Jose Manuel Ribeiro

Jose Manuel Ribeiro

Lisbon, Portugal
Lisbon, Portugal
“I hope that when I’m 100 years old I’ll still be showing and telling stories with my photos.”


Most of my work is made up of covering soccer and politics, but I also photograph features, the environment and some entertainment pieces. I like to be able to focus on people’s life stories.

One Shot

. Rafah, Gaza Strip. REUTERS/Jose Manuel Ribeiro
The mother of a dead three-year-old boy named Tawfeq Saaed Bereka is comforted by relatives at the Rafah refugee camp in the southern Gaza Strip.
“This picture touches me because it is very similar to thousands of images of Madonnas painted over hundreds of years of history which show the pain of losing a son.”


Some of my earliest memories of photography come from when I was a child and my mum bought me a plastic Diana camera with supermarket coupons. I also remember the black-and-white portrait of my grandfather on the wall in the dining room.

I started learning to take pictures with friends in a darkroom at high school, experimenting and failing, and later went to photography school. I think the special edition of French Photo magazine about the 10th anniversary of the May 1968 riots in Paris was my first exposure to photojournalism.

In the late 1970s I was a member of a caving group and they asked me to photograph the topography of a cave 80 metres below the surface of the earth and more than 10 km long. It took me a full week, surrounded by mud and with humidity levels of over 95 percent. Showing the pictures from dozens of black-and-white rolls to my friends made me understand that you need smooth, sharp editing to find the best photos, which are not always the hardest ones to shoot.

Back in 1994 I visited a traditional “mental hospital” on the outskirts of Luanda, Angola. It treated former soldiers and civilians affected by the civil war. In the backyard dozens of patients were chained to heavy pieces of scrap metal, with their heads shaved and painted with white ink. From time to time I still remember those empty and peaceful faces.

Looking at the ocean near my home is my favourite source of inspiration, while I play, reload, rewind and freeze my visual memories and written notes. The news media inspires my work too, and I also like to talk with mates about stories and watch documentary films.

When I go on an assignment I start by imagining and editing the photos to come in my head. When shooting I'm editing too as I decide where to point my camera. Later, I try to take a breath between shooting and actual editing. That’s the ideal, but often it happens that I’m doing all three phases at once.

I’m becoming less stressed and more able to hone in on the focus of the story. And I’m better at feeling the ambience around the subject, which has become a bigger part of my photos.

It’s great to have a front-row seat in my job. But the worst part is not having more than 24 hours in a day.

I hope that when I’m 100 years old I’ll still be showing and telling stories with my photos.

In the future I want to carry on learning and to be surprised every day. I also hope the gear will be lighter and simpler.

Behind the Scenes

. Pacos de Ferreira, Portugal. Rui Farinha
Reuters photographer Jose Manuel Ribeiro shoots pictures at the Portuguese Premier League soccer final at the Mata Real stadium in Pacos de Ferreira.