November 17, 2021
Photography by Nego Júnior
Interview by Melanie Meggs
Nego Júnior is an artist whose passion and commitment to creating art is undeniable. Through his photography and films, he brings to life the vibrant cultural heritage of the City of São Paulo. His expertise in digital design and business management, as well as his postgraduate degree in Media, Information and Culture, have enabled him to explore the depths of samba rock culture and to capture the beauty of its unique movements and expressions.
Every shot of Nego's work radiates with the illuminating joy that is found in samba rock culture. His work is known for its ethereal stills of dancers in their element, each one holding their own in a unique and beautiful way. Nego captures the moments of twirls and turns in the samba rock dancefloors, connecting them to ancient African musicality and body expression. His work has become a source of inspiration for other artistic and cultural movements, as it showcases the soulful energy of samba rock and its history.
Nego is also the founder of the collective Samba Rock Na Veia, being one of the protagonists that started the process of registering samba rock as an intangible cultural heritage of the city of São Paulo. Through his work, he brings to life the traditional sounds and movements of this culture with a creative eye and a vivid imagination.
Nego Júnior's work takes us on a journey through the vibrant world of samba rock, a world filled with music, dance and culture. With each image, he captures a timeless quality that speaks to our souls and inspires us to appreciate the beauty and richness of this culture.
“The suburbs, slums...call my attention and make me think about human relationships and how racism is cruel. Thinking about it gives me ammunition to defend myself and my people. Brazil has not cured itself of slavery, it is there.”
IN CONVERSATION WITH NEGO JÚNIOR
THE PICTORIAL LIST: Nego please tell us about yourself. How did you become interested in photography?
NEGO JÚNIOR: I was born and still live on the outskirts of São Paulo, the largest city in Brazil. I grew up in the most violent region of the country in the 1990s, the region known as Capão Redondo.
I started photographing when I started to have more contact with the black populations' dances here.
TPL: Talk to us about your series A-LUZ-CINANTE - Samba Rock? What do you want the viewer to experience and take away with them?
NJ: I want people to realise this “black magic”. This term here in Brazil is seen in a racist, prejudiced, pejorative way…And it is nothing more than the charm that black people have in celebrating their union.
TPL: Do you ever get burnt out creatively? Explain how you keep the creative energy flowing.
NJ: My ancestral connection with nature makes me have this energy. My ancestors deserve my effort.
TPL: What are some tips or advice you would give yourself if you started photography all over again?
NJ: Prefer a camera to a gun.
I've always worked with more visual things, photography, design, video…But love really comes from my spirituality and blackness.
TPL: Do you have any favourite artists and photographers?
NJ: Lázaro Roberto, Lita Cerqueira, Eliária Andrade and Jean-Claude Moschetti.
TPL: If you could just choose one photographer to shoot alongside for a day...who would you choose? And why?
NJ: Walter Firmo, he is an icon of Brazilian and world photography.
TPL: When you are out shooting - how much of it is instinctual versus planned?
NJ: I can't say, but my biggest quest is to know how much of this is spiritual?
TPL: Does the equipment you use help you in achieving your vision in your photography? What camera do you use? Do you have a preferred lens/focal length?
NJ: I've always used Canon input cameras and only recently had my first camera from this brand with a full frame sensor. I usually use what I call a basic, a 50mm and sometimes I shoot with a Rokinon 14mm wide angle.
TPL: Are there any special projects you are currently working on that you would like to let everyone know about? What are some of your goals as an artist or photographer? Where do you hope to see yourself in five years?
NJ: I'm working on a series that talks about the ego within the African matrix religions here in Brazil, creating a relationship of this with the whitening of these cults. My goal is for us to win this visual war where black bodies are not still hit with bullets but clicks of a camera.
TPL: "When I am not out photographing, I (like to)…
NJ: I'm sleeping as I don't depend on the camera to take pictures."
Nego Júnior is a passionate artist whose work celebrates the cultural heritage of São Paulo and the soulful energy of samba rock. His stunning images showcase the unique movements and expressions of this traditional style of dance, as well as its history and its impact on other artistic and cultural movements. Nego's work is a reminder to us of the beauty and richness of samba rock culture and how it speaks to our souls.