Nobody’s Nobodies
Project info

The use of colored stripes over faces speaks to the candid shots of the bathers on Rio's beaches. This was the humorous and sensual way I found to discuss use and image control these days. It's a reflection on identity and image ownership in the public space.

My desire to return to shooting full frame and up close to a scene, with no obstacles, and far away from the threat of court proceedings, was decisive. The stripe allowed me the freedom to openly practice photography in an era when it's no longer possible without the prior permission of the people photographed.

A primer on how to take candid shots on the beaches of Rio.

1. So you don’t have to give all sorts of explanations, keep moving, be discreet, use auto focus, and stick to taking only horizontal photos. Rotating the arms to vertical format draws attention and gives away the shot.

2. Be tolerant of bathers, vendors, and police. They’re unaware of their artistic motivations.

3. If you notice that you’re being observed by a suspect individual, make gestures that simulate you’re communicating with someone from a distance. It might work.

4. Always keep in mind the phrase Banksy, the English street artist, uses concerning his actions in public spaces: "It’s always easier to get forgiveness than permission."

5. One way to protect the identity of the people you photograph is to apply small geometric figures over their faces. This can often produce a curious and ironic aesthetic. For examples, you can refer to the poetic works of the Hungarian artist, László Moholy-Nagy, and the American, John Baldessari.

Good luck.

— Rogério Reis