The soft accent does not deny the origins – Leo Faria is a son of Uberlândia, Brazil. Passionate about photography, as a teenager he studied Graphic Arts and followed with training in Advertising.
It was in college that he had the first and only contact with photography in a more formal and technical way. But truly, he is a self-taught in photography, which guarantees the freedom of language and personality of his photos.
Before the photography came into his life he worked in seven advertising agencies, as the head of his own agency, and he also taught Creative and Photography classes to university students. Spending time behind the camera was a result of successive frustrations with photographers who did not meet his expectations.
It was, therefore, that 12 years ago, he opted to dedicate himself exclusively to photography. Fashion had always been present in his publicity work and throughout his solo career in photography, but four years ago, in a kind of schizophrenic fusion between the fashion universe and the streets, street style photography came into his life and started a real revolution. The unpredictability of the streets created a virtuous cycle between the contradiction of the mundane and the complexity of fashion and allowed him to move between campaigns for brands and editorials for magazines and more recently in experiments with the world of art.
In 2016, he received the April Award for Journalism for Best Fashion Photography of the Year. He frequently shoots editorials for Elle Brasil magazine and in 2017, he won his first solo exhibition during SPFW at the São Paulo Biennial with the Equals series, his major work on street style.
Senior Global Fashion Curator Oksana Vig recently sat down with Faria to discuss his successes, his routine (he doesn’t believe in routine), his business model and the fashion industry.
OV: Where does your love for photography come from?
LF: My father is a photographer. The great hobby of his life has always been photography and it was from him that my passion for photography arose.
OV: There is a huge difference between having passion for photography and building an empire. You are building a legacy thanks to the management of Vagner Fernandes who prioritized the business side of your vocation. How has Vagner structured your career?
LF: Vagner is responsible for all commercial strategy, partnerships and projects and I am responsible for the creative part. That is, we are a pair and we depend on each other. Vagner and I are extremely active, and while one creates, the other makes everything happen and this is a recipe that has guaranteed us good results.
OV: Do you think that every photographer should have a manager?
LF: Undoubtedly. This is extremely important, indeed, not just a manager, but a whole team of good professionals. Professional photography must be seen as any other business and thus, it depends on professionals from different areas.
OV: Today, what is the biggest challenge facing photographers in the business of fashion?
LF: Being original and copyrighted. Nowadays, I see many technically trained professionals, however, doing the same thing that other consecrated photographers have already done. The vast majority of the images seem to be copies of things seen in the past or very close re-readings. It seems to me that people get lost looking for references and stop creating.
OV: Usually, what is your favorite place to take photos?
LF: Any place that has people.
OV: In the fashion industry, you are nicknamed "The King of Street Style". Why did you focus on this category?
LF: I do not like labels. I am a photographer who likes the streets and for that reason most of my photos I do in the streets, but this is not a focus, but a preference. I also take a lot of photos in my studio, and I do the same in other circumstances.
OV: For the first time after 24 years, Saõ Paulo Fashion Week has just innovated by offering the public a large exhibition of your works.
LF: This invitation brings me great joy, especially because of the exhibition being from a series that I created with the intention of criticizing super exposition and egocentrism in these digital times. This is a series that has surprised me every day, after the Saõ Paulo Fashion Week I have been looking for art galleries wanting to market this seriously. This was something I never imagined for my career.
OV: If there are two things that everyone mentions about you, it's your humility and your kindness. Why have you never changed in spite of all your success?
LF: Maybe it's because I do not believe in success.
OV: You have a tattoo that pays tribute to someone very special in your life. Who is this person? Why did you decide to honor her memory?
LF: I have a tattoo in honor of my Grandmother. It was and always will be my great love story and it was certainly the greatest loss I've ever had in my life to this day.
OV: You are firmly committed to the fight against cancer…
LF: It is impossible not to be sensitive to everyone's story. Children are the ones that shock me the most.
OV: What are your travel essentials?
LF: In my suitcase, my Power Bank battery backup is never missing… and at least two cameras and four lenses. All the rest I (that’s missing) I arrange along the trip.