About a Shoot in Porto, Portugal

Dusk was approaching fast and I had yet to get the shot of the city from the top of the Luis I Bridge, one of the main landmarks of Porto, a city in Portugal that sits on the banks of the Duoro River and best known for its worldwide renown of the rich red digestif Port wine. It was my last day there and I had to make the most of it.

“One last glass”, I said to my friendly waiter as I downed another vintage port as part of an impromptu wine tasting afternoon at Vinologia, a local bar that I had accidentally discovered during my wanderings through Porto’s cobblestoned streets. After taking a few shots of the interiors of the place (and the lineup of the port wines I had ordered), I decided to make my way to the riverfront. But as many boozy afternoons go, I decided to walk down to the riverfront and because the light was nice I wanted to hang around for a bit.

Across the river from Porto in adjacent Vila Nova da Gaia are the many warehouses that are synonymous with world famous varieties of port wine brought from the Duoro River Valley. It was on my shoot list for the assignment and I thought I could get that done at the same time. Then out of nowhere, a group of young kids showed up with a soccer ball and I said to myself “That’s it, I will wait till I get some interesting silhouettes with the landscape in the background.” Little did I realize that I had spent almost an hour watching these kids and I still had to do the last shot remaining on my list. 

The light was fading fast. I looked up to the bridge from where I wanted to shoot Porto’s skyline. It was a good 150 ft high from where I was and I knew I had about 10 mins to make that climb and get the shot. And so it began. A climb (more of a sprint) along with all my gear that I will remember for the rest of my life. I ran up hundreds of flights of stairs, through back alleyways, an old elevator bridge, through the back kitchen of a restaurant, through dark archways, blocked entrances and finally made it to the top. 

I was exhausted and out of breath but once I reached my vantage point the view was breathtaking. I set up the tripod and got the camera ready fast. The light was good for only 3 frames but I knew I got the shot. More importantly, I was amazed how fast I made it up there! 

And then last month I found that one of those frames made the cover of the Sep/Oct Budget Travel magazine. It brought back those memories.