Marcio Pimenta Suits Up for Wall Street Journal Magazine

Feb 19, 2019
Photographer Spotlight

Marcio Pimenta traveled from Curitiba, Brazil up the coast to Rio De Janeiro to photograph bodysurfers for Jamie Brisick’s article "The Rush of Bodysurfing in Rio: A Traveler’s Guide," featured in Wall Street Journal Magazine. In Rio, bodysurfing is nothing less than a cultural experience that can be summed up like this: everything begins and ends at the beach. After a hearty night out full of drinking and dancing, bodysurfers wake up at the crack of dawn to head to the ocean and wash away their hangovers. All you need is a bodysuit and a pair of fins. Kick your hardest and you’ll be well on your way to bodysurfing bliss.

What is the secret to perfect waves? Rio's seaside mountains Sugarloaf, Corcovado, and Two Brothers. All are iconic landmarks of Rio, and all are responsible for creating the ideal flow of ocean that locals lust after. The sport has transformed itself into a melting pot, melding together its own characteristic community in coastal Rio De Janeiro. Groups from various backgrounds, age groups, and locations plan gatherings via WhatsApp, where they also exchange inspirational encouragement, prospects of weather conditions, and footage of the day’s most killer surf.

marcio pimenta, wall street journal magazine, wsj magazine

Marcio was traveling in Northeast Brazil when WSJ Magazine asked if he would pack up for Rio and photograph his first WSJ Magazine story. It was Christmas Eve, so finding flights was challenging, but Marcio was able to make it work.

Jamie Brisick’s article was already written before Marcio arrived in Rio. While he had the opportunity to read up on the subject and become well-acquainted with his assignment, Marcio would not discover the true essence of Rio’s bodysurfing culture until his arrival. 

“I understood that I had in my hands a great script and the freedom to show my gaze on that theme.”

marcio pimenta, wall street journal magazine, wsj magazine

Marcio called the bodysurfers to find a good time for the shoot. The window of time was limited, with just two days to get the job done. Thankfully the body surfers were gracious in making their time available to Marcio so that he could shoot the photographs while they surfed.

Were there any particular challenges that you encountered in your planning or execution?

“It was not so easy, because in those days the sea did not have good waves for surfing. So we had to improvise, and I asked the bodysurfers to do their best. It was important to understand that bodysurfing requires very little equipment. It is more natural than other forms of surfing.”

marcio pimenta, wall street journal magazine, wsj magazine

What has been the reception of these photographs in the community of Rio De Janeiro and elsewhere?

“This story went beyond the waves. Surfers and readers reacted very well to the photographs, sharing and commenting on the sport, but also on the city. In fact, there are fewer photos from the shoot of actual surfing. It ended up showing a lot more culture.”

marcio pimenta, wall street journal magazine, wsj magazine


Client: WSJ Magazine
Photo Editor: Allison Gumbel

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