Eduardo Almeida received the 2023 Denis Roussel Rfotofolio Award. We are pleased to share his work and words on Rfotofolio.
“Eduardo Almeida gave us a breathtaking view of some of the most dramatic scenes in mountainous terrain. They are truly beautiful and show us a world few of us will ever easily see. He presented a unified portfolio that is well presented and provided a very clear explanation of his interest in analog photography and made us wonder what he might present next.” CR and JR
Would you please tell us about yourself?
My name is Eduardo Almeida, and I was born in 1985 in Zamora, a small city in northwest Spain. I spent many hours playing alone in nature during my childhood, and I believe that experience cultivated a unique perspective on my surroundings compared to other children.
I began exploring landscape photography at the age of 18, and a few years later, I acquired a Hasselblad. I instantly fell in love with that camera and the entire analog process. I traveled across various European countries, always drawn by the mountains, while also capturing diverse landscapes. Although I wasn’t certain about what I sought, I always approached my work in a visceral way, embracing complete creative freedom. I believe this approach is the only way to genuinely convey our personal vision.
In 2019, Mónica, my girlfriend, gifted me a large format camera, marking the dawn of a new phase in my photographic journey. Adapting to this format prompted me to adopt a fresh perspective on what I wanted to capture. This transformation in my approach may have altered my outlook on landscape photography, resulting in my recent works.
Please tell us about the portfolio you submitted to the Denis Roussel Award.
“The Mountains” is a long-term project that remains ongoing. I began working on it ten years ago, and the series’ meaning has evolved over time. In its initial stages, I sought to capture a sense of mystery, an intangible essence hidden within the landscape itself. The sight of those peaks piercing the sky always held a compelling fascination for me, like a border between our world and a higher, unattainable one. It’s no wonder that our ancestors created myths and legends around them; there’s a captivating essence that envelops you as you ascend those summits.
As time has passed, my passion for uncovering the mountain’s secrets remains intact, but at the same time, treading those paths has led me not only to the most remote and remarkable places but also deep within myself. Every new route I undertake with my camera becomes a pilgrimage—a trip into the depths of my inner world. By working with the intent to understand both what lies in front of and behind the camera, the end result becomes a journey of profound self-discovery.
Please tell us about your process.
I primarily work with my large format camera, a 4×5” K. B. Canham, but I also create some series using Hasselblad equipment. Once I’ve chosen a location to photograph and after an initial exploration using Google Earth, I analyze the optimal time of year and the position of the sun during those days. Then starts the fieldwork. I usually carry a backpack with around 18 kg (40 pounds) of equipment, including all the necessary photographic gear, a tripod, as well as food and water if I plan to spend one or several days outdoors.
While I often prepare some shots before the trip, it’s the weather and terrain conditions that ultimately dictate which photographs I’ll capture. This is where intuition comes into play, as well as how quickly I can set up and adjust the camera, as light never waits.
Once back in the darkroom, I develop the film and create contact sheets. I can spend hours examining and jotting down notes on my contact sheets, as they play a crucial role in the selection process for printing.
Crafting a good print is always challenging, but having a well-balanced negative serves as a strong starting point. However, achieving a final print can require several hours, or even days. I primarily work with fiber-based variable-contrast papers, mainly in a neutral tone (bromide). The versatility of these papers allows me to attain a final print with exceptional contrast, subtle nuances, and intricate details. This level of control over the printing process is achieved through various darkroom techniques (f-stop timing, split- grade printing, unsharp masks, etc.).
Following a light selenium toning for preservation and tonal correction purposes, the prints are washed for about an hour to remove any residual fixer, and then they are dried.
One of the most intricate stages of the process is the spot retouching of the print. It took me years to master this technique. I can remember the pain in my arm muscles during my initial attempts at retouching prints using an ultra-fine brush (n.0000) and Marshall’s dyes. Now, it’s a relaxing task that I can perform while listening to music. Some prints demand hours of retouching, so a patient approach works best.
In the final steps, I dry mount the print on an acid-free matboard using a heat press. I prefer classic matte-black wood frames for the final presentation, although I occasionally frame my prints with natural oak or walnut frames, depending on the exhibition context.
What is the most frustrating part of the process?
Despite thorough preparation for each trip, the weather in the mountains remains unpredictable, and luck plays a significant role. A mere cloud can cover the peak you intended to photograph for hours, making it far from assured that the journey will yield fruitful results.
On many occasions, I return home without a single image exposed on my film holders. Each time, just before I press the shutter release, I look the scene framed on the ground glass and ponder whether the photograph I’m about to take is worthy of being displayed on a wall. If the answer is no, I carefully fold and keep my camera in the backpack again.
In my artistic perspective, photography is a compelling necessity for the photographer. Like any form of art, it serves as a medium of expression. When this path is chosen, it’s usually for one fundamental reason: a deep love for both the medium and the process.
I could create my work using a digital camera, for instance, and rely on Photoshop for image editing. This would undoubtedly simplify my workflow, but it’s not the path I’ve embraced, nor the method that resonates with me. I believe that we are defined by what we love.
How long have you been practicing this process?
I’m relatively new to this, as even though I began taking photographs two decades ago with a digital SLR, it wasn’t until 2013—ten years ago—that I entered the analog realm. Two years later, in 2015, I built my own darkroom and began printing my photographs. Eight years of darkroom experience might not seem extensive, but I’ve dedicated countless hours and days to being immersed in there, experimenting and inevitably making numerous mistakes. The beauty of mistakes lies in the fact that they offer valuable lessons. There’s still much left for me to learn, and to me, that’s the most thrilling aspect of this journey: the exciting part of always learning.
Do you have a mentor or a teacher that has helped your journey?
I have always been drawn to the works of great American photographers such as Ansel Adams, Edward and Brett Weston, Wynn Bullock, Paul Caponigro, Imogen Cunningham, Bradford Washburn, Bob Kolbrener and many others, as well as some European mountain photographers like Vittorio Sella.
Here in Spain, where I currently reside, it’s not easy to find photographers specialized in this style of photography. As a result, I had to learn by myself and rely on books I could purchase through eBay. Many of the best publications on photographic techniques weren’t available in my country, and I could only access them from the US.
Initially, I read the Ansel Adams trilogy—The Camera, The Negative, and The Print. Even now, I refer to these books as they remain some of the best publications on photography, regardless of their age.
Then, other excellent books on the subject have been published. One that comes to mind is “The Art of Photography” by Bruce Barnbaum. In addition to teaching his techniques, he delves into photography from an artistic and existential viewpoint, emphasizing it as a medium of creation. It’s truly mesmerizing and I recommend it to any photography enthusiast.
How do you work through times when nothing seems to work?
All artist experience that feeling at some point. The reason behind it could be internal or external. Sometimes, we encounter something within us that’s not working well. But in most cases, the solution to this issue also lies within us.There have been times when I’ve considered giving up photography. Moments when inspiration seemed elusive, and I questioned the value of my efforts. However, we can’t always perform at our best. It’s important to learn to pause, relax, and trust that things will fall back into place when needed.
The external factor can be especially challenging. After putting in hard work and achieving good results, it can feel disheartening if others don’t seem to notice. Gaining recognition for your work is tough in a world saturated with images. This is why initiatives like Rfotofolio are so important, publicizing the work of artists and photographers who are determined to share their passion. I can only thank you for it.
What part of image-making do you find the most rewarding?
There are two moments in the process of image-making that I find particularly satisfying and that give purpose to all the effort involved.
The first occurs in the field. After planning a trip for weeks or even months, you find yourself climbing mountains with heavy gear, feeling exhausted, and the weather isn’t as expected. As you search for a good scene to photograph, it seems that nothing is catching your eye. The lighting is awful, and there are not textures or interesting details on the rocks. In that moment, you start questioning the value of all your hard work. Did you invest all this time, energy, and money for this? And then, suddenly, a ray of sunlight breaks through the clouds, bathing the mountain in a magical way. Quickly, you set up your camera, frame the scene, and wait with your finger on the shutter button… And then you press it… This is it! This is why you put in all that effort. This is why you love photography the way you do.
The second moment comes in the darkroom, after developing the film, when you are printing the negative. You’ve made some proof prints and you are close to the final print. As you place the paper in the developer and gently agitate the tray, you watch as the image gradually emerges. It starts to take shape, and your excitement builds. After fixing and rinsing the print, you place it on the glass under the inspection light, and there it is again—the feeling of successfully capturing what you’ve seen out in the field. This is the essence of all your hard work.
What tools have you found essential in the making of your work?
In my opinion, especially for the kind of work I specialize in, you have to use de best quality lenses you can afford, both in the camera and enlarger. The base of a good negative or print is a sharp, high-quality lens. Also, a reliable light meter is essential for my work. I use a Minolta Spotmeter, which remains accurate regardless of the conditions, whether it’s 20oF or 100oF.
Moving into the darkroom, there are tools that might not seem directly tied to photography but are still essential. A hair dryer, for example, is a truly useful tool. It allows you to quickly dry test strips or proof prints, which is essential for assessing the paper’s dry-down effect. Also, it’s handy for gently warming the chemicals in the trays during colder winter sessions in the darkroom.
Is there something in photography that you would like to try in the future?
There are many interesting things for me to try someday. One of my aspirations is to work with an 8×10” format camera and make larger prints. While I’m currently producing prints of up to 20×24” from a 4×5” negative, I want to create prints up 40×48”, full of details, using larger negatives in the future.
Another technique that catches my interest is lith printing. This is a tricky technique and presents an element of unpredictability. Each print is unique and unrepeatable. I could consider to make specific series using this technique, perhaps in a limited edition of a single copy.
What’s on the horizon?
There are many goals on the horizon! I’m planning several photography trips to the Dolomites in Italy, Ordesa and Monteperdido National Park in Spain and California. There are many mountains to photograph yet!
Also, I’ve been contemplating the idea of publishing a book featuring my mountain photography. I would like to find a publisher that might be interested, but if I don’t get it, I would have no problem in self-publishing.
However, perhaps my primary objective right now is to break into the American market. Here, in Europe, this genre of photography hasn’t gained the same reception and sales volume, which can be achieved in the US. The preferences of collectors vary significantly between the two regions. I’m looking forward to start negotiating with some American galleries and start traveling there in the near future.
Thank you Eduardo.
To learn more about the work of Eduardo Almeida please visit is site by clicking on his name.