as a photographer, but it did as a man, because in the Amazon money is not the dominant value. In the middle of the jungle with a 100 euro bill will be of no value to you; the exchange of goods is what commands life, and I respect this concept – each one gives what he has! I have today a little bit of the Amazon at my home, because I’m married for over 10 years with an Indian of the Amazon, of which resulted the birth of my son, Angel. My book Amazónia Oculta (“The hidden Amazon”), published in black and white, is so special for me as the book Sounds of the Silence. Still referring to the Amazon, it would take me days to describe the five years that I lived there and where I grew as a human being, something that is difficult to understand in this civilization of superficial values.
Some of your pictures are in black and white. What is portrayed through this option that is not visible with colors?
I see in the black and white photography a type of work that is more related with the author, something more intimate and personal. I believe that colored photography is something more standardized within society and prevalent, but I love all the aspects of the photography.
You have already coordinated several courses of photography. Besides the technical aspects, what must be learned by somebody who wants to become a photographer?
A photographer must be very communicative, if not, he might intimidate the person that is being photographed. Surely he/she must master the technique, because without it he/she will not be able to convey what is seen through the eyes. Then it is also necessary to have a good doses of insanity, since lacking it, someone will find it difficult to become a good photographer (at least in travel photography), because in today’s world, if we do not manage to put into practice what we see, the end result will be soulless. As a consequence, the market won’t buy your work and it will compromise any further steps in this direction. My first 10 years in photography were very tough, but curiously, nowadays, the pictures that I took 25 years ago are perhaps the ones that I like the most.
You are the 10th (at the time of the interview, presently 11th) most travelled person in the world. Is there some plan devised to reach the 1st place of the podium?
I intend to be the first Portuguese to have visited all the countries in the planet – and this is a question of Portuguese pride, it is not vanity. I know that it’s not an easy task and in some of the countries that I visited I had very little time. It was the case in Iraq, where I only stayed during four days (three evenings) for security reasons. But if it were the last country that I visited, I surely would stay a month or more because I’m not afraid of dying. I am confident that by November 11th of 2011 I will have visited all the countries of the world. I am sure of that and until the contrary, I will carry on. I believe in my mission here and believe that dreams can become true! But in order for that to happen, it is necessary to fight for your dreams and to believe in them, and above all, to be able at times to wait for the right moment without never giving a step backwards.
Does the spirit of discoveries remain alive among the Portuguese?
I feel that Portugal still suffers of a great problem: it lives on its past. It is obvious that the past is important, but without a solid present, there will never be a promising future. Nowadays, people travel more, but to destinations where little or nothing is learned. Nobody visits Iran because of what they hear and read in the media, which portrays a very negative image of that country. Interestingly, this was one of the five destinations that I most appreciated visiting. I am not a tourist, I am a traveler and the difference between the two is this: one serves to suck energy, the other to share and to learn with cultures and experiences. Buying a pair of trendy pants in New York’s 5th Avenue is of little value to me. It is not in material things that I find happiness; desire is the biggest cause of suffering!
Do you try to communicate with all that follow your adventures on YouTube and in the social networks. Does photography enable sharing?
Like a Buddhist that I am for over 20 years, sharing is one of the sentiment words that I love most. I cannot live without sharing and it gives me an enormous pleasure to be able to show, to my four thousand plus followers on Facebook, worlds that they may never be able to visit and that, for times, don’t even know that exist like Vanuatu, Kiribati… Also, these followers give me the necessary strength to pursue with my goal. More often than not, machines break down, computers crash and even so, dozens of messages arrive from Lisbon bringing me courage and strength! I feel obliged in giving back to these people, because without them I would never have reached where I am. This coming November a new book will be published, O Mundo aos meus olhos (“The World to my eyes”), that will be a hymn to photography and to travels. I would also like to invite everybody to be at the airport of Lisbon on November 11th of 2011, date in which I arrive from Iceland, the final country that crowns my visits to the world, in order to celebrate something that belongs not only to me, but to all the Portuguese as well!
What are your next destinations?
In mid-September I’m leaving for Rwanda, Uganda, Burundi, Sudan and Democratic Republic of the Congo. In the year of 2011 I foresee reaching the 10 remaining countries. It will be difficult, but with effort, dedication and glory I am confident that I will get there.
(translated by BestInPortugal.com under permission of the author, Débora Cambé of Boasnoticias.pt )
Images:Nuno Lobito www.nlphotographer.com