by Fábio Miguel Roque
Today we’re featuring Portuguese photographer Fábio Miguel Roque, who also heads up the small publishing house The Unknown Books and also Preto Collective, a collective who focus only on black and white photography.
After studying photography at the Portuguese Institute of Photography, he began his career working as a photojournalist and creating work in the documentary genre. Eventually and most recently, Miguel Roque began to focus on more personal, more intimate themes.
His project Hometown is an inward-focusing work; a visual response to losing his job. The lack of colour, strong contrasts and overall dark appearance of the series is what drew us to the project. It feels as if we’re seeing something intimate and personal despite the rare appearance of any actual people.
Miguel Roque’s frustration and perhaps even despair at his situation seeps out of the images, and the series together as a whole. And yet we’re warmed by the beautiful lone flower – beautiful even in this gritty black and white – and the image of the great big adult hand next to the the child’s small, innocent hand.
It’s a beautiful reminder that in photography, the little things also matter. Perhaps even matter the most.
How did you get into photography?
My story with photography began some time ago, about 12 years or something like that. I was young, and photography appeared as a means for me to express myself.
What is it like to be a photographer in a small village?
It’s hard, there’s no doubt about that. I don’t know how to be a photographer in a big city like London or New York. I think there should be more opportunities, more links to art. Maybe one day, in the future, I might know what the reality of living in a city is.
I’d like to live in San Francisco for a while, but at this stage of my life things are complicated. Living in a small village is nice on the one hand – I can be calm and quiet, I can think about my projects – but on the other hand I’m a little far away from everything.
Tell us a bit about Hometown.
I became without work, and unconsciously began to take photographs in response to my situation in order to express, in some way, the frustration I was feeling.
It was made over four months, the time I was unemployed. It’s a finished project, fortunately! Since then, I’ve exhibited this project this year here in Portugal, and I have also self-published a small photobook of Hometown.
It looks beautiful in black and white.
Most of my projects are black and white. In this particular project, I think it made no sense to express what I was feeling with colour.
What inspires you?
You run The Unknown Books – it’s great to see independent publishers who are doing really well. Why did you start up this project?
I started this project because I love books, especially photobooks, and this was the best way to start publishing my personal work on a regular basis and have total creative freedom about it. Things have gone well and now I am publishing projects of many other artists. It has been amazing to work with each one of them.
What do you have planned for the future? Are you working on any right now?
I’m always working on something. I just launched my latest book I found fireflies in my dream, talking to a strange, drunk and dead man. It’s a project about dreams. I have two more books to launch this year, two new editions of older projects – Awake and Redemption. But I’m also working on new things, I just did a project on my ancestors which will be revealed in 2017, and I’m working on another new project This is just another love story.