And to kick off our new website, today we’re going to talk a little bit about Pedrita’s story. Born in Itajaí Santa Catarina, and a graduate in graphic design, today she works as a photographer and creative and has done work for brands like Nike, adidas, Colcci, and others. We went down to her studio, Flyz, to talk about her carrier and the influence that sneakers have had in her life. We talked about some models that have been important to her and how she saw her first Etnies embodied in this Air Jordan IV ‘Starfish’.
“My name is Pedrita, I am 33 years old and I’m a photographer. I’m from Itajaí, in Santa Catarina, and I have been living in São Paulo for 9 years now. I came to São Paulo with the idea of working with photography and here I am, talking to you guys in my own studio in the centre of city. Having my own studio – Flyz, is a huge achievement for me.
When and how did you become interested in photography? And what was the path to get to where you are now?
pedrita In 2009 I graduated in graphic design back in my town. I used to make designs for pizza joints, brands, real estate companies, construction companies and so on. I’ve also did a lot of printed materials and decoration magazines, because that’s the type of market from where I’m from. When I finished college, I thought that I would stay in my hometown forever working with those things and that would be it for me. I was only 20 back then right?
Then I decided to go after an English course in London. I planned everything and went to live and study there for 10 months. Since it was a mourning course, from 9am until 12am, I took the opportunity to also take other courses like communication in design and illustration, and in portrait photography. Back then I only shot with an analog camera because it was accessible, the role of film was £1 and to get it developed was another £1. I took pictures of how my life was like over there, my friends, the landscapes, the fun, of everything. Then one day my friend Robson who’s a photographer told me “A friend of mine needs someone to take some pictures and make a making-of video for a music video, go out there and do it”, so I did and loved it.
“When I came back to Brazil in 2010 I was thinking about not working with graphic design anymore, it demanded too many hours in front of the computer, and I wanted to work with something where I could travel, a job that could be done in any part of the world. When I came back to itajaí I contacted some people from Colcci, showed them these pictures and videos I did and they liked it, so I started to produce this kind of BTS material for them. Back at that time, Colcci was working on big productions in places like Los Angeles with Steven Klein and they took me along to produce the making-of material.“
When I came back to Brazil in 2010 I was thinking about not working with graphic design anymore, it demanded too many hours in front of the computer, and I wanted to work with something where I could travel, a job that could be done in any part of the world. When I came back to itajaí I contacted some people from Colcci, showed them these pictures and videos I did and they liked it, so I started to produce this kind of BTS material for them. Back at that time, Colcci was working on big productions in places like Los Angeles with Steven Klein and they took me along to produce the making-of material. I saw great photographers and great names from the fashion market, at work. I realized right away that that’s what I wanted to do, to be a photographer.
Back then, since I was already traveling, I took the opportunity to work on some editorials for their magazine, Colcci Mag. I went to Los Angeles, Buenos Aires and many years in a row to New York, it was great! Everything that has happened to me comes from a lot of hard work, as well as other people’s trust on what I do. I’ve always been eager to learn.
In 2012 I moved to São Paulo and in the meantime, I met Dando from Way Model and his brother, Fabio Bartelt, who is a photographer and to whom I worked as an assistant for about 2 and a half years. He had 3 assistants – eventually the first and the second one left and I ended up as the first assistant for about a year – I took care of all the details, and I learned a lot about how the market works. Fabio used to work with big companies and magazines, he’d always produce covers for Elle and Vogue, and that’s how I got to know how it all worked at that time – I mean that because the market from 10 years ago is very different than today and that’s actually a good thing.
At the same time, I was also producing editorials for Colcci and for Coca-cola Jeans. I was an assistant, but I also tried to keep up with my own work for my clients, the way I could.
I worked as an assistant for about two and a half years and at some point, I realized it wasn’t adding up anymore, I was simply delivering the demands, there was no challenge. I needed something to wake up, I don’t like to be in a comfort zone. When I was in my 20’s I thought “Oh no, my life’s over, I’ve finished college and I’m living in Itajaí”, I had never travelled abroad before, the market there didn’t have many opportunities, but I managed to find a way to change my situation. So, when I felt too comfortable in the assistant job, I realized it was time to change.
Besides, I was feeling upset because I would get home after a job, and I had nothing to call my own. Although it was hard work, I also had a good time being an assistant, I had many experiences, went to big productions and I’m a small person, who was taking part in it, learning about how it all worked, it was great. But I didn’t have anything I was responsible for. I had to take care of the equipment and transportation of course, but I was already handling that very well. That’s when I thought it was about time to shift things around.
“I’m completely conscious about the fact that everything I’m living today was only possible thanks to these clients who continuously invested in my work. It’s an investment – when you hire a professional, you’re not only purchasing their skill. You agree with this person, with their values, with their lifestyle, with everything. So, when a client calls me, I want to deliver the best material within what they need, and within what I like too.”
At that time, you were doing more campaigns or lookbooks?
pedrita I was doing both. Lookbooks are something I do with a lot of passion, even though I only do a few of them nowadays. But I happily produce them for the clients who have been with me since the beginning. Like with Tex Cotton from Blumenau, every year, twice a year, I go there and spend about 10 days shooting for them. I do the lookbook, with lots of looks per day and I do it all with a smile on my face. Same with Colcci, they get whatever they want from me, I always try to help in any way I can, and I do this with great pride.
I’m completely conscious about the fact that everything I’m living today was only possible thanks to these clients who continuously invested in my work. It’s an investment – when you hire a professional, you’re not only purchasing their skill. You agree with this person, with their values, with their lifestyle, with everything. So, when a client calls me, I want to deliver the best material within what they need, and within what I like too. They have many good options in the market to choose from and if they came to me, I must do my best.
What was the most important thing you’ve learned over these years you’ve been working with fashion?
pedrita I’m a photographer, I know about lighting, and I’m also a graphic designer – I use my background for my work. I always have in mind that there’s a delivery to be made and that the client has a product to sell. I understand there are many people making decisions in the same company – there’s marketing, there’s the sales department, there are open-minded people who want to change things around, there are some traditional people, who want things to remain the same – and I’m looking for the midfield, because I’m going to create the image of what they want to sell, and I want it to sell.
It’s a whole process. To get to the final product that I’m shooting, the client has to travel, has to do research, has to buy pilot pieces, get it modeled, has to research fabric, couture, thread, prints… There is a lot of hard work, sweat and energy that goes into that piece I’m shooting, so all that must be valued. I don’t mind if what the client has in his head does not match my personal work, what I want them to see is that their product is being valued, that the unit of my work has attitude as well as aesthetics. I don’t always use the same lighting, or colometry. I want to gather all the pieces from the puzzle, all expectations and deliver the best work I can.
We have been living quite a complicated time over this last year and a half because of COVID, which brought many challenges and changes into everyone’s lives. How did the pandemic affect your work?
pedrita I want to be more of an artist, but my vision of an artist is not that of being alone in the studio while drinking and going crazy… To me, the artist is kind of a scientist, you know. Trying different things, shooting the same object from many different angles, with different props and lights and making interventions. It’s about always believing in an idea, in a portrait, and doing a lot of research. That’s my idea of an artist.
During the pandemic I felt stuck, with a huge creative block. I couldn’t do anything because I was too stressed out to create something. This pandemic was a great shock, I think we were expecting a lot from 2020. Twenty twenty sounds like a good year, right? And whether you like it or not, jobs from 2019 were on a roll, then this whole thing happened, and I spent 5 months without taking a single picture. I was not used to not working, and I was also too confused to learn how to make bread (laughs). In the end I took some time for myself. We watched the entire “Naruto” and “Shippuden” series, and we also watched “The Godfather” many times, as well as other classic mafia movies (laughs).
It made me rethink many things because I was on autopilot, just constantly working on delivering material. I was about to start remodelling the studio and had to stop because of the pandemic. Over this period, I found new meaning to many things, such as how to manage my time, how to better invest and how the Flyz space would be like. I used to think I would be an entrepreneur and that the studio would be a company. But thanks to the pandemic my ideas now are aimed at creativity, research and collaborations with other artists. I want it to be something small, to make more collabs and to work on long term projects.
“During the pandemic I felt stuck, with a huge creative block. I couldn’t do anything because I was too stressed out to create something. This pandemic was a great shock, I think we were expecting a lot from 2020.“
“Besides renting it for photoshoots and castings, I intend to create workshops for female photographer groups, and to use the space to put on exhibitions for other artists too. I would like to call someone to come and work here as if it were a residency, something like: “let’s work together this month and by the end we’ll come up with an exhibition”, or to also work with a brand.“
Today we’re shooting in your own studio. What’s your idea for Flyz?
Pedrita Oh, I’m loving it because this is the first photo shoot I’m doing in the studio! Flyz is a hybrid, multi versatile space in the center of São Paulo. The front part is an empty space which can be used as a practical and efficient small studio, and my office is in the back. Besides renting it for photoshoots and castings, I intend to create workshops for female photographer groups, and to use the space to put on exhibitions for other artists too. I would like to call someone to come and work here as if it were a residency, something like: “let’s work together this month and by the end we’ll come up with an exhibition”, or to also work with a brand.
Take Suí for example. I’m passionate about Camila’s brand and we are planning to work together on a collection, produce the campaign and organize a weekend pop-up store here in the studio. So basically, that’s it, I want to mix all those things together. There’s also Mad Killa Crew’s practices taking place here every Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday nights and as soon as things get better with the pandemic, we’ll organize once a month a “Flyz and Mad Killa Invites” event, where we’ll call other Crews to train together.
In the meantime, I want to shoot many pictures and work on personal projects, take a week or two to make portraits of people around here. Literally stop people in the street and ask “hey, can I take a picture of you? Come here!”. I have a lot of expectations for my studio. For now, I’m only organizing things while the pandemic is still going on, but perhaps in 2022 I’ll have a 10-year reopening of Flyz. I have many ideas for my studio, but I want to take my time, without too much rush or anxiety, as it was before.
Now I see that I don’t need to wait for a client, or anyone to make a project happen, you know? I can do it slowly at my own pace. I think I delivered everything I wanted. I’ve already done so much, travelled a lot, conquered this space, so now I’m in another phase of collaborating.
Do you remember when your passion for sneakers first started? When was the moment that you saw a pair and felt that special “click”?
PedritaA sneaker I really liked was Qix, which just had a 20-year rerelease. During a Mad Killas training session, Donna came here, and I looked at her sneakers and said: “Oh wow! I had those a long time ago”. I was embarrassed to tell her that I had them like 20 years ago, I skated when I was 13 years old and now I’m 33. She’s 19. She wasn’t even born when I had these sneakers. Then she said: “Yeah, last year they relaunched as a celebration for its 20-year anniversary”. So, I was like “oh wow! This sneaker is 20 years old” (laughs). Mine was orange and hers were black. Besides Qix, when I was 13, I also had that chubby Mary Jane one which was very cool. It was around the Drop Dead era; I had a T-shirt I wore until there was nothing left to wear.
Then at the age of 16 I started to work and got to college – As I was one year ahead, I got into college early –, and stopped skateboarding. However, because I was working, I managed to buy a pair of Etnies, which actually even looked like this Jordan. Etnies was my first expensive sneaker, it cost half of my salary.
I also remember I really wanted to have that boot styled black Reebok with the velcros, you know? I remember I really liked them but never got to have them. I think I’d buy one today for sure.
And why did you choose your Air Jordan IV ‘Starfish’ for Kickstory?
pedritaThis is my first Air Jordan. I’m influenced by Branco. Whenever there’s like an amazing sneaker launch, he tells me “you must get them, you have to!” and I tell him “take it easy, I can’t!”, I can’t handle (laughs). I got this one this year – I saw it, liked it and managed to buy it. Which is also something tricky right? You have to get lucky if you want to buy them (laughs). As I said before, I love them because they remind me of the Etnies I had, as well as being very comfortable and look nice.
I like the heel, it’s beautiful and nicely structured. It also goes with a lot things, like right now I’m wearing social pants with them, and it looks dope; if I put on cargo pants, it also looks cool; if I put on a skirt, it stands out. This is like a statement sneaker.
Besides this Jordan IV, what other silhouettes are you also into?
pedritaI also use my all-black Nike Air Force a lot, I’ve even had four of the same. From 2012 to 2017 I wore only black. My whole closet was black, and I only used the black Air Force, it literally was the only sneakers I had. But that was something that came up from working with fashion, I’d think: “my God, they will find out I’m not fashionable enough”. I kind of had that impostor syndrome, you know. I’d dress myself in an all-black outfit, with black sneakers, hair tied up, always looking the same, pretty basic and with a jacket on so I would go unnoticed… it’s a crazy market. But from 2018 till now I started to add more colours to my outfits and then came the white Air Force. I didn’t have any white sneakers until I got a beautiful white AF for Christmas and got used to it.
Nowadays I dress in a basic and comfortable way that makes me feel good, but I don’t do crazy combinations. I also had those Rihanna Pumas with the tall midsole, it was the first one I used after the Air Force, it was completely black as well and I wore it until there was nothing left. Another one I have is the Air Force Shadow.
How do you see your relation to sneakers in general?
pedritaLook, sneakers are a temptation. I like to get one and wear them until the very end. But whenever we go to the mall, we look at the stores and daydream about sneakers. It’s a nice feeling you know, to choose a pair and get some socks to match. Sneakers are an addition and part of your personality.
I like to be ready for everything: in case I need to run away, to climb up the roof, or to skate – I can do it all in sneakers. If I’m at the studio but want to buy fabric for a background, I can quickly go to Santa Ifigênia, and afterwards I’ll run down to Vinte e Cinco to buy some electrical stuff and come back to the studio. Sneakers keep up with me very well in all these scenarios.
I’m only noticing now how lazy I was… I mean, four black Air Forces? I could have chosen other models, but I bought the same one (laughs).
Air Jordan IV ‘Starfish’
Photos: Julio Nery