Marina Nacamuli Talks About Her Photography, Life, Authenticity, Pressure and More

by Rubén Palma
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Marina Nacamuli, is a photographer and filmmaker who specializes in 35mm and video. Her work spans from fine art, fashion and lifestyle. After several years living in Brooklyn, NY, she is back in São Paulo, where she explores the city. 

Nacamuli photographs people, or rather, her peers. The work itself consists of self-portraits of a joint experience in which Marina could easily take the place of the “model”, and in fact she does, as she is exposing her intimacy, the situations she lives in, and the places she permeates. She is usually attracted to subjects that involve women, streets and sub-cultures, with a sensitive approach to abandonment.

She acts as the ‘flâneur’, the errant, walker and observer, creating a relationship of reciprocity and sharing; only a sensible and keen eye can capture singular moments with such depth. In 2017, she released her first photobook, “Roose”, that can be found at the archive of Instituto.

Hi Marina! Thank you for sitting down with me! First question that I always ask. How does a regular day look like for you in Brooklyn, NY?

Thank you! So, I’m currently in São Paulo, Brazil. I used to live in Brooklyn from 2006-2013… And I go back to visit whenever possible. A typical day in São Paulo would be waking up early, making and enjoying breakfast, walking my dog and start to work. When I’m not on set shooting, I’ll be walking around the streets or working on my next photobook (will be ready next year).

I’m curious. Growing up, what kind of kid were you? What did you enjoy doing, and how did you spend your time?

As a kid I was always a rebel. But I was also a sporty. I didn’t like to study, nor read books. I wasn’t the best student but I was good with manipulating answers and I would get passed with grades. I was good in every sport I tried, and I had a routine with it. I was also crazy about electronics, that’s why I got my first camera when I was around 7. A 120mm film camera. I don’t know what I was shooting, I can’t remember. I was always day dreaming and making up stories in my mind about life and how I wanted it to be.

I was also a collector, I would collect everything. Stickers, letters, boarding passes, photos, drawings, shells, papers, diaries. 

So how did you get introduced to photography? What was the early days like? How did you first start out practicing with your camera? And when did your journey start for real?

Besides this first camera, I was the child who would shoot vacation trips with my family. In the meantime, I would interview my friends. I remember always having a camera. In my teen years, I had the diskette camera and right after it the cybershot. I have many albuns of my friends and I throughout the years. When I was 17 and decided to go to college, I wanted to pursue photography, but there wasn’t a college for it. I started a 1 year course on it, and soon after, I went to film school (a cousin mine said I should try it, since both mediums were similar). That’s how I went to live in NY. Everyone had migrated to digital cameras and film was so cheap, and easy to find. My hobby was to buy film, and store them. I had a polaroid series where I would photograph everyone who came to visit me at home. I guess it has always been a part of my life, but as a passion and curiosity. In 2012 I started dating my ex boyfriend and he worked professionally with photography. I noticed how much I loved it and abandoned film for a little bit. I would shoot everyday. Soon after I came back to Brazil and since no one knew me, I just decided to work as a photographer and little by little, I got work. 

How important is authenticity in your work? And can a picture still be good, if it does’t have any?

I think authenticity is very important. That’s what makes you stand out. But yes, a picture can still be good without any. Authenticity makes someone look at the photo and know who’s it is. So anything with more personality is better, I believe.

Some of your prefered subjects to document are women, street and sub-cultures, with a sensitive approach to abandonment. Can you tell me about that please?

I’m attracted to what’s different, what’s not being usually seen or portrayed. I find more personality and uniqueness in sub-cultures and in the streets when I walk around. Recently, though, I’ve noticed that the common denominator in my work is loneliness, abandonment, faith and love. That’s what I find in people I portray. 

What makes photography your prefered medium of expressing yourself?

I love photography, so much. I think it can express so much with just one frame. I think its magical, the whole aspect of it. Since looking at something you want to eternalize, until having it printed and edited with other images. Its about telling stories, its saved memory. 

With that in mind. What is it about 35mm that resonates so well with you?

I think that especially with the immediacy of today, people are going crazy with digital, clicking so much. 35mm makes you choose, think about each of the 36 possibilities. Besides this, you have to develop and digitize it, which again, the magic happens. 

Sometimes I even forget what exactly I shot in a certain roll of film… So developing the film also brings back the memory. And the colors and grain… Oh the colors and the grain! It’s perfect! There’s nothing like it. 

You’ve worked with big name brands such as:  Ambush, Nike, Hypebeast, Puma, ASICS and Patta, to name a few. Do you ever get nervous or feel the pressure  to deliver?

I always get nervous. Im probably the most anxious person in this world. I hardly sleep the night before a job. The pressure is always there, but I guess that, with time, we learn how to deal with it better. 

Other than the camera and lens. Are there any essential items that you always bring with you when shooting?

35mm. As many as I can. And, my curiosity and desire to meet new people 🙂

Can you tell me about Naca Worldwide, and what your vision is for it?

My idea is to make various things using photography. I’ve made a rug collabing with an artist and using a photo I took. I also made a gold necklace with another one. There are many other apparel I want to make, but the next one will only drop next year.

What motivates you?

Besides my love for what I do, the streets. There’s so much happening that I want to register everything. 

How would you describe a perfect day?

A perfect day would be a day where I’m inspired and productive, not anxious, cooking with loved ones, and if possible, surrounded by beautiful nature.

But just one of the above will make me happy.

Anybody you look up to?

Nan Goldin, Jerry Hsu, William Eggleston, Joshua Gordon, Dexter Navy, Dee Alvarado, Alfonso Gonzalez, my friends, amongst many others.

Alright Marina. I always ask these two questions at the end of an interview. The first is. What’s your favorite movie(s) and why?

“Lost in Translation”, because I feel its the story of my life, in a different way. I watch it again every few months and I wish I had directed it lol

The second is. What song(s) are you currently listening to the most right now?

I’m not the biggest song listener. Especially when I’m working I like to hear the sound of whats going on around me, especially in the streets. But, someone whom I listen to every time I think about a song, would be Sade. At least during the moment I am in now in my life. 

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