The beauty of the moment

Rui Miguel Cunha

July 16, 2019

Rui Miguel Cunha loves life, people and photography. In this interview, he tells us about how his passion emerged, the poetry of the moment, and the fascination of synchronicity.
Rui Miguel Cunha loves life, people and photography. In this interview, he tells us about how his passion emerged, the poetry of the moment, and the fascination of synchronicity.

LFI: How did you get into photography?

Rui Miguel Cunha: I started with photography around 1999/2000. After having edited my first music album, it was necessary to create an image for the cover and also a portrait of myself to be included on the data sheet. The photographer had a Minox GL, and I was amazed that such a small camera could do such an important job. I found it so beautiful that I tried to find and buy one for myself. In an used equipment store I saw a Leica M2 and was equally astonished. I didn't stay with the Leica at that time, but I always had in mind that one day I'd be able to acquire this camera that I desired so much. It had been love at first sight.

Later, I began photographing people on the street, maintaining a certain distance; but I realised from their expressions that I needed to approach them... I also began to follow the paths and careers of a few photographers: Eduardo Gageiro, Sebastião Salgado, Steve McCurry, among others. Their photographic content was so intimate and personal. This made me rethink the way I saw the street, people and the world. So I started to do some documentary work around my own town.

LFI: You have a very strong and lively visual language, always focussing on many people and their emotions. What is the main thing you want to show and tell with your photography?

First of all, I deeply respect the people that I photograph. I love photography, but I am also an eternal lover of people, culture and ways of life. I like to create scenarios without disturbing anything or anyone. Life is all around us – we just have to watch, read, respect and express ourselves, in the way that we think is most appropriate to our emotions, and by doing so pass on our message through our photographic work.

I love seeing lots of things happening at the same time in my images. I like them to be dynamic and to provoke questions and excitement in the people who see them. Sometimes I like to create some abstraction, including many characters, or almost “actors”, into a single frame. It's a kind of ability that I don't want to loose. It gives meaning to my work and how I perceive the world: dynamic and unique.

LFI: Do you have any favourite subjects, or any moods you prefer to create?

I am inspired by contemporary, daily life. On the streets, our emotions are always in constant development. I like to see life on the move. I love to create open narratives so that viewers can end up involved with them. I like mirrors, and I like to create a universe where there are several stories in one photograph. I love the sea and the way people feel completely ecstatic in its presence. Last but not least, I love children, because I believe childhood is the time of our lives where we are the purest, most unselfconscious, and truest to ourselves.

LFI: How did you manage to find your own visual language? Do you have any role models?

Yes, quite a number: Monsieur Bresson, Mr. Capa, Mr. Salgado, Ms. Martine Franck, Mr. James Nachtwey, etc.. I tried to use them to find my own “photographic reason”, but I obviously didn't find it because it only exists within myself. I realised that I had to find my own way and create my own photography as an expression of my own feelings. At the same time, however, we are nothing without those who inspire us; so they served me as a basis for knowledge and learning.

LFI: Do you have a favourite camera?

I used to say that I can take pictures with almost any camera in the world, but the Leica M makes me feel more comfortable than any other. In the days of analogue, my love was for the M2; it's a real beauty – always ready for any kind of task in every kind of environment. In the digital era, my favourite is the M10 with a 35mm lens.

For me, working with the M10 is like a deja vu... It seems as though time doesn't pass. Without a doubt, I consider the Leica M is a complete state of mind. The camera itself doesn't make me a better photographer; but if I am happy, comfortable, inspired and relaxed when I'm out taking pictures, that's probably when I'll get more good and iconic shots. The Leica M makes me feel good.

All images on this page: © Rui Miguel Cunha
Equipment: Leica M10 with Summicron-M 35 f/2 Asph.

Rui Miguel Cunha+-

Luís Vasconcelos
© Luís Vasconcelos

Rui Miguel Cunha was born in Lisbon on June 1, 1976. Inspired by contemporary daily life, the photographer uses photo-journalistic concepts and a strong connection to pure street photography, to give his work a documentary narrative. More


The beauty of the moment

Rui Miguel Cunha