Marco Casino

Staff Riding


Katlehong is one of the largest townships in South Africa and has played a key role in the history of the struggle against apartheid. This urban area has been for many years a dormitory-town for workers employed in the Johannesburg’s factories. Poverty is widespread, and there are still vast areas where houses are shacks. The unemployment rate is above 50%. Staff riding, the local slang for train surfing, is a widespread phenomenon in SA. The almost total majority of surfers are kids under 25. Amputations and death are really common.



Train is historically the conveyance which accompanied workers from the township to Joburg. The Prasa Metrorail, the local train company, is one of the foundations of SA society. This connection between train and citizens remained very strong over time. Associated with economic stagnation, degradation and the logic of life on the road, led to the birth of train surfing as a social phenomenon. The spectacular and risky act of train surfing becomes the framework to tell the Katlehong’s young people social fabric. This place has been the epicenter of the antiapartheid’s guerrillas, and on the eve of the twentieth anniversary of the facts that we all know, the situation of segregation has remained more or less unchanged in daily life. In a context where violence, rampant poverty, abuse of alchool/drugs and infant birth/AIDS are the masters, the train surfing is configured as the search for a social redemption that will never come for the characters of this story. This work is part of a long-term project about the post-apartheid SA’s new generation and is designed to be a web platform halfway between the web-doc and a social network. Through the use of interactive maps, navigation will be driven between the Joburg metro stations, where each one of them will become the narrative device to tell a different aspect of the social life of the photographed subjects. The site will be online for the half of 2015 also thanks to the support of Lucie Foundation and Leica Camera.




Marco Casino is a multimedia photographer specialized in social reportage. In March 2012, with “The Death Of Italian Horseracing”, won the Leica Talent 24×36 contest, thanks to which start to collaborates with Vanity Fair Italy.
In April ’12 was honored by Y’art Project Association as winner of the full scholarship, sponsored by Hasselblad, for the Photo Workshop in St. Petersburg. Also in 2012, was nominated as first ambassador for Leica Camera in Italy. In the same year he founded the commercial agency Made In Milan. In 2014 was nominated as candidate for the annual Joop Swart Masterclass from World Press Photo. In recent years he is carrying out his vision of multimedia photography, trying to involve the biggest audience possible, developing new way to tell compelling story through the internet.
Since 2014 Marco is a member of LUZphoto Agency. He is 28 and currently based between Milan and Turin, Italy.


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6 thoughts on “Marco Casino – Staff Riding”

  1. Well, I can’t take it. A finalist, a remarkable set of photographs of people few of us have ever seen in a place unknown to most of us seeking thrills from the midst of desperation, days pass and no one makes a singe comment. So, despite what I said and meant about maybe not commenting so much because it feels funny to be the only or only two, I’m going say:

    Congratulations, Marco! This is truly an exceptional set of photographs showing us something most of us never knew. The only thing is maybe these guys sometimes – often – smile and laugh and in their smiles and laughter express even more defiance and resilience than when they just look grim in every single shot. Yeah, the grim is real and essential to your essay but just from having been around humans in all sorts of situations all my life, I know the smiles and laughs are there, too.

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  3. Thanks for the link, Peter. Pretty impressive.

    When I was a 12 year-old boy living in Missoula, Montana, we used to hope freight trains and ride them around. We thought we really doing something, being bold and adventurous, wild and reckless, but it was nothing like this and we had no choirs singing on the freights, either.

  4. We used to lay beside the high speed main line when the express trains went past at about 100mph.
    I guess we were 10 or 11 at the time…Just figured all city kids had fun with trains in one way or another.

  5. marcin luczkowski

    I wrote a comment here a few days age but it disappeared (another one).
    There is something natural and free in this photos. Something so obvious.
    The video is great.

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