The point of view of Francisco Seco


Photography: Francisco Seco/Associated Press


The spanish photojournalist Francisco Seco has been living in Lisbon for four years, setting his foundations for the work developed as a freelancer in several renowned publications (the El País and The New York Times newspapers) and a correspondent of the Associated Press (AP). It was precisely a piece for the american news agency that brought him to Ericeira this year with the objective of capturing photographs of Europe’ sole World Surfing Reserve. The mission ended up taking longer than anticipated due to the adverse weather conditions, but the final result outweighed the waiting period, with the photographs being published in several international media outlets and being highlighted on the AP’s website. In this gallery we present some fragments of this and other works by Francisco Seco, with whom we also discussed Ericeira and the story beneath an everlasting image.


Did you already knew Ericeira before this work?

I arrived in Portugal in 2010. I’ve already visited Ericeira to eat some great fish and I knew Ericeira’s fame as a surf spot before the work for Associated Press. As such, and also because I surfed many years and Ericeira is one of the World Surfing Reserves, I proposed to my boss the execution of this report on Ericeira.


How did this project come to life and what were its basis?

I always wanted to make a report on surfing and waves in Portugal. Many people from outside of Portugal and who has nothing to do with surfing are discovering the country because of Garrett McNamara and Nazaré’s waves. That’s important to Portugal. In addition, Ericeira is one of the World Surfing Reserves! In my agency we take almost three years to do many pieces on the financial crisis in Portugal, besides football, and I figured it was the right time to do something fresh and different. There’s a lot in Portugal besides the crisis and the ‘pastéis de nata’.

There’s a lot in Portugal besides the crisis and the ‘pastéis de nata’.

What were your impressions on Ericeira, as a person and as a photographer?

The impression was unforgettable. I really like the town, the fishing dock, and the Surfing Reserve. Photography-wise, Ericeira is a great place. The light is great. The fishing dock is very nice to photograph and the fishermen were always very funny to me. Regarding surfing…it’s a matter of being lucky with the conditions, and nature will work it out (laughing).


This ended up being a long-lasting job, due to a very strict winter, but a magical week made things right for you. Were you satisfied with the final outcome of this work and its feedback?

Yes, it took over a month. The good conditions weren’t enough. Since the beginning it coincided with days of heavy rain and wind which would ruin the waves. Ugly, grey days. I needed to be aware of the weather websites and to call my contacts in Ericeira. I had to make six or seven trips from Lisbon and there were days where I had to return home without any decent photo. Until that week in March. I took good photos on the 10th and 11th of March. On Monday the Coxos’ wave was in excellent conditions, with the surfers enjoying fantastic barrels and very long waves. On Tuesday I photographed Pedra Branca, on a very good session as well. I loved it. When I was capturing pictures these two days I figured the waiting had paid off. I was very happy with the results. And the bosses also enjoyed it. The report on Ericeira was one of the agency’s highlights for the week.


You had the opportunity of covering several types of situations and to get some iconic photographs. Was this the one that got most rooted on the collective memory?

I don’t think that I have iconic images. I think some are better than others, but not iconic. I remember that photograph very well, I’ve already seen it in some graffitis in Lisbon. It was done during a protest at the heart of the city. After some turmoil the police charged on a manifestation that was taking place normally. After I photographed him I wanted to know who the man in the photo was. I have been speaking with him after that. A very cool, calm guy.

Esta publicação também está disponível em | This article is also available in: Portuguese (Portugal)