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The daily life of Latin America's largest favela is documented by Rocinha sob Lentes, a photography collective formed by 4 community residents

Text by Everyday Brasil

Photos by Rocinha sob Lentes

Marcus Costa, Diego Cardoso, Erik Dias and Allan Almeida are part of the collective that was born in April 2018 with the aim of documenting the daily life of Rocinha through photography. By day-to-day, we mean, in this case, everyday life far from the clichés of violence and war to which the community is generally related. In their Instagram, the images show children playing in the street, workers, residents in their moments of leisure, crowded traffic, specific events, among other ordinary scenes of the routine of any city, neighborhood or community.

The four members of the collective are long-time friends and grew up together. Among them, only Diego lives exclusively from photography, registering weddings, children's parties, among other events that happen in the community. Erik works in a Pet Shop, Allan is a watchman in a bank and Marcus works as a waiter at Copacabana Palace, the famous hotel in Rio de Janeiro.

When they created the Instagram page, they already had a collection of about 1000 photos, some of which are next to the material they are currently producing. Diego tells that, curiously, the great majority of the project's followers in the social networks are not residents of the community. "Only 20% of those who follow the project in Instagram live in Rocinha, I don't know if for lack of Internet access or for not considering the project relevant. But we intend to change that," he laments.

Allan says he came close to photography at a difficult time when he was having financial and emotional problems. It was then that he started to attend a church within the community, where he suggested photographing the meetings and events that were held there, starting with his cell phone and then with a semi-professional camera borrowed by Diego. Soon after, he managed to buy his first professional camera and started to be invited to photograph other events held in Rocinha. "From then on, I started to see that I had a talent for photography, something that could be worked on", recalls Allan. He also tells that, today, the greatest dream of the collective is, at some point, to make an exhibition with the material produced by them, in order to accomplish a social project through which they can teach children to photograph.

In Marcus' opinion, photographing Rocinha is a privilege and a way of giving back, doing something he loves for the place where he has always lived. "Rocinha is a magical place! Literally, a world. A sort of compact city, where everything happens, but only those who are there see."

Rocinha is complex. Located between the South Zone and the West Zone of Rio de Janeiro, it is surrounded by noble neighborhoods of the city, being a pulsating portrait of social inequality in the country. The rich cultural diversity, the people, the privileged view of the city, the peculiar architecture, among other properties, make the community a place as unique as plural. In the opinion of the Photo Collective, however, all this is left aside by the media, which, most of the time, choose to show only the bad things of the place, thus feeding a prejudice in those who see it from outside. "Most of the time they come to us is to ask for pictures of hotwire power supply, also known as "gatos", alleys with humble houses, among other clichés", comments Diego. 

For Erik, photography was essential for him to see life in a more positive way, with 'more feeling', as he says. "I learned that every photograph has a message, every locality in the favela has its importance and, above all, I learned that every person photographed has a story to tell". Erik wishes that, soon, he can support his family by dedicating himself only to photography, something that, for him, 'has huge power in the world'.

To find out more about the work of the photo collective Rocinha sob Lentes:


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