Born in 1989, Porto – Portugal
I am an independent Design Director and Photographer based in London. I am influenced by eastern philosophy, psychology, mindfulness, musical composition and the arts. A fascination for photography and photographic narratives provided me the foundation for my career in visual communication and design, and I remain an avid photographer.
My family are three generations of jewellers - a family business I continue to engage with. Their craft is an inspiration to me and motivates the meticulous and detail-orientated approach I dedicate to my work. Developing projects from idea, through inception and to completed fabrication is my desire. My project work is industry recognised and awarded.
Captivated by the relation between objects of every nature and their heartfelt emotions, together with a holistic, human and practical approach to design, I translate my influences and interests to prompt exciting, creative and conceptual thoughts.
Most recently, I have travelled to India to work with the NGO RSKS India.
This journey has left a huge impression on me. It is now my desire to keep expanding these ripples of impact and widening the space for the unprivileged by exhibiting a selection of my work in conjunction with the stories entrusted to me.
I believe a photograph becomes a space to be inhabited and shaped, not only through meaning but also by the sheer physical presence within its borders, acknowledging existence and life.
In a interview with PWB, I have discussed what it means to be a documentary photographer and explored how community building is the foundation of empathy.
PWB: What makes you more than a photographer?
RVDS: Documentary Photography is an interesting undertaking. You are more than a photographer, you’re not just your ego. You are the friends you have, the people you meet, and the experiences that connect you to your real you. It involves a lot more than just classic training. It demands several skills; an emotionally intelligent view of the world, a deep understanding of how to treat and respect others, how to be empathetic, and most importantly, how to genuinely listen to people. After all, when capturing an individual or a moment we take something that tells a story of that person. Making sure their dignity is preserved and our actions are a wish to celebrate their divine rights to be loved, free, and equal. To be a documentary photographer means very much to also be a humanitarian.
PWB: How has your work as a photographer
connected you to your community and to the world?
RVDS: The most precious learning from my experience in India is that being part of a community is the most essential tool for survival. We all want to know there’s someone out there who understands and listens, who will look out for us, who will take care of us, someone who sees us; loves us. When speaking to the community members I met in India… [they would say,] “We are happy here. We have each other. If we didn’t have each other, we would literally have nothing at all”. As a documentary photographer, you never know where the journey will take you but it will leave a profound and long-lasting imprint on you.
PWB: How does your work in India expand
on existing narratives around societal inequalities?
RVDS: Roughly a quarter of India’s population are affected by poverty, discrimination, illiteracy or domestic violence. Caste discrimination, the inhuman treatment of societal groups deemed lesser by heritage, and violence against women are everyday realities. In the case of my recent work in Rajasthan, I was able to stand by my subjects and enter their perspective and truly listen to them, creating a space for an open and honest dialogue.
I seek to capture their humanity, grace, and defiance. My images celebrate the colour and life I saw in moments of happiness and pain. A meaningful glance or a simple gesture shows us the irrepressible nature of the human spirit. By reflecting on various personal experiences I can add my unique voice, therefore complimenting the story into a meaningful and personal report. By integrating writing, psychology, and a philosophical and spiritual approach to life, I can better understand my creative process and how to approach every project.
PWB: What does storytelling mean to you?
RVS: For me, storytelling is sharing a personal vision based on authentic research and facts. I believe that within our field, great storytelling should raise moral, sociological, and environmental questions within the viewer; sparking contemplation on the times we are currently living in. It allows us to reflect on personal perspectives and inspires new thinking. The stories told shall be truthful and evoke emotions that trigger conversation and debate, translating to action and change.