27th October 2021 | London
The Process: Francis Augusto on defining your work from experiences

London based Freelance Photographer, Francis Augusto came to the UK in the late 90's as a refugee fleeing the civil war which, at the time, was raging across Angola. Now, some 20 years later, Francis has made a life for himself and continues to follow his core passion which is photography. Having been inspired in his life by the works of Vivian Maire he moved towards exploring street photography. He became obsessed with investigating people as a whole, and individuals, learning their story and capturing it. As his curiosity and skills developed, photography turned from hobby and in early 2017 into a career.

Alongside speaking at our Glug x Fora event during Clerkenwell design week, we commissioned Francis to go into the Clerkenwell community and photograph its inhabitants in a series entitled 'The Faces of Clerkenwell'. These photographs would then be utilised by Jennifer Hyashi, who was also speaking, to deliver a doodle bomb activation on the night. If you were unable to attend the night then fear not. 


Francis Augusto - No Justice, No Peace

We approached Francis to answer a series of questions about his life and practise for people to read, digest and enjoy. 

What were your memories of coming to the UK as a refugee from Angola?

I have pretty intense trauma about those years, so I can't remember much. What I can remember is being tired, and my mum consistently praying. 

What was your first experience with a camera?

The first experience I can recall was being at the Millennium Dome and holding an old school KODAK disposable camera, and it felt natural as if it's meant to be there.

How do you feel your life experiences have had an impact on your outlook and work today?

My life has profoundly impacted my outlook, as I've seen the worst and best versions of humanity. I feel that it's made me understand the dark reality that sometimes people choose to dismiss. Being able to be here, right now, has also illustrated the beauty of second chances and perseverance. My mother taught me what hard work looks like. She had nothing given to her, raise myself along with my siblings, and I don't think I could ever show my appreciation enough. I have the opportunity to do the work that I want to and I'm driven to make it fucking work.

Were there any reasons for moving towards street photography as a medium?

The streets are where I grew up, where I learn so many simple lessons about life that I've kept until today. The streets are where "real" and "fake" of life collide - where we mundanity thrives. I've always been an observer of life, and street photography offered me some form of a "license" to do it without being judged.


Francis Augusto - Where Home Is

Is there any type of work you haven't had a chance to explore yet, but is on your bucket list?

Moving images/ film work.

You've mentioned that Vivian Marie is your photography heroin. Are there any specific reasons for this?

Her work is real and straightforward. Personally, that's the main reason that I love her work, there's no pretence, there's no staging, she did not seek intense or extreme scenes - that's why I love her work. It was real.

How was the experience of photographing the community within Clerkenwell?

It felt pretty weird to do it, as I haven't taken time to do something like this for a while. I did a project a few years ago that was similar, after seeing Humans of New York. It felt great to walk around and talk to strangers, getting to know them and photographing them too.


Francis Augusto - Faces of Clerkenwell

If money wasn't an issue what would your dream camera set-up be?

I'd have either a Mamiya or Hasselblad film camera, a nice portrait lens. That's it.

If you could photograph any event from the past, or present what would it be?

There's no event that I feel compelled to photograph, my work is more about people, so there are a few people that I would have loved to have photographed. Travelling and initiating different projects about people and their stories is the dream. I would have loved to meet and photograph Maya Angelou.

What piece of advice would you give to your younger self?

I would tell my younger self to dig a little more for the richness, wait a bit longer for things to come, love yourself deeper - that's all you need.

You can check out Francis's portfolio and channels by visiting his website.


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