Documentary Photographer Toni Pires is the Edge of Humanity Magazine contributor of this photo essay. These images are from his project ‘A Slap In The Face‘. To see Toni’s body of work click on any image.
In my schedule, as a photojournalist there was a simple task: follow the Brazilian Olympic Boxing team which represented Brazil in London.
In São Paulo this was the scene: Santo Amaro, south neighborhood, inside an abandoned club which is now managed by the local city hall administration. At the door, a small sentry-box, inside, half-painted walls and no basic structure. The warm-up race grounds look urban-ecologic: bushes and grass alongside left-overs from gym equipment and building supplies. After warming-up, the athletes strife within smiles and push to get to the slow-flowing drinking fountain.
Three weeks later the article was ready. Art Directors and editors were happy but I was not sure I had told the story I saw behind the eyes. That seemed like an off-Broadway two-act theatrical drama from the 80´s: Directed roles, orchestrated speeches and one of the smallest sponsorship benefits for people who weren´t even born in this city, practicing and living far from their native homes but living all together at the same place in this town … everything fitted. I could feel a different aura distant from the daily routine I could document through my lens.
So, I decided to get closer but less noticed with a smaller camera just to blend in and get into the lives of these fighters. I tried to understand what could possibly take somebody out of the certain to the improbable and unexpected. Then, I could feel the pain out of those punches, not only practiced in the dome but also developed daily through drained-out bodies symbiotically working with uncertainty and inquietude.
One of the boxers, a girl who owned her place to the Olympics, after her training and completely wet said to me, “Turn your hands into fists, then some punches are like musical notes: you got a lot of combinations”.
In this dialogue between sweat, tears and dreams, I put my feelings in order to deconstruct perfectionism and tell a bit of the story that comes from the pain and the pleasures from lives whose struggles out of violence and dignity is to forge a way to being respected, noticed and, who knows, loved.
With that in mind, the process of capturing images in low-light scenes that demands more pixels, fissures and spots which placed me closer to these people who give and go for a Slap in the face every day early in the morning as breakfast.”
By Toni Pires