Andre Magarao kiteboarding action photo gallery

Lens Master – Andre Magarao

Grandmaster flash, Andre Magarao’s eye for action has been cultured by the influences and flair of Brazilian BMX, skate and wakeboarding. Living in Rio his environment is busy, bustling and vibrant. Similarly, his kiteboarding shots are vividly raw and energetic. Our galleries in the magazine have been peppered with his shots for the last few years and in particularly it’s his use of a flash in broad daylight that helps his freestyle shots stand out so uniquely. Here’s more Magarao magic 


Where did you grow up?
Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. It’s a fun place to grow up. The city is really beautiful and has a strong beach / sports culture. I first got into photography because of the city. I enjoyed just going around shooting scenic spots. It’s also a place you can work your way into shooting surfing or skateboarding.

Where do you live?
Technically, I still live in Rio de Janeiro, but I try to travel as much as possible. I’m in California right now for example. If you are reading this and want me to go shoot you, just hit me up!

How old are you?
I’m 32.

What was your first camera?
A Pentax MX film camera – I learnt a lot from it. The whole process of dealing with film is a lot of fun. I wish I could carry more stuff on trips just so I could take some film gear, too.

What is your current camera set-up?
Right now I have a Canon 5D Mark III that I use most often. I also have a Canon 6D to shoot with the water housing. It’s a little lighter, makes swimming a bit easier and is what I use to shoot surfing or skimboarding. For lenses I have a Canon 8-15mm, a 16-35mm, a 24-105, a 70-200 and a prime 300mm – those big ones. I have a housing for a few different lenses, too; for a fisheye, for the 24-105 and for the 70-200. I also have a bunch of flashes. For kiteboarding I’ve been using the big guys, they’re ten kilos and really strong. I have three of those. I bought them in the USA, they had a deal on: if you get 3… I couldn’t resist! The airlines probably hate me for that, but I can make cool shots. I’ve tried to use the small flashes with water housings and attaching them to the lines, but that’s hard on the riders and doesn’t make as nice as a shot. As I film as well, I have a Sony FS700.

How did you get into photography?
Initially because of my dad. Then I got into sports photography because I’ve always been into sports and, even though I’m not very good at any, my friends became very good. It’s definitely a pleasure to be friends with your idols. You know how you see these ‘People Are Awesome’ edits on youtube? I can say my friends are those awesome people.

When did you become a professional photographer?
It’s hard to say. How do you judge who is a professional photographer and who isn’t? It’s hard to make a living out of photography, so I don’t think making a living out of it should be the deciding factor. Anyway, I’ve definitely been trying to get better and better since I started. I joke around that before being a photographer, I’m a geek. So I’m super stoked to spend hours on the computer and with my photo gear analysing what’s possible, trying new gear and testing new settings, etc. One of the reasons I’m in California right now is just so I can rent high end gear and try to see what would be possible. There was a big camera trade show type of thing in Las Vegas not long ago. It’s great to see the new products.

When did you get into shooting kiting and how did it come about?
Shooting kiteboarding came around for me because of Reno Romeu. We met because we had a few friends in common. He was super nice to me and taught me a lot about the sport and the tricks etc. He was also very kind to ride for me when I was trying my ideas; he was basically my guinea pig!

Can you remember the first shot you got published?
It was a shot of Reno Romeu with the flash on the lines on ‘Kiteboarding’, an American magazine. It is a shot I’m still really stoked on because it was done with very simple gear. I used radio triggers that I bought for 10 dollars each in China! It was also the first ‘flash session’ that I did with Reno. I’m forever thankful to him and all his friends who helped by holding the flashes in the lagoon.

Which is your favourite ever shot?
It’s hard to say. I usually say that the next one will be my favourite shot. There is this one of Liam Whaley from the last season in Brazil that I’m very stoked on, as well as the one of Alex Neto that was on the cover of KiteWorld issue #72. There are a few shots from each sport that I really treasure.

Who is your favourite rider to shoot with and why?
I don’t know if I have a favourite rider. I would say that any rider who is stoked to be in a photo session and wants to work to get the shot is an awesome rider to shoot. Photo sessions can be boring for the rider as they usually have to do the same trick a few times – so having them being really into it is great. In the kite world when Liam Whaley is awesome to work with because he’s super focused to get the shot. Alex Pastor usually likes to film more than he likes to shoot stills, but when I talk him into it, it’s super sick to work with him, too! I’ve been shooting with Reno for a really long time so we know each other pretty well, and it usually goes well, too. Believe it or not, last season was the first time I actually worked with Brazilian riders, Alex Neto. He worked really hard and landed some steazy stuff! Sam Medysky rode on some sketchy spots last season just so I could work with a nicer background. He deservers some mad props. And there’s Hannah Whiteley. She always put in a lot of work!

Where is your favourite place to shoot and why?
I shoot mainly shoot kiteboarding in Brazil. All the lagoons are great for shooting. My favourite is Uruau. The light is usually super nice, but since the flash thing began for me, I depend less on good light from the sun. That shot of Neto on the cover was shot at midday – probably not the best time, but it was when the wind was good. In general, shallow lagoons with good wind for 11 metre kites and offshore winds are ideal.

Where is the most terrifying place you’ve ever shot?
I shot at Bob Burnquist’s mega ramp the other day. Being up there is trippy. I don’t know how those guys can do that. There is also this skate bowl on top of a hill in Rio which is always a bit sketchy because it’s full of junkies. Man, I also have mad respect for all the guys who shoot in the water at The Wedge, in California. That wave is gnarly. I’ve tried a few times and you definitely have to be in shape to swim there.

Do you have any advice for aspiring kiting photographers?
Sure! Read the user manual of every piece of gear you have. Talk to the riders and understand their style and figure out which trick looks good from which angle. The way I see it, sports photography is almost like a team sport. The photographer and rider have to work together. Also, try to understand the sport as much as possible. Don’t get stuck on only shooting kiteboarding. Kiteboarding is fun and challenging, but shooting other things and other sports can give you the experience and foundation to be even better at shooting kiteboarding. And finally, always have fun!

Find Andre… 
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