SWPA shortlisted photographer on skate subculture in Brazil

April 10, 2015

The World Photography Organisation interviews Ronaldo Land, shortlisted in this year’s Sony World Photography Awards Professional Sport category. Land has set the mark for photographic work on the skate scene and subculture.


Congratulations on being shortlisted in the Professional Sports category of the 2015 Sony World Photography Awards with your series ‘Shadow city’. Tell us a little about yourself – when and why did you become a photographer?

I am Brazilian and 33 years old. I have been a skater for 16 years and a videomaker for 12. I started to make photos on the streets of Rio de Janeiro. Photography arose because of a necessity to get better results from the vídeos that I made. After this I went to study cinema and the photography aspect of my practice became the focus of my studies.

‘Shadow City’ feels as much about the geometry and atmosphere of a city as it does about skateboarding or sport in general. What was your approach when shooting the series?  

The intention was to show other side of Rio; the edges and organic silhouettes of natural landscapes, for a hard and geometric image and it also extended the light, exchanged that soft light of the sunset on the beaches that everyone knows for a hard light. It ended up taking a little bit of the focus from the skating and made more evident the center of the city.




Tell us about your relationship with Rio de Janeiro in particular.

I was born in Rio de Janeiro and skateboarding forced me to frequent every corner of this city, from the poorest, to the richest neighborhoods. I have a very realistic and critical vision of my hometown.

Why did you choose to shoot in black and white?

I already realized some works in color through my vídeos and I realised that colour is not an easy element to work with. Because my photography is done in the external environment and I don’t have any control over the elements, I prefer black and white. Moreover, I am a huge fan of german expressionism and noir cinema.

Do you have a photographic philosophy?

I don’t go out to search for a nice photo with a single moment; I see in every photo a piece of a puzzle and these pieces come together to tell a narrative. In other types of art such as drawing and painting, the identity of their work is almost in the DNA of the artist, at the movements, at the traces that defines a lot of the identity of their work. Photographers have a mechanical or electronic element between us and our goal, which facilitates on the one hand, but on the other hand hinders. We must be careful not to fall into the comfort zone, and I think that’s my biggest search for an identity in my work, a signature.

Can you tell us about a current or future project you’re working on?

I’m working on more projects with skateboarders, which is the unfolding of the work that  I presented in SWPA and I intend to incorporate some colour work and work with more unusual views and frameworks.That’s all I can reveal.




Check out more of Ronaldo Land’s work on his Instagram, and stay tuned for the World Photography Organisation’s next interview, coming next Friday!


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