Diego Herculano has been in 11 countries as an independent photojournalist and has collaborated for some of the main vehicles in the world.
Herculano was born in the state of Pernambuco, in northeastern Brazil.
From a young age, he began to register the uniqueness of the streets, trying to get as close as possible to the stories he has already documented and continues to document.
In late 2018 and early 2019, he covered the military conflict between Ukraine and Russia, which culminated in the Independence of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church.
Currently he documents the post-pandemic and social development process in China, where he now lives
What are the rules of your photographic work?
My only rules are ethical. I don’t fake any situation and I don’t manipulate images. The real world is interesting enough for me.
There is also respect for the subject I’m going to photograph.
Whenever I make a story I try to put myself in people’s shoes and interfere as little as possible in their routine
Is there a particular combination of techniques and tools that you think makes the difference?
I try not to think about techniques, it takes my attention away from what really matters: people’s behavior.
Evidently it is important for a photographer to know the techniques, but to use them instinctively at the appropriate time.
As for the equipment, I am happy with a discreet and light camera and a 35mm lens
Tell us about an experience that definitely changed the way you work and made you grow.
There are many moments, but I believe that the period that I lived in the Peruvian Andes was the most emblematic for me, as to finance a project on shamanic rituals I had to sell a lot of equipment and had to finish the project with only an input camera and a 28mm manual lens.
During this period, I enjoyed the experience much more as a person than as a photographer and learned how important it is to understand and observe the moments that pass before our eyes.
At that moment, I understood that, in fact, photography is the materialization of an experience lived by us.
Was there ever a difficult situation? How did you react? Tell us.
I have been through very complicated situations, mainly in the exercise of photojournalism.
I think the only time I really thought I was going to die was during the Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, in 2016.
At the time, I wanted to document Rio de Janeiro’s drug dealers in the favelas, while the Olympic Games were taking place.
I didn’t know the favelas very well, so I rented a small room in one of the favelas considered dangerous and tried to understand that reality.
I remember that one of the dealers thought I was an undercover policeman and even put a gun to my head for me to confess.
At that moment, I looked him in the eye and said, without stuttering, that I was just a photographer.
Very calmly I asked him to calm down as was going to prove him I was telling the truth. So I showed him on the internet some of my work and he finally believed. After that, he apologized and I managed to take the photos.
How do you report to the environment and the subjects you portray?
I am always nice to people and I always try to talk to them.
I believe that for you to document any human situation you need to try to be part of that group and that starts when you are open and receptive to other people.
I also ask you to share a bonus trick among your secret techniques.
Get lost, always.
It is always good to get out of your comfort zone and never forget that it is important to carry a smile. Sometimes a smile can get you out of trouble and open doors for you.
Tell us about your equipment, what kind of cameras do you shoot with?
In general, a discreet and lightweight camera on a 35mm lens, but I am never closed to new technological possibilities.
Are there any books you would recommend?
The Americans, Robert Frank.
What stimulates your creativity, what inspires you?
What inspires me the most to continue photographing is the possibility of learning different things from strangers.
It is knowing that people are willing to share knowledge and feelings with me, even though I am a stranger to them.