Joao Castellano – Sou Farofa

João Castellano

Sou Farofa

One of the biggest issues in Brazil is the heavy social inequality and all the prejudice that comes along with it, a bad heritage we have incorporated from the colonization period. Middle and upper class Brazilians frequently use a depreciative term to refer to the lower income beachgoers: “farofeiros”. This term comes from the word “farofa”, a typical food made of toasted manioc flour and other ingredients that may include bacon, onion, parsley, eggs, bananas or vegetables. It may be considered trivial for some, but as tasty and well-known as any other Brazilian gourmet dish for others. In order to have fun without spending much, people usually bring to the beach food from home: “farofa” and fried chicken. Most of the time, these “farofeiros” are not hanging out in the same areas of the beach as the rich people. Brazilians have a way of defining people based on their status and clothing, so if you don’t belong to the high end of the social pyramid, you are smaller and treated with prejudice. The main idea of this project is to take us, viewers, to a place we don’t wan’t to go, to show us a reality we don’t want to see, and then make us start questioning our own prejudice.




Joao Castellano was born as Joao Paulo in the early 80s. Joao didn’t come from a family of artists. He never aimed being a professional photographer, his childhood dream was to become a professional soccer player. After giving up that goal, he decided to be a soccer photographer. But he realized that in order to become a soccer photographer, he would need to become a photographer first. Since 2010 Joao has been working as a staff photographer at Istoe, one of the largest news magazines in Brazil. Nowadays, Joao splits his time between personal projects and assignments for the magazine. Joao has collaborated with some international publications such as Reuter and El Pais.

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Joao Castellano

23 Responses to “Joao Castellano – Sou Farofa”

  • Some really nice moments here. I love the colour and the general feeling. I’m not sure that the pictures make me question my prejudice but perhaps it make more sense if you are from Brazil.

  • I really like the focus on people eating and hanging out at the beach. I feel the same…not sure if I sense any connection with questioning prejudice…for me, I just see people eating food and chilling. There are some great moments here, and yes the color works, although in an over-the-top way. I guess I have seen just as many rich people (assuming that all of these people in the photos are poor?) eating on the beach in much the same way. I did check out João’s site…his series on runners is great! Maybe a little pet peeve for me would be the hairs and dirt spots (on the lens) in the lead photo…ahh! Also, one other thing…lots of rich Brazilians eat farofa too!

  • Ótimo, João!

    While I take hharry’s point, certainly in a Brazilian context these pictures are clearly about class, and are effective. Though I would say that, even for someone that never has been to Brazil, there is irony in the cultural contrast of the images in this essay and the typical Brazilian beach pictures of beautiful women in thong bikinis, whether they are blondes or “mulatas”.

  • Hi Hharry, first of all than you very much for you words.If you are a Brazilian in deed make much more sense. What are your feelings when you see these pictures? At what place these pictures take you in?
    kind Regards,

  • Hi Mitch, you are right. We Brazilians sale a stereotype image to the world about Brazil beach.
    Its a lot of things going on behind the scenes.

  • THE best set of brazilian beach pictures I have seen from anyone. Period!


    agree….must be a book…just terrific work..


    when you showed up for class with this work, you blew me away…and you kept going day after day….if you have 40-50 of these and some short but insightful text we have a book …so much fun hanging with you Joao….wishing we meet again….

    cheers, david

  • WOW! We agree on something :)
    shades of Parr, shades of Harvey, shades of Billingham.
    what draws me to them is that they appear not to be allegorical in nature. They have a rawness and apparent honesty in them. I feel these people as people.
    Great job João


    oh John c’mon..i don’t think in reality and person to person we disagree on very much…in writing we tend to rub but i think it is mostly just that…written discourse….

    incredible honesty with this Brazil work plus strong visual style makes it just sing…

    by the way, i’ll be in London for Magnum gig end of are my guest at the party as usual…hope to see you amigo…

    cheers et al, david

  • Love it! Coming from a beach culture I really relate to this… except at Bondi you would never get the saggy bits! Oh and there are waves…lol..Agreed…there’s a lot of Parr and Harvey in there for sure… well done Joåo

  • I was looking at your website a bit more, João, and the shot that really got me is the one with the lady in the colored dress under the shower outside. It made me think of the showers and people at the “rich” beaches…but the funny thing is that they have the same type of shower at those beaches also. I was curious, how did you feel when you were shooting these? In other words, was the class narrative that you mention something that really stood out for you, or did you sense that you just connected with people and felt like you were part of the “scene” or “party”? What I really like about all of these shots is the intimacy with the people, how close you are getting. Very focused work!

  • For someone who goes very, very regularly to beaches the photographer’s approach was a big surprise. The closeness and the totally relaxed attitude of the subjects is amazing. They are appear to be totally oblivious of his presence with a camera.The invisible man.
    I don’t agree at all with the Harvey comparisons but I do see a more Parr and Gilden in your face kind of way than Harvey. I keep feeling a very slightly cheeky, bordering on mocking attitude in the images which is fine but it ain’t a DAH style. David always manages to elevate his subjects into a iconic beautiful dream like status. Anyway very interesting approach and images.

  • PAUL.
    if you take a step back from meaning and allow composition and shape to dominate, there is a an element of the visual poetic, and one frame tryptich that Harvey/Webb do so well in colour. whether it is conscious/unconscious decision on the artist is not important to the viewer. What I like about these is that the surface feels honest; the art is behind and must be looked for.

  • What Gladdy is describing is what I was taught as “Decisive Moment” photography, which was pioneered, and I think named, by Henri Cartier-Bresson. Nowadays I more often hear of it referred to as the “Magnum Style.” And yes, many of David Alan Harvey and Alex Webb’s iconic photos are exemplary of the genre.

    I don’t know if it’s right to refer to it as a style, or a genre, or a skill, though it is unquestionably all three. More interesting for me, is whether that type of composition is objectively “good.”

    One of my little pastimes is to overlay the various Golden Ratio templates over these type of images. In nearly every case, the composition is in line with those “rules” of composition, especially the Golden Spiral.

    Harvey’s photo of the kid with the musical instrument on the beach with an old car in Cuba is a perfect example. As is the lead photo in this essay, the one with the sleeping guy in the car, the kid and the couple kissing. That, even more than the similar location, content and color, is (I’d hazard) why this reminds you of Harvey and Webb. And a lot of why you think its so good as well. When a photographer can put together meaningful content with classic rules of composition, or the Decisive Moment if you prefer, a great photo is possible.

    Personally, I wrestle with the question of how objectively “good” this type of thing is and to what extent I should practice it. Decisive Moment photography is a skill that can be studied and learned and I’ve practiced it with some small successes, but I feel a bit phony when I consciously try it. I don’t know if the facility with which people like Harvey and Webb take these kind of photos is due more to some kind of innate ability or lots of studied practice (I suspect a little of the former and a lot of the latter), but there’s no denying they are high level practitioners of the art. Is it the “best” way to make a composition, or merely a style particular to this era? Should all aspiring photographers attempt to master it as their primary style, as another tool in the toolbox, not worry about it at all and let whatever natural style they might have develop, or actively avoid it because it’s too much like other people’s work?

    Anyway, to the point at hand, I like this work, too, for a variety of good reasons, composition included.

  • Hi everyone! First of all I am sorry for the delay on my reply. The website wasn’t allowing me to access the comments page.
    I will reply in chronological order.:)

    Hi John Gllady. Thank you very much for you words. I feel very honored. I always try to connect with people and bring the truth in what I was feeling at that moment. I try to be accepted as much as I can and I do feel I am one of them. I used a 24mm lens in the images, so that requires me being very close.

    Hi David! Indeed it was very fun to hang out with you! I do miss that a lot. Regarding the pictures I do have 40-50 images like these. I would love to do a book! Let’s do it with Burn? It will be a great excuse for us to hang out again! :)

    Hi Lisa. Thank you very much! We do have some waves in some of the beaches… lol. Thank you again!

    Hi Scott! Thank you very much for your comment. As I said here, I do feel I am one of them. That’s why I don’t do the “rich people”, because I feel much more connected with the “farofeiros” and I believe this approach is more honest with myself and with them. It is the reason why I have chosen this subject! Thank you!

    Hi Paul. As I have said before, I try to be there one 100%. I do considerate myself as a ‘farofeiro’. The name “Sou Farofa” comes from that. The word “sou” in Portuguese means “I am”. I think it’s where the relaxing attitude of the people comes from. They really feel I am one of them. Many, many times I have eaten and drank with them and spent a while hanging out with them. About the mocking attitude in the images I can’t help it since I am a very goofy person! lol. Thank you very much for your compliments about my work! Thank you!

    Hi Mw. I believe a photographer is a mix of a lot of references of other photographers. I keep hearing that this work has an influence of Martin Parr and Alex Webb. I believe as a photographer I am a construction of these influences. It’s inside me somehow. Even though I try to develop my own visual language, I believe they will be always there, along with many others, because I grew up looking at other photographers’ pictures. Maybe 20 years from now I will be able to develop my own language. Thank you very much!

  • I have nothing to add to what has been said – but I am glad to see some life come back to comments. It was getting pretty lonely, so often just harry and me.

    Congratulations, Joao. I hope to see your book.

    I suppose I could say this did not cause me to question my prejudices, except maybe for my concept of open space but it did make me very uncomfortable to see so many people crowded together on such thin strips of sand. That would be very hard to bear.

    Many of David’s – and other people’s beach pictures – make me feel that, too.

  • John Gladdy…
    I sort of see what you mean. But in my opinion if you strip DAH’s and Webb’s images to the bare essentials they are still visually very different. I agree on the honesty part and I can see straight away João is having a great time in these images and even if he didn’t have a camera with him or wasn’t working an essay on these beach scenes he’d still probably be there. He basically likes that place and people and I suppose that’s why it’s so damn good.

  • BILL.
    “it did make me very uncomfortable to see so many people crowded together on such thin strips of sand. That would be very hard to bear.”
    I would suggest that to these people the exact opposite would be true.


    You must mean they are more lively because I am back! lol lol…

    ‘Eh! Watchout! LOL

  • Yes, of course John. People generally find their comfort zones in what they know – but certainly not always. My comment is intended as my perspective, not their’s.

  • Lisa, it’s always more lively with you around. :)

  • @ JOAO: Congratulations for the funny serie. The first one is my fetiche. Althought I’m a “melancholic” photographer, your serie make me smile a lot :D in the same way that Martin Parr does. Great work.

    Question to everybody: Do you think that summer pictures are better seen in winter periods and vice-versa?

    This serie is (maybe) working well in February in Northern Hemisphere i.e. What about seeing the same in August with 35 C (that’s a lot of Farenheit degrees :P) ?

    Shine. Patricio.

  • Hi Patricio! First of all thank you very much! Very good question by the way make a lot of sense.
    But, I don’t know if will make a big difference, wee are at the summer right now and a lot of people are enjoying the photos. But it does make a lot of sense… lol

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