Photographer João Bernardino’s draw to utilitarian and industrial infrastructure: our conversation

Photographer João Bernardino’s draw to utilitarian and industrial infrastructure: our conversation
Copyright © João Bernardino
Copyright © João Bernardino
By Camille Bello
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Passionate about old industrial infrastructure and vehicles, João Bernardino (@joao.bernardino) is European Lens’ second featured photographer.


With a passion for old industrial infrastructure and vehicles, João Bernardino (@joao.bernardino) is European Lens’ second featured photographer.

Born and raised in Portugal, João is a designer, illustrator, photographer and a professor attracted to the men-vs-nature conflict. Bernardino's lens looks for adverse conditions that tell a story, especially the ones that narrate some sort of transformation from the industrial age to contemporaneity.

Bernardino's interest in utilitarian landscape photography captured Euronews’ eye for many reasons, but mostly because of the powerful feeling his photographs convey.

João’s images evoke silence amid chaos; there is a brutal serenity that takes over each one of his images.

Looking at Bernardino's photos is like reading a strong manifesto, the kind that leaves you thinking and wondering: 'What did he mean?'

Euronews’ spoke with Bernadino to find out more about his work. This is our conversation.

How did your photography journey start?

Everything started in Lisbon, where I was born and raised, in a very known art-driven high school. Basically, we started with pinhole (camera) and ended having physics and chemistry applied to photography.

I had my first camera before that, it was a 1980 Zenit especial edition for the Moscow Olympic Games, it was a gift from my grandfather, and I used it for almost 20 years. I remember using it on a trip to Morocco circa 1999 in what I could consider the first film series I really enjoyed doing. Afterwards, I experimented a lot with photography in university, but always as a part of a much bigger plan: my design projects.

So I can really say that my connection to photography comes a long way back. But it was in fact not so many years ago, thanks to mobile photography and Instagram, that I started growing this passion I have now for photography.

What are your travel essentials and what camera do you use?

I have a Fujifilm x-t20 and I use several Fujinon lenses: 10-24mm, 18-55mm, 55-200mm and sometimes the 56mm. Also, when travelling, I always bring my iPad for editing.

What is the one thing you wish you knew when you started taking photos?

That I should have taken more photographs in the countries I have travelled before, especially for places like Japan because it is very far away and I don’t know when I am going back. I also regret not having taking more shots in the Maghreb (region), because it has changed so much in the last 10 years.

How would you describe your style of photography?

Not so long ago someone related the literary concept of conflict — I guess the man-versus-nature conflict — with my photography style. I do identify my work with that relation, especially in the last two years, when my photography finally detached itself from my early work, which was populated with more design and illustration notions and concepts.

What is your favourite place or thing to photograph?

I really like to shoot utilitarian and industrial infrastructures and vehicles, but not flashy and contemporary ones. They must resonate with the modernist concept of progress and preferably stand in adverse weather and light conditions. I also love to get out in the city in the early morning hours, before it gets busy and crowded.

Favourite European location and why?

The favourite location is always your next one, or the one you haven’t been yet but plan to go to one day. So I have to say that my current favourite locations are in Europe’s periphery, Puglia in south Italy, where I am planning to go in a few months and up north in Svalbard, in Norway, where I have to go someday.

What is the most memorable photo you’ve ever taken?

Early morning street life in Porto. #fujifilmxpt #xf56mm

Une publication partagée par João Bernardino (@joao.bernardino) le

It was early morning and I was out in a Porto old quarter testing the 56mm f1.2, which is an ultra-sharp lens with an outstanding bokeh and I managed to capture this old couple leaving home. I felt that I had entered their world for a few seconds, and also that I had managed to capture the style and spirit of an entire Portuguese old generation. This shot made me think a lot about my work and the fact that I don’t do as much street photography as I would like to.

Are there any things that you would never want to photograph?


Follow Bernardino’s work — as well as other European Lens photographers — with Euronews’ Instagram account

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