Dinis Santos: Photographs With a Homemade 8×10 Camera

Duarte Amorim

All images by Dinis Santos. Used with permission.

“I’ve studied Painting at the Fine Arts School of Porto, Portugal. There I had two years of analog photography. Soon I realized that photography would be my predilect tool and I’ve abandoned the pencil and the brush.” says photographer Dinis Santos about how he got into photography. Though he shoots commercial work, he also built his own camera which he used to create large format portraits.

Dinis started out shooting digitally and later on wanted to try out shooting analog. When he moved to a new home, he had the space for a lab. At the same time, he wanted to experiment with large format photography but didn’t have the money to. so he built his own camera with cheap materials: wood a cheap loupe.

“When I was starting to use this camera, Portugal was living the first years of austerity. In the parliament the right wing government was cutting on the education, health public system and had closed the department of culture.” says Dinis. “In the streets the left wing movements and new movements were rising together in huge demonstrations.” Dinis continues to say that those meetings for the left wing used to be held at his house. As people came and went, he asked for their portraits.

At our place we used to have meetings to organize protests and paint banners and posters.

Rita Garizo

“Once I did these portraits and wrote the following text about them”:

It wasn’t the first time that we were going to a demonstration. In those months there were a lot of them. I was born on 1983* and 30 years after I have the IMF barring the way to the future again. Once again the José Mário Branco’s song** makes sense. The demonstration was almost beginning, you could feel it already, you could hear the buzz and the drums were playing not to far. You feel hope when someone looks at you as an accomplice.

The vinyl was playing. José Mário Branco was singing again. We were there, looking down. The living room was now filled with a thick atmosphere. Filled with smoke and sadness. We can’t look at each other now. The song is too sad and too certain. His voice continues portraying the nation. Suddenly a scratch in the disk makes it stop in loop:

“Esta merda não anda, Esta merda não anda, Esta merda não anda, Esta merda não anda,Esta merda não anda,Esta merda não anda,Esta merda não anda,Esta merda não anda,Esta merda não anda, Esta merda não anda, Esta merda não anda, Esta merda não anda, Esta merda não anda…” ***

It was god’s will or, if we prefer, history’s will, that the vinyl gave us such an hard loop to hear. Finally one of us touches the player and the song carries on and so do we.”

Carlos Pinheiro

* 1983 – In this year the IMF entered in Portugal for the second time.

** José Mário Branco is a portuguese singer that wrote a song called IMF. In the song he describes, with a strong sense of humor but also with anger and sadness, the political and social situation of Portugal when IMF entered Portugal for the first time.

*** Literally : “This shit won’t move” – the singer is talking about the feeling of being powerless.”

Virginia Valente

Virginia Valente


joao marrucho


Dinis Santos




Chris Gampat

Chris Gampat is the Editor in Chief, Founder, and Publisher of the Phoblographer. He also likes pizza.