Dear Chris Gampat,

 

I followed the directions of the "We Want to Feature Your Photography" page, but, as I usually find it difficult to talk about myself, I found it would be easier if I gave you (most of) the information required through a single write up. Some questions not included in the write up were answered at the end.
 

 

I'm a Brazilian photographer living in São Paulo. I'm publishing my first photobook and thought it might be of your readers' interest to know about it. Here's why:

 

The pictures from Learning to Die were made by me between 2014 and 2017 and depict the audience of heavy rock concerts in its most different and extreme variations. The book is divided into three chapters and its photos relate obliquely to a short story 24-page booklet of the same name included in the book.

Made up with 42 black and white photographs throughout 64 pages in a 16 x 17.5 cm format, the book is printed on high-quality Italian paper by Ipsis Gafica, a reference in graphic quality and production of photography books in Brazil. All pictures, the story and the graphic design are made by myself.
 

The short piece Learning to Die tells the story of difficult times in the relationship between a man and his son following a troubled separation. A short summary:

Miguel believed he had the answers to most of life's questions and that he could control most of his own destiny. After separating from Pedro's mother, a woman affected by a psychiatric disorder who tries in many ways to undermine the relationship between him and his son, and struggling with a slow and ineffective judicial system, Miguel has to admit that this control doesn't exist.
In this story of many losses in which Miguel's life is shaken from all sides, he holds to anything he and his son share in common. If, for many fathers and sons, these moments of connection are linked to sports, for Miguel and Pedro they're in the chaos of a mosh pit.

 

 

Some context:

I have a wide range of interests in Photography, but my heart lies mostly in the documentary field. I'm also an amateur musician and music fan, so it was natural for me to bring together my love for music and photography and start shooting concerts.

 

Every concert is a challenge. The musicians are always moving, the lighting is constantly changing and people are jumping and dancing around you. Even when you can predict that moment when the musician will make the right pose or face, you always have to count on luck to get a good photo. I love it.

 

I started a blog, two years ago, where I used to post my concert photos along with small reviews (https://fotografistademusica.wordpress.com/ - in Portuguese). With time, I created another publication, this time in English, where I do the same, attempting to bring attention to some outstanding Brazilian musicians and bands (https://medium.com/brazilian-stages).

 

In 2015 (before creating the blogs), I was shooting the concert of the American thrash metal band Exodus in São Paulo. The audience was particularly wild and I was being shaken a lot, so my attention was drawn to them. By the end of the concert, when the band played the song "Strike of the beast", the audience performed the "wall of death", an event in which the crowd splits up into two columns and, after a countdown, the columns run at each other. It was amazing. From that time on, half of the pictures I shot on every metal concert I attended to was made facing the crowd instead of the stage. With time, it grew to a photo essay and then to a photobook.

 

Gear and technique: Most pictures were made with a Nikon D610 with a Sigma 24-70mm 2.8 DG HSM, my go-to lens, but some were made with 24 and 35mm Nikon lenses on the same camera and with a Canon G-12. To get the wild and sometimes spooky looks of the photos, I used slow shutter speeds and the lowest ISO possible according to light conditions. It was tricky to get the right shutter speed due to the changing lights.

 

Interesting facts:

  • The crowd seems very aggressive and the violence seems real, but it's rare that somebody gets hurt. In spite of the aggressive faces and gestures, it's all a cathartic experience where everybody goes to the show to scream and let their inner energy flows freely. I've seen on a number of times somebody falling to the floor and people around stopping moving to help the person getting up.
  • To get these photos, I usually stand right into the pit. I try to stand by its borders to avoid being pushed or kicked. Even so, it's frequent that I get caught in the frenzy. It's not a war zone, but it has its risks.
  • I composed, played and recorded the music for the videos related to the campaign. I'm not a heavy metal musician, so I had to learn some chops to get it right. It was fun. 
  • I also created an Instagram account where I'm posting pictures that didn't make it to the book. I'm posting one picture a day until 2019.07.13, the World Rock Day. https://www.instagram.com/365rockheadz/

 

I think the text above answers some of the questions you've asked. Here are the answers to the other ones:

 

Why did you get into photography?
I'm into Photography and Visual Arts since my teens. Inspired by Cartier-Bresson, I bought my first camera - a Nikon FM2, which I still own - at 18 with the money I got from my first job. I've been shooting on and off for years until 2012, when I decided to give proper importance to important things, Photography among them.

 

What photographers are your biggest influences?
There are too many great Photographers that inspire me one way or another, but I could mention Henri Cartier-Bresson, Araquém Alcântara, Sebastião Salgado, Elliott Erwitt, Josef Koudelka, Roger Ballen, Irvin Penn, Saul Leiter, Ernst Haas, Paul Strand and more recently Mary Ellen Mark, Alec Soth, Martin Parr, and Cristina de Middel as big influences.

 

How long have you been shooting?
31 years.

 

Why is photography and shooting so important to you?
I like to create things visually and Photography is a powerful tool to do it. Of course, Photography can also be a way to express an opinion, to call people's attention to or to make a stand about 
something you think is important. Apart from all that, I would be making pictures just because It feels good to get a good picture of something that's happening right before me.

 

Do you feel that you’re more of a creator or a documenter? Why?
Both. I think I approach my subjects with a "documentarist mind", mostly observing and trying to register the facts. Anyway, every photo is a document AND an opinion, since it also reflects the photographer's background and beliefs. I like Max Pinckers' "speculative documentary" expression as an accurate definition of the field of action of a creator-documenter.

 

What’s typically going through your mind when you create images? Tell us about your processes both mentally and mechanically?
I think I'm a project-oriented person. There are some visual patterns and subjective themes that get my attention because they're interesting for a number of personal reasons. Those patterns and themes are eventually gathered into projects and, hopefully, books.

 

Want to walk us through your processing techniques?
I try to get the most of the final picture on the act of shooting and leave the processing to a minimum, usually tweaking the sliders on Lightroom or Photoshop for less than a minute for each photo. If I have the time, I try to compose in a way that all I want is in the frame so I don't have to crop it afterward. For this project, though, I had to crop most of the photos. With so many things happening around me in the mosh pit, it was impossible for me to get near the subject, compose and then press the shutter. It took me a lot of tweaking to find the midtones I was looking for, too.

 

List a number of your websites

 

https://www.imagemakingdevice.com/
 

https://twitter.com/daveraphoto
 

https://www.facebook.com/marcelodavera
 

http://google.com/+MarceloDavera
 

https://www.flickr.com/photos/marcelodavera/
 

https://www.instagram.com/marcelo.davera

 

 

Explain why the readers want to see your work., or why your project is really cool.

 

There are other (but surprisingly not too many) photography projects about people that attend to rock concerts. My project has some singularities, though.

 

First, there's a dialogue between images and text. The photobook and the booklet are two separate bodies of work that stand by themselves but have a connection, each chapter of one corresponding to a section of the other. This conversation is more about mood than description.

 

Second, the photos explore the ambiguity inherent to the nature of Photography in which an image can be one thing or another entirely different, even opposed. This ambiguous nature leaves to the readers the translation of the sensations they get from each piece according to their own background.

 

As a reference, two similar works exploring the interconnection between Photography and words I could mention are House of Coates, by Brad Zellar and Alec Soth and Love on the Left Bank, by Ed Van Der Elsken. 

 

Finally, here are ten photos from the book:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Thanks!

Marcelo Garcia