How to capture the best Photos of breathtaking Lisbon

Gonçalo Barriga, a top photographer, sports addict and Lisbon resident, gives his best tips to take photos in his city.


The best photo tips for the city of Lisbon

I truly love Lisbon! No wonder the Portuguese capital has become one of the most popular city break destinations in Europe (please see also my personal Lisbon story). History, gastronomy, art, a stunning landscape and ... great people! One of them is Gonçalo Barriga, a 44 year old photographer who was born been in this cool city and has been living there again for the past six years. Lisbon is an outstanding place for photograpy – whatever your preferences are. Gonçalo has a few tips from a pro for you!

Principe Real neighbourhood
Colourful Lisbon

Geologist, Photographer and Sports Freak

I had the pleasure of meeting Gonçalo for a photo shooting at the stunning Palácio Belmonte in Lisbon in August 2015. Do you know that feeling when you get along well with someone right from the minute you meet? That`s what happened when we first met. Sure, he is an excellent photographer who always goes the extra mile to catch the perfect shot but there is much more. I share so many values with him and I was truly impressed by his personal fitness – scary to see him jumping from wall to wall just to find the best angle for a photo. In short: he will ALWAYS go the extra mile for the best shot – and he is one of those guys who inspire me.

Palácio Belmonte in Lisbon
My favourite image of last year`s shooting with Gonçalo - Palácio Belmonte

My Interview with Goncalo

KHL: You only became a professional photographer in 2010. What did you do before and how did you decide to do something completely different?

GB: Believe it or not, I was a geologist before that. I started working on gold exploration projects in Northern Portugal and Brazil in 1996 and then got a job as a mine geologist at an underground copper-zinc mine in Southern Portugal (Neves-Corvo) where I worked for 14 years.

Photography has been a part of my life since I can remember. I traveled a lot with my family when I was a child, and my father would always carry a huge bag with a complete medium format system (Hasselblad).

Also, our house was filled with National Geographic issues, so I grew up mesmerized by the images of explorers in exotic places.

I have had cameras in my hand since I was around 8, but initially I didn't take photography seriously. I was only interested in documenting my experiences, especially travel and sports, and never gave much attention to the process. The camera was on auto or semi-auto most of the time!

Only since my first digital reflex camera, in 2003, did I really start trying to control the results.

At a certain point of my life, I was looking for some kind of change, a challenge, and starting a photography business seemed like a good way to combine two things at the same time: becoming truly proficient in photography and running my own business.

Photographer in Lisbon
©Gonçalo Barriga

KHL: There is a wide array of photos on your website. What are your favourite motifs?

GB: That's easy: sports and portraits!

KHL: Tell me about the greatest challenge during a photo shooting, please.

GB: Probably the time when I was in a middle of a commercial job, shooting a group portrait for a client and my camera died on me. I literally heard a jingle inside it and it simply stopped working. Turns out, the mirror had come loose and fell of!

Fortunately I had a backup camera so, while trying to keep my cool, I told the client I had to get something from my bag (which was true) and came back with the other camera.

KHL: And what was your coolest photo shooting?

GB: I don't know about the coolest, but every time I shoot triathletes with strobes inside a swimming pool, I have a lot of fun!

His favourites are sports images
One of Gonçalo`s stunning sports photos - ©Gonçalo Barriga

KHL: As a Lisbon resident, do you have any secret tips for photo locations in your city – something a visitor should not miss (and that not everyone is taking pictures of)?

GB: I'm not a big street or landscape photographer, but I would definitely recommend visiting Sintra and Guincho beach, which are a only a few kilometers from Lisbon.

Also, one of the things I find very interesting is photographing the places everybody knows in Lisbon, but very early in the morning. You will have all the iconic locations to yourself and a different perspective of the surroundings. No tourists, just a few people going about with their life.

One of the fantastic beaches close to Lisbon
Beach Fun at Praia Guincho - ©Gonçalo Barriga

KHL: Would you also share a few tips for Lisbon, such as your favourite restaurants and coffeeshops.

GB: There is a tiny pasta restaurant I love, near the Castelo de São Jorge, called Cantina Baldracca.

And if your budget allows, the beautiful and delicious Darwin's Café restaurant is a must.

One of my favorite coffeeshops is outside of Lisbon, by the beach at São Pedro: Ponta do Sal.

A popular spot in Lisbon
©Darwin`s Café – Chillin`with a View!


Edgy café in Lisbon
The fancy Interior of ©Darwin`s Café

KHL: Last but not least – what are your top tips for an amateur photographer like me?

GB: I will insist on the point I made before: while visiting a busy city like Lisbon, getting up very early in the morning is one of the best ways to ensure unique pictures of otherwise crowded places. And, as a bonus, the light can be pretty amazing at sunrise!

I would also suggest picking a theme instead of trying to shoot everything in sight. This could be doors, lamps, people's activities, people's hats... anything that appeals to you.

Not only will you end up with a coherent set of images, but you will also have a very unique and personal view of the city to show others.

Photographer in Lisbon
©Gonçalo Barriga

Muito obrigado, Gonçalo. – Have a look at his website with tremendous images.


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