June 28, 2017

Beyond Barriers: The People of Lisbon

Words + Photos : Austin Willis

Lisbon has always been on the top of my list. As a photographer’s dream, it represented this land of mystery…a place with historic landscapes and modern culture. Having never been outside the United States, the culture and people of Lisbon is something I have wanted to experience for a long time.

From the minute I landed, I could feel a sense of peace and tranquility. The fresh air and warm sun were in direct contrast to the busy New York I call home. Although the people of NYC are incredibly interesting to shoot, I couldn’t wait to drop my bags and get lost with my camera in Lisbon.



Lisbon carries a quiet stillness that’s truly beautiful. It’s a stillness that is brought on by the people. With their calm, collective, and soft spoken nature their approach was a refreshing perspective on life. Especially compared to life in NYC, the people appeared happier, the simple key to a collective tranquility. 

I’ve always been drawn to portraiture. Even with a language barrier, photographing people creates these beautiful, unexpected interactions. Stumbling through partial english and portuguese there was a mutual exchange that took place with a series of joyful strangers. Each was excited to connect, talk and pose for a few shots.

The amazingly talented Márcio, Totonho, and D’son were walking back into their studio when we ran into them. They were a lively bunch just like the vibrant artwork they create.


 

Ana and Denise run a natural hair blog called Curly Essence. They are passionate about bringing knowledge and inspiring women in Portugal and around the world to embrace their natural hair and highlight some amazing people with natural hair.

I happened to meet Al as I passed by his restaurant. What started as a simple question to snap a photo resulted in a unique conversion about places, travel, and art. Being from New York I forget the intrigue from other artists to visit.

Having met only a few minutes prior he invited me to attend his art show as if we were old friends. And I even tried to visit except for I got lost that night and never made it to the show. I would have loved to have seen his work.




Lisbon happened to be my first stop on a two month expedition across Europe. It wasn’t exactly what I was expecting to find behind my camera, but the warm energy of the people and the vibrant energy of the city made Lisbon a place I will never forget.

It reminded me that embracing what’s in front of you, the time and space that are presented can allow you to make memories that last a lifetime.





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