Andre Magarao

2021 Professional Sports Photographer Of the Year

Q: Tell us a little bit about your background!

My interest in photography began during a time when I was also really into mountain biking. So I was mainly shooting the landscape of the places I got to go on my bike. Since biking is a sport that teaches you the importance of waking up early, I’ve also learnt to appreciate the beauty of that early morning light.

Since I’ve always been into sports it was a natural step to start shooting my friends doing sports. I quickly noticed that shooting during “the golden hour” led to shots I liked more. But then I started shooting sports like skateboarding. I quickly realized it’s very hard to talk skateboarders into waking up at 5am to get that good light. That was when I started studying artificial light.

Q: When was the moment you realized you have a passion for photography?

I got into photography because of my father. He was always shooting something. I’m actually from Brazil and at that time my parents had a country house in Brazil with lots of scenic spots around it. So I just started shooting scenic shots. That was back in the film days.

Q: Do you ever have trouble getting inspired? What do you do when moments like this arise?

I do. I think everyone does. Or at least I hope everyone does. Haha. I usually get inspired by getting out of my little bubble and go exploring something different. Maybe try a different genre of photography or watch a movie. I’m really into documentaries, it’s really interesting to see how other people see the world and how they deal with the challenges at their jobs.

Q: What would you say is the hardest thing about photography?

Maybe the business side of photography is the hardest. It’s hard when you have to deal with someone that doesn’t understand how hard photography is or how time consuming editing can be.

Q: You have been chosen Sports Photographer of the Year for your work, “Action and Light.” Can you tell us a bit more about how this idea and this project came to your mind?

Well, first of all, thank you so much. It’s a huge honor to get this award! This idea started a really long time ago to be honest. And I’ve been working on it for a while trying to improve a bit every time. When I first started shooting sports I was more involved with sports that work well early in the morning when the light is really nice like surfing and cycling. As I got more into it I quickly realized I needed to figure out ways to get shots I was stoked on even if the light wasn’t quite so perfect so I started studying artificial lights. It’s tricky to shoot sports with artificial lights because photography equipment is not really designed to be on some muddy hillside shooting mountain biking or by the beach with 20 miles an hour winds shooting kiteboarding. So picking the right gear becomes really important.

Q: What was the most notable memory for you when you were shooting this project?

The moon shot for sure. There is quite a bit of planning that goes into those sessions. It’s particularly hard for the rider too. He needs to perform his/her trick on this exact spot so he/she is in the right place in relation to the flashes and the moon. It’s dark, there aren’t many points of reference. So there is a lot of communication that goes on between myself and the rider. It can get hectic.

Q: For this project, you had to photograph in many types of locations and terrains. Which one would you say was the easiest to capture? The hardest?

Anything that involves water is harder. It’s tricky to place the flashes where you need and then you need to have the camera in a waterhousing, there is some swimming involved. But I would say though that everything that involves water looks cooler. On the other hand, BMX is a little easier. You can place the flashes wherever you want, the ramps are not going anywhere either so it feels a bit more like a regular studio shoot.

Q: Why did you decide on entering this particular project into the IPA?

Shooting sports is definitely my favorite thing to do. So it’s by far the project I have more fun shooting. Maybe that’s why it’s also my favorite one to show.

Q: What does winning this competition mean to you?

It means a lot! It’s an awesome piece of news in the middle of a pretty tricky time for me with all the covid restrictions. My life was basically turned upside down by the pandemic. I would say that the pandemic affected me quite heavily since most of my jobs before it involved traveling around.

Q: Is Sports photography your main passion, or do you enjoy taking photos in other genres too?

I enjoy many aspects of photography and I actually think that the different genres in photography are what makes photography so interesting. I’m always trying to shoot something new. But yeah, sports photography is my main passion for sure. If I could I would shoot every day!

Q: If you could do anything or go anywhere, what would your dream photography project be?

That’s a hard one. There are so many cool things to do in photography. But to be honest I’m just hoping that things go back a little bit more back to normal so we can travel more again and explore new places, find new lights. But to answer your question I definitely want to go to Iceland sooner than later.

Q: What is next for you, are you working on anything right now?

I’m trying to find as many jobs as I can here in Orange County, where I’m living at the moment. But I’m looking forward to things opening up and traveling again.