Moving on to the third interview in partnership with Puma, we talked to Lucas, sneakerhead and photographer. Lucas talks about how his interest for sneakers came from skateboarding and also from his love for photography. Besides, Lucas told us how he expresses his individuality – which is using his characteristic language for each image he produces.
“I’m Lucas Marco, I’m 28, I am from the countryside of São Paulo, São José dos Campos, and I work with photography and filming.”
Do you remember when your interest for photography began?
I’ve been skating since I’m 12, and when I was younger there was that whole thing where, skate shoes are for skating and going out shoes are for going out, because the ones for skating would obviously get wrecked. During the 2000s, my city wouldn’t get a lot of branded sneakers, until one day the Puma Suede arrived. Then the B-Boys that hung out with us, who also skated, used to switch with us: the B-Boys would wreck the outsoles and skaters wrecked it the sides. Then we would switch. I got their sneakers with the wrecked soles but that were good on the sides, and I could skate, and so the other way around. This trade created a huge community.
And then I started getting involved with the whole break, rap, MC photography, I photographed shows and parties for a long time. So I kind of pulled it all together. And my interest for photography came up when I would go out to skate and there was no one to take photos. I loved to looking at magazines, watching videos and there was no one doing that stuff where I skated. Then at some point I borrowed a small camera from my cousin, an old Sony Cybershot, and began clicking. I loved that fish eye effect, but I knew that I needed the lense for that, that back then was too expensive. So I took the door’s peephole lense, cut it and mount it on the Sony. It gave a huge fish eye effect, it was tacky and weird, but it’s what we had. This was in 2003, 2004. It was something that changed my life. I used to do a lot of photos of the boys skating with that and so I kept shooting and kept going, and nowadays it is my profession. Basically everyone I know is a photographers or lives off of it.
Another thing that I really like to photograph is architecture. I really like lines, I’ve always been obsessed with symmetry and aligned things, patterns, straight stuff. One of the first things I learned in photography is the horizon line. So I always kept everything straight, and got me photographing architecture and things that kind of thing. And then I got in to the business and back in my city it works very well for me, I know many architects and different projects.
For this project with PUMA, we selected four people that are very authentic on what they do and with their jobs. How do you show your individuality through your work with photography?
The first point is what I said about architecture, I really like straight things and lines. So I take a lot of it to myself – if you see a crooked photo, it’s not mine, I don’t like anything crooked. I am very symmetrical, aligned, and I like everything straight, I’ll go to Lightroom and put everything in place. Even when I photograph with the fish eye I like everything straight. It’s what I bring in my work and what makes it look like me in my photographs.
MY ONLY INTENTION WITH PHOTOGRAPHY IS TO HELP OTHER PEOPLE IN NEED TO PHOTOGRAPH. SPECIALLY WHERE I LIVE, THERE ARE ONLY ONE OR TWO THAT DO IT, BUT THE YOUNGER KIDS DON’T HAVE MONEY TO BUY A CAMERAS, THEY DON’T HAVE ANY REFERENCE, DON’T HAVE PEOPLE TO TALK TO. AND, WHEN I STARTED, I HAD NOTHING. I ALWAYS WANTED TO BE THE REFERENCE FOR THE KIDS FROM WHERE I LIVE. THE GUYS COME UP TO ME AND SAY: “LUCAS, I WANT THOSE LENSES, DO YOU HAVE THEM?” “YES, COME UP TO MY STUDIO TO TEST THEM.”
Where would you like to get to or where do you want to go with photography?
My only intention with photography is to help other people in need to photograph. Specially where I live, there are only one or two that do it, but the younger kids don’t have money to buy a cameras, they don’t have any reference, don’t have people to talk to. And, when I started, I had nothing. I always wanted to be the reference for the kids from where I live. The guys come up to me and say: “Lucas, I want those lenses, do you have them?” “Yes, come up to my studio to test them.”
I done expositions, a book, and all that shit I’ve done, it didn’t change my life at all. But the day this little dude came up to me, I cry just talking about it. There is a dude that worked with me, and one day we were up in the studio and he came up to me and said: “you know that if you hire me, you’ll lose a lot of work, right?” And I asked him why, and he said: “because I’m black, some places that you go to, I can’t go”. I said what the fuck was he talking about, that it wouldn’t happen. And he works with me until this day. And everywhere I go, if I can, I take 2 or 3 guys with me.
Sometimes, they come up like “I wanna learn how to do this”. Let’s go, we’ll go together, I’ll teach you. So my vibe was always to kind of bring someone with me, I never really liked to be alone. If I have to photograph in New York, I want to go, but I don’t want to go alone. If it is to photograph a wedding in my city, I also want to go, but I’m not coming alone. My thing has always been to have someone with me that I can help and that can help me back. There are some simple kids out there whose references are their brothers who sell drugs or are arrested, or the father who they never met, or whoever that also are arrested, or that guy from his street who died. This is their references. There is little perspective. And when the guys see that you can make a living out of photography, that you can go to other places and meet the people from this circle, they like it. I want to go up to this friend of mine and say: “you can do it anywhere, you can photograph anywhere, if you have the will”.
What is your relationship with sneakers in general?
I always liked skate sneakers my whole life, those bigger ones. And when I got older, and realised that walking with those would only give me back problems, knee problems, I started to look for more comfortable options. Nowadays I care a lot about my comfort, and due to the fact that I can wear sneakers anywhere, I wear them for everything, I don’t really like to have them inside boxes. I don’t have DS shows, because I feel bad for using them and end up selling them.
I really like sneakers from people who I admire, such as Flavio Samelo’s, who is a huge photography reference for me – I got the Dunks and even got the dude’s autograph, and this is priceless for me. I cried when I brought him the sneakers. My town wouldn’t get cool sneakers like that. And when this one came, I was all like “dude, what the hell, this sneaker is from a photographer”. Everything I want is to take photos and have sneakers. But anyway, time went by, I bought some sneakers, and you see that you have 12 pairs, and then 20 pairs, and then 30 pairs. And so it goes. I have a lot of pairs and wear them all.
So that’s kind of my relationship with this. I have sneakers so I can use them and to live some experiences, so I always remember each sneaker when I look at the box, who I bought them from, who I traded with, where I wore them, if it was a cool moment. I don’t remember how much I paid. I only remember who, where and when I used them.
SO THAT’S KIND OF MY RELATIONSHIP WITH THIS. I HAVE SNEAKERS SO I CAN USE THEM AND TO LIVE SOME EXPERIENCES, SO I ALWAYS REMEMBER EACH SNEAKER WHEN I LOOK AT THE BOX, WHO I BOUGHT THEM FROM, WHO I TRADED WITH, WHERE I WORE THEM, IF IT WAS A COOL MOMENT. I DON’T REMEMBER HOW MUCH I PAID. I ONLY REMEMBER WHO, WHERE AND WHEN I USED THEM.
You customized sneakers for a while. How did it begin?
This is another weird story that goes back to skateboarding and that thing about things always having to be straight. I used to skateboard and the sneakers would tear apart. And one day I took a beat up sneaker and fixed it up. I would used silver tape, or rubber on the sides and paint it with the shoe’s color to make it look just right. And then I started to restore stuff. One day, my friend said: “I have a Solar Red Yeezy, that the cleaning lady put in the washing machine, and it lost all its color. Do you want to fix it?” And I said: “bro, I never messed with other people’s shoes before, but hand them over”. I took them and it ended up perfect. Then he sold it for R$9.000, but no problem.
After some friends started showing up: “I got a Jordan IV here at home that the mid sole is peeling off, can you fix it?” And I said: “Yes, send it over”, and would completely restore the sneaker. And there came another: “Lucas, my suedes are dirty and I can’t clean them”. And I knew that you clean suede with rubber, and after a harder sponge, the fur comes out and you can clean it. “Lucas, the sole of my Air Max crackled”. And I took off all the paint and painted again. I had a huge paint arsenal, I felt like a fucking artist with that stuff.
And after the idea came up of customizing white shoes accordingly with what I found cool. For example, I grabbed an Ultraboost and painted with the Asics Koi colors. Grabbed a Yeezy and painted it with Tiffany colors. And so I began doing customs. It’s hard work with little comeback and it consumes a lot of time. I worked with photography the entire day in the studio, came back home and had sneakers to fix all night – this was the time I was basically not sleeping. And then I thought I had to put my priorities in place, what was giving me money at the moment? Photography? Then I put the shoe stuff aside. But I really fucking liked doing it.
What do you think of the sneaker culture nowadays?
I think it’s a clique, you know? For me, the guy that likes sneakers is different from the one who consumes sneakers. The one who consumes wants to be a part of the group. He thinks: “well, I like sneakers, I’ll start buying and I’ll hang out with people who also like, I’ll belong”. Then he pulls up with an exclusive pair at a party where everyone is wearing regular shoes and he feels like he’s the king, sees himself as an idol. But the one who likes sneakers doesn’t really care. After a while that you really start enjoying it, you look at your friends shoes and acknowledges how awesome that is. Or if someone is wearing a shitty one, you do the same. After a while, when you really like sneakers, you don’t even look at people’s feet. You don’t really care if they are wearing a nice pair.
I would say that after a while – of course, sneakers brought these people together – but it isn’t the main reason they get together. You hang out with sneakerheads, but there is a doctor, a designer, a businessman, someone who works in a bank. Then, you talk about many other things, sneakers aren’t part of that anymore. At some point, you mention a release, but it isn’t the main subject. You get together, talk about beer, fashion, how hard it is to have plants indoors. Sneakers aren’t the main subject anymore, when you really start to like not only the shoes, but also the people around all of that.