Sha Ribeiro

The Milan-based photographer on the New Orleans' Bounce scene and New York's rats

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Milan-based photographer Sha Ribeiro frequently explores various subcultures with a particular focus on the music that stems from them. Through his passion for shooting portraits, often producing striking black and white images of his subjects from a raw and honest viewpoint, Ribeiro aims to make a record of all types of beauty. With no formal training and an initial introduction to photography through graffiti, Ribeiro's approach is extremely instinctive and direct.

Working with the rats required a lot of patients but after a few shoots I began to understand their behaviour. I told my girlfriend this and she got a little worried

Dazed Digital: What do you think the importance of photography is? Why is it your medium of choice?
Sha Ribeiro:
There are multiple answers to this, but I like to think of photography as the uniqueness of a moment. Photography allows you to dream and create your own interpretation of reality - that fascinates me.

DD: Which one of your projects has left the biggest impression so far?
Sha Ribeiro:
The Bounce music scene in New Orleans. It was interesting to see the coexistence and the respect between gay, transgender and straight MCs.

DD: What is it about portraiture that you're so attracted to?
Sha Ribeiro:
I’m attracted to people in general, I like their beauty. I like their imperfection. I'm attracted to capturing a face or a body that will never be the same again. Beautiful things disappear way too fast so I have to create a permanent reminder.

DD: Your project 'Greed' was a unique documentation of rats in New York City. What was it like working with rats as a subject and what did you hope to communicate through the images?
Sha Ribeiro:
'Greed' is a direct and explicit metaphor for hunger of money and power. The more you get the more you want, no matter what. Working with the rats required a lot of patients but after a few shoots I began to understand their behaviour. I told my girlfriend this and she got a little worried. I guess, in the end, it's just another portrait of New York City.

DD: Many photographers are beginning to add films to their repertoire. Have you ever considered documenting projects by filming instead?
Sha Ribeiro:
Photographers tend to make videos in the same way they would take a picture. Images by themselves certainly have a narrative but film is a more elaborate medium. Photographers focus more on the visual aesthetic often neglecting the narrative. It's about balancing the two. I’m much more interested in working as a cinematographer than director - it’s much closer to what I already do.

DD: What are currently you working on?
Sha Ribeiro:
We're planning to bringing the "New Orleans Bounce" exhibition to the US and doing a publication for it. I'm also producing a series of fanzines with the artist Francesco Igory Deiana.

Text by Zeyna Sy

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