Capturing moments of history is just another day at the office for Ruben Malia who considers himself a documentary photographer. Funnily enough his favourite lens is a little shorter in focal length then I would have guessed.
Tell us a little about yourself?
Well, this one is always tricky, I am 29 years old, i live in Porto, Portugal. I graduated in photography in the Portuguese Institute of Photography, i work as a freelance photographer and i am represented by “Invision Images”.
I consider myself a curious person, i am always trying new things with photography, i have always several ideas for projects in mind, in fact i have a entire list on the wall in front of the computer!
I have a supporting family and an amazing girlfriend that ( being a photographer herself ) understands my absences and the hardships of the job.
What made you get into photography?
I had graduated from high school in computer technologies and started working as a freelance for a while as a Webdesigner and IT Technician until i ended up working on a factory making computer memories.
While all this was going, i always kept feeding a growing passion that was photography, and it was until i was laid-off, that i decided to take a big and decisive turn in my life, to do something that i loved instead of a numbing job that didn’t fulfilled me as person.
Shortly after that i applied for a scholarship and started learning photography in the professional course of the Portuguese Institute of Photography.
How did you get started?
After graduation, i started working for the city hall doing the coverage of several music concerts and publishing them in the local newspaper. But concerts were not what i saw myself doing with photography, so i began sending emails and sometimes waiting in the reception of several news desks to present my portfolio. I started shooting public events, concerts, and always investing more in my training as a photographer, i read more books, i watched the work of other photojournalists, i went to more exhibits, and most important attending workshops and speaking with other photographers.
What sort of photography do you mainly do?
I like to think of myself as a documentary photographer, with taste for travel, but 70% of the time i end up doing photojournalism for magazines and newspapers.The rest of the time i spend it on my current long term project on culture and traditions of the northern part of Portugal.
What gear are you using?
I don’t think that i am a Canon fanatic, but the truth is that all my cameras are Canon, digital and film.
Whats your favourite lens and why?
Right now i don’t have a favourite lens, i use mainly a 17-40mm F4 and a 50mm F1.8.
But i am dying to try a lensbaby 🙂
How are you marketing yourself?
Hum…probably the same way as everyone else these days, social media as become a very important part of it, and allows you to show your work more faster. I have had a deviant art account when i was starting, but now i mainly use my Website, blog, Facebook and twitter.
A web presence like a personal Website allows a more direct contact with clients, but the really important thing is understanding how the search engines work, this is very important when wanting your work to be seen.
Whats your favourite photo you have taken?
Three years ago i started documenting the men, women and children that every year pay tribute in all sorts of pagan and religious celebrations in the north of Portugal, i wanted to preserve the traditions that make my county so culturally rich, and help create a record that may help to maintain its cultural heritage. Here are a few pictures from this long term project:
Advice for new photographers looking to go pro?
I don’t see myself as a pro yet, but the most important advice, ( and you will get this from everyone to the point that it almost becomes a cliche), is never to give up.
Trust me, if this is what you truly want, give all you have, and then a little more.
Spend time studying the photographers that you really admire, how the pictures were made, don’t be afraid to make mistakes, learn the business part as much as you can, and don’t sell yourself short.
Take your time, find your style, and work hard for it. No one goes pro overnight.