Every photograph captures a moment in time, but it takes an exceptional artist to encapsulate the spirit and the intangible qualities of life in a single frame. Among the pantheon of photographers who have managed to do so is Maria Rita—a Portuguese photographer who describes her aesthetic as being indefinable, flitting between minimalism and theatricality. Currently based in Lisbon, Maria navigates through a melange of artistic influences to offer the world snapshots that are as fluid in form as they are grounded in emotional intensity.
In today’s saturated visual culture, Maria’s photographs feel like a breath of fresh air. Her oeuvre teeters on the line of fashion photography and intimate portraiture, making each frame a complex dialogue between the viewer and the subject. My work is nothing without my subjects, my locations, the styling, and hair and makeup,” she tells us. “So my work is never mine, and I love that.”
“What works for me today probably won’t work in some months, and that’s the beauty of it all,” she confesses. This sentence encapsulates the restless spirit of Maria. She embraces the ephemerality of artistic expression, allowing her creativity to evolve organically rather than sticking to a fixed vision.
As an artist who appreciates the beauty of experimentation, Maria is ever-evolving. She admits, “I am in a phase where I can separate both worlds and I take my personal work more seriously and care less about external opinions, and maybe that is what makes it more authentic.”
Moreover, the boundaries of Maria’s photography defy easy classification, much like the enigmatic artist herself. The intimacy of her portraits makes you want to know more about the individual looking back at you, while her fashion work brings a level of raw vulnerability that makes each shot compelling and impossible to ignore.
The beauty of Maria Rita’s work is an invitation to dig deeper—to understand the person behind the lens and her take on photography. Her journey is an inspiration to anyone who appreciates the power of visual storytelling. Continue reading for an exclusive Q&A with the artist.
This is actually very special to me as it is probably my favorite picture that I ever took. It is so special to me that I never shared it online before. It doesn’t really have a story. I was experimenting with hand movements at my studio with a model, and I had recently returned to film photography and was testing an old camera that I didn’t know if it was working properly. So when my scans came and I saw this image, I was so happy that I took the time to handprint it myself until I reached the colors and exposure I wanted. I just love the deep color and how simple it is.
This was taken in Brooklyn during a test shoot. I had booked a test shoot with some models and was shopping some styling at Zara when I saw this mom taking this headpiece for her kid’s Halloween costume. I thought it was so random and funny and shiny that I had to convince one of the models to take a relaxed and funny photo with it. Luckily, Erin got in the mood. I just love how relaxed it is with the golden light coming through the windows of the studio.
3. Fine Feathers
This photo was taken in Paris in 2022 as part of an editorial for a magazine called Scala Regia. I am very close to the team, and we had gone to Paris before for shootings and somehow we are never lucky with the weather. This time, it was no different. The location was incredible and looked full of light, but we had to improvise as it was snowing and really dark outside. To make everything worse, I had lost my voice due to the weather. The styling was beautiful, and my super-talented friends have a special eye for composition but this time they also had to help me in guiding the model since I couldn’t speak. So this image, to me, represents friendship and teamwork above all.
This image belongs to an editorial I shot for Stoic Magazine. It was such a fun day in the countryside, and we wanted to shoot from the afternoon until it was dark. We didn’t consider the mosquitoes, though and they were very aggressive. Anyway, sometimes images hold a special place in our hearts, and we really can’t explain why. This is the case, but it is also interesting how this is out of my comfort zone. I usually shoot during the day with sunlight and this was shot at night in complete darkness. The styling was very interesting, and we thought maybe a red light would make it pop, so we used the brake lights of my car.
This is the perfect example of how the location can be the starting point of an image. This one is from an editorial I shot for a Portuguese magazine called Observador Lifestyle. The editorial was supposed to be part of a story that featured this location, Palácio do Grilo. So we had to work from the location to pick the right model, and the styling and makeup. We didn’t want it to be super conventional or commercial and I am super glad we took that path. I love how all the tones come together and how her hair matches the walls and the natural light makes it look almost like a painting.