If kitesurfing has become so popular, it is also due to the work of some professional photographers who immortalize the deeds of the pro riders. One of these is the Brazilian Andre Magarao who in this exclusive interview tells us about his work, the equipment he uses and the tricks of the trade.
- Andre, how can you describe with few words to those who do not know you yet?
I'm a quiet guy and I like to think I'm pretty relaxed. Being a photographer involves some stress let's face it. But it is hard to say that I am stressed when I work at the beach. If you've never seen me, I'm pretty easy to spot: I'm the weird guy who brings too much beach equipment.
- You are very qualified in addition to your professional photographic background. How do you mix your marketing studies with your work as a professional photographer?
I went to college and I did an MBA. On one hand it does not mix at all. Before I had a normal job and I stopped going after becoming a photographer. But on the other hand being a photographer is like being a brand, so there are many marketing and business concepts that you can apply to yourself.
- How did your involvement in photography and in the kitesurfing sector come about?
I arrived at photography very early. My father had a SLR camera with which I started playing. I started taking photos and videos of kiteboarding at a later time, when I met Reno Romeu in Rio. We became good friends and we started working together.
- You can talk about your favorite equipment to shoot in the water and what is the main difficulty for you in this environment?
Well, to take pictures in the water you need a good waterproof case. I have tested many brands and to be honest I do not have a favorite one. Each brand seems to have positive and negative aspects. You have to choose what works best for you and your goals.
- You were born in Rio de Janeiro and then moved to Canada, the United States and New Zealand. You probably still travel a lot. How do all these countries appear in front of your camera lens?
Traveling is the best way to learn and experience new things. I definitely learned a lot from traveling as well as from studying or working abroad. Every place has its uniqueness and, as a photographer, I always try to capture it. I'm always looking for new adventures. I would say that the best inspirations and ideas come from the places you least expect.
- What is the philosophy that you included in your work?
I always try to do my best. Kiteboarding has this very unique aspect when it comes to water sports that you can set up shooting with the rider, just like I do for example in skateboarding. So I would say that for me a big reason behind a good shot is the communication with the rider. If the photographer and the rider are really aware of each other's goals, I'm sure something good will come out of it. So I try to explain to the rider what I'm looking for in that particular shot and I also try to listen to his needs. A lot of times there are a lot of compromises on both sides for the shots to be as good as the ones you see in the magazines. Sometimes the kiter have to go where the wind is not the best just because the background is nice or something. But that communication is what allows me to shoot with big studio flashes. The rider has to do a certain trick and maybe that's an ideal point to make the flashes work well. Usually we make a few attempts and, after getting what we are looking for, we move on to a different trick and a different flash configuration. Of course at the end of the day the shot that strikes me the most is the one with which I and the rider are both happy. I also try to be open-minded and put myself in situations where I do not feel comfortable. I try to resume as many things as possible. There are a lot of photographic techniques I learned from skateboarding shoots.
- Working in the kitesurf sector, you meet many professional riders. Do you have any funny or just curious stories about them? Who do you like best with?
Not as many as you would expect. Everyone in kiteboarding is really kind and professional. There are always good stories for sure. Since I work a lot in Brazil, there are always those stories of the buggy you know: get stuck, break the car in the middle of nowhere on the beach with the rising tide, things like that. But other than that, everyone is pretty sweet and relaxed.
- Can you describe how the way of photographing kitesurfing has changed in the last 5 years?
I think the cameras have evolved a lot in the last few years. And this plays an important role in the way we work together. Different tools allow the photographer to do different things. And even just mutual trust. I've worked with the same guys for several years now. So there's a lot more mutual trust now. I know everyone knows how I work. So things are easier and smoother now.
- Do you have any special projects you are planning or particular jobs you want to share with us?
I always try to keep this part of the year open so I can work as much as possible with kiteboarding. This season I shot with some riders with whom I have always shot and this was very productive. I also worked with Slingshot. I imagine one of the most memorable sessions of the season was with Ruben Lenten in a place I had never seen before. I also shot with the KPL guys and it was impressive to see what they can do on the kickers. Now I'm attending the World Kiteboarding Championship, watching my friends compete and trying to help the Brazilian clubs in the qualifiers.