My second major expedition in Portugal was due east of Lisbon near the Spanish border – an amazing fortified city defending from Moorish and Spanish incursions.
I can’t remember exactly how I discovered this location but it was a glorious step back in time. Massively thick walls provided protection for the town, while a large fort poised on a hill above and a series of bastions bristled nearby.
Instead of open vistas with ocean and nature, I found abandoned monasteries, churches and aqueducts all around this town. It’s difficult for an American to wrap your head around the age of these places. We have nothing like them.
My imagination went wild! These ideas existed only in the dreams of my youth.
Into this unknown land, I traveled with João, a well-trained model from Lisbon. And to assist with this was my Spanish friend, Samuel. Samuel was even kind enough to take time off of work to show us around.
They were both so gracious and pleasant, while conversations helped me to appreciate more of their culture. And in spite of our recent introductions, I felt a comfort level that belies time. I was honored by their enthusiasm and artistic spirit.
I sometimes have difficulty inspiring models here in the U.S. to embrace my vision. These ideas seem too ugly or frightening. But my concepts seem familiar to Europeans because they have lived with history and understand its significance.
These locations in Portugal were like none of my other urban exploration shoots. I definitely felt a stronger, more human connection. Or perhaps it was the excitement of traveling to another country, finding beautiful sights and interacting with wonderful people. It was definitely memorable!
And João did a marvelous job with little complaint – a real trooper! He brought to this mix his own uniquely gestural skills that enhanced these lovely spaces. You can easily see his past experience as an art model in these classical poses.
I truly hope to get the opportunity to work with both of these guys again some day. They are my new friends and there are so many other great places to explore.
Please feel free to check out more information about abandoned western Spain and its history on Samuel’s blog at: caminosdecultura.blogspot.com.
And more images of João’s modeling are on Instagram @johaundavy.