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Pig_Sam

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Today Sunday, Palmeiras might secure the Brazilian championship title. Nothing like Palmeiras’ official photographer Cesar Grecos’ 2015 Brazil Cup picture book to get you into the right spirit!

With more than 400 pictures spread over some 200 pages, this piece of art gives you the expected and unexpected, the official and the unofficial, the glamourous and not so glamourous moments of Palmeiras’ 2015 Brazil Cup campaign, leading up to the club’s third Cup title. Cesar Greco keeps it simple, with clean framing of the subjects, leading us into and through the day-to-day of the squad and everything surrounding it: training, travel, gearing up, play, post-game, medical, training, travel… Like in the best moments of TV Palmeiras, we come a bit closer to the actual human beings behind the celebrity mask: their anxieties, beliefs, superstitions.
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Photographer Cesar Greco with Zé Roberto at book launch

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Currently sold out at Amazon, the book is available on Netshoes.com.br for approximately US$25, but they only offer domestic shipping. If you live outside of Brazil, let me know and we’ll try to work something out.

Scoppia che la vittoria è nostra!
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Our supporters have been using the pig since 1986, convinced that Palmeiras’ then director of marketing João Roberto Gobatto had indeed come up with a solution to neutralize frequent smears from rival supporters (read full story here).

The hatcher of the plan has finally received his recognition: before last Sunday’s game against Internacional, Palmeiras officially presented The Pig as the club’s second mascot, baptising it “Gobatto”. Success is a given.
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Scoppia che la vittoria è nostra!

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In part I of the interview with Cesar Greco, Palmeiras’ official photographer, we learnt about his early steps as a professional and how a typical week at Palmeiras might look like. In this second and last part, he tells us a bit more about the challenges and peculiarities of his profession, what gear he uses, and brings out some extra memorable moments from his days at Palmeiras.
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VitÛria da Conquista x Palmeiras

Prass and Jackson looking to clear the airspace against Vitória da Conquista during Palmeiras’ first game in the 2015 Brazil Cup campaign, Lomanto Juniro stadium, March 2015

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Anything Palmeiras: Cesar, what would you say are the main challenges when shooting a game of football?

Cesar Greco: Each game is unique, and the challenges and variables are as unique as the game itself.  The structure of the stadium, lighting (day and night), climatic conditions, the organizers’ regulations, positioning in the field (always a battle to get best possible conditions to execute your work), speed of mobile Internet service… These and many other technical and physical aspect will influence the result. The photojournalist must be very flexible and prepared to find solutions to successfully cover a football game. And every game is a learning experience.

AP: During games, do you interact with supporters at all?

CG: I don’t. I focus on my tasks, seeking not to interfere in the action in any way.

Now, the opposite is not necessarily the case. I frequently get cussed at, even been spat at. Also by our own supporters [laughs]. It’s no secret our supporters aren’t particularly fond of the press. And supporters often don’t know I’m not only a palmeirense, but actually working for the club. I end up getting my share. One day, I’ll be famous and they’ll stop cursing at me [laughs].
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Brincadeira especial

Prass toys around with a little girl, bearer of Down’s syndrome and dressed as a fairy, after a training session at the Football Academy, October 2015

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AP: Are there additional challenges being a supporter and a professional at the same time?

CG: Believe you me! It’s not easy separating passion from profession. Still, I manage to do it, every time, even when we win titles. I’m there, on the pitch, up close with the action, the emotions, and I feel it all, but sort of put it on hold, concentrating on my duty to make this moment eternal through my pictures.

I end up celebrating long after everybody else. This last title of ours [2015 Brazil Cup, editor’s note] I kept shooting until two o’clock in the morning. I got home around 3 am, and from the balcony of my house, I worked on all the photos from the final game until eight in the morning. I celebrated alone, having a beer and gradually understanding that yes, we had won the championship.
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The 2015 Brazil Cup triumph, December 2015

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AP: What post-production techniques do you normally apply?

CG: Post-production in photojournalism is and should be a simple process: it’s not correct to substantially alter your pictures. I do minor adjustments to brightness, contrast, cropping and that’s it.

AP: What equipment do you use?

CG: I use Canon. I seek excellence in everything I do, and all my equipment is top-rated. Also because shooting sports events at this level requires the best equipment.

I use two camera bodies: a 1D X and a 1D Mark III. Two long lenses: a 400mm and a 300mm, both 2.8L, in addition to a 70-200mm and a16-35mm lens, these also 2.8L. A 580 EX flash with battery pack and a variety of other accessories. It is a very versatile kit. The cameras are fast and robust.

For post-production, I use a MacBook Pro with the best possible configuration, and Adobe’s “Lightroom” software for image editing.
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Striker Leandro Pereira, now at Dutch Club Brugge, tests the forehead of Audax’s Camacho in the first round of the São Paulo championship, January 2015

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AP: Any particularly episodes from your years at Palmeiras that spring to mind?

CG: There have been various, both funny and curious. Others more exciting and emotional, especially when I’ve seen up close Palmeiras winning a championship, like the Brazil Cups of 2012 and 2015.

I’d also highlight the farewell for [former Palmeiras goalkeeper] Marcos, especially due to all the affection he received from fans. I was thrilled when I saw one of my pictures of Marcos on the big screen at the Pacaembu – one of those pictures with his hands raised to the sky after having defended a penalty – after the whistle of the final game of his career.

It is a unique opportunity to follow and take part in the history of a club like Palmeiras, so full of sensational stories during more of a century. The photo books I’ve edited – the 2012 Brazil Cup, the book on São Marcos and now the soon-to-be-out 2015 Brazil Cup – help to keep history alive, as long as paper stands the test of time. This is priceless.

AP: Before we finish, give me two dreams you would like to fulfil as a professional; one linked to you current work at SEP, and a second one in a different context.

CG: As I couldn’t be there in 1951, I’d want to shoot Palmeiras becoming Libertadores Cup champion before going on to win the World Club championship. This will crown my parallel work of consolidating the photography department within Palmeiras, implementing some ideas I have.

The second dream is to win the World Press Photo award, the most prestigious award in photojournalism.

AP: Cesar, may your dreams be fulfilled! Thank you for allowing this interview to take place, congratulations, and keep up the magnificent work!

CG: I’m the one thanking you. It’s been a pleasure and I feel proud to feature in one of Anything Palmeiras’ articles!
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GOD BLESS PALMEIRAS, August 2015

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Yesterday, we were closer acquainted with a group of blind people and how they “see” Palmeiras. Today, you will get a glance at the man who further enhances our vision and etches Palmeiras into the realm of timelessness: Cesar Greco, the club’s official photographer. I hope you enjoy this first part of the interview, as well as, of course, his images – specially selected by Cesar himself from his 2015 batch.

— ooo —

Anything Palmeiras: Tell me a little bit about yourself, Cesar.

Cesar Greco: I come from a family of palmeirenses, an Italian family. My great-grandfather left Italy and the war that was ravaging his home country. He arrived in Brazil, became a Palestra supporter, and his club preference were passed on from generation to generation: my grandfather, my father, cousins, uncles and the whole family.

I believe I am, both privately and professionally, a team player, an observer and someone who is always willing to learn. Someone who invests in opportunities body and soul.

I am rather emotional and dreamy, but without abandoning reason and professionalism. That is how I see life and live life, especially in relation to Palmeiras.
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Divino respeito

Legendary Palmeiras midfielder Ademir da Guia during event at the club’s training grounds, October 2015

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AP: I was going to ask if you are a palmeirense, but…

CG: Haha, well yes, very, very palmeirense. Palmeiras is an intimate part of my life. I was born and raised in a palestrino setting. It was something natural, a heritage, something in your skin, in your veins, a love that not even I understand where it comes from but is there, in my heart. I am very proud to be palmeirense.

AP: Since when do you take pictures?

CG: I started in 1999, as an amateur and for fun. In fact, I say I started that year because it was when I bought my first reflex camera, but already as a child, I experimented with compact cameras, trying to obtain impossible images. It was an interest that came naturally. So natural, in fact, that I learned to photograph by myself.
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Saudação alviverde

The parakeet, Palmeiras’ mascot, greets the stands at the Allianz Parque, blessed by a magnificant rainbow in January 2015

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AP: How did your career develop?

CG: I graduated in journalism in 2003. Ever since my college days, I wanted to write and do photography jointly. In my early career, I worked for small weekly newspapers and Internet portals, writing and shooting, gathering plenty of experience.

I started doing local and regional football games, third and fourth division, then slowly approached the main competitions. In 2007, I started working for an agency, which gave me the opportunity to cover major events – both top division football and other sporting events. I had certain freedom to choose which events to cover and never hid the fact that I am a Palmeiras supporter. When in 2009 Palmeiras went out in search of an official photographer, their crosshairs rapidly locked on me. I use to say that because I am a palmeirense, and exclusively for being one of those passionate about this club, I work for Palmeiras.
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Palmeiras x AvaÌ

Argentine forward Cristaldo commemorating a brace against Avaí FC, July 2015

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AP: You work exclusively for Palmeiras, or do you also take up other work?

CG: I work exclusively for Palmeiras, from Sunday to Sunday. My work agenda is that of the team’s. All my time is dedicated for Palmeiras. Occasionally I can take on smaller assignments on the side, but only if Palmeiras’ agenda allows for it. Normally, I pass assignments on to other professionals.

However, when time permits, I try to develop my own stuff, keeping it ready for some time in the future.

AP: Cesar, describe a “normal” week for you at Palmeiras

CG: Well, if we take a week with two games, one at home and one away, it will be something like this:

I shoot the first training session of the week, Monday, for example. I will focus on players that might have given a press conference, the coach, looking for pictures to illustrate articles that will feature on the Palmeiras website. I also constantly look for nice photo ops for Palmeiras’ social media – instagram, facebook and twitter – or that could go into the club´s magazine, or even be used by the club in commercial settings.
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Quebra dedos

Palmeiras forward Dudu accidentally knocks over Cruzeiro’s coach Vanderlei Luxenburgo, who breaks a finger in the fall, August 2015

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The following day might be very busy, if we have an away game on the Wednesday. I shoot the training session, then scramble to edit the pictures and send them to the webmaster. I get on the plane with the team, always with a camera ready “from the hip” to capture anything that might interest. As we arrive at our destination, I capture the disembarking of the delegation, the interaction with local supporters, edit and send it to the webmaster.

On game day, I spend a day’s worth of energy in only a few hours, it’s very intense. I head for the stadium some four hours in advance, together with the crew that prepares the players’ uniforms and stuff. I organise my gear, get my credentials and wait for the arrival of the team. A do some images of the activities in the dressing room, edit, send it, then head for the pitch. A capture images of the game, edit and send a first batch during halftime. Same procedure after the final whistle, editing, sending, and also preparing pictures for the club’s instagram, while collecting my stuff and making sure I’m not left behind. I continue working in the bus heading for the hotel, or the airport.

That’s the routine, more or less the same also at home games. When Palmeiras train or play, I am there. In addition to when there are special needs surging from Palmeiras or somewhere else. A lot of work, I promise you!

— ooo —

End of part I, stay tuned for part II.
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Cesar Greco, in case you wondered

 

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001_pigcollection_logoGermanic immigrants first arrived in Brazil starting at the beginning of the 1800’s. From 1824 to 1969, a modest estimation is that some 250.000 Germans arrived in Brazil – the fourth largest immigrant community to settle in the country, after the Portuguese, Italians and Spaniards. A majority of them arrived between the I and the II World War.

Early German immigrants settled mostly in rural areas of Brazil, making their living as farmers. Those arriving in the 20th century mostly settled in big towns, being middle-class labourers from urban areas of Germany. During the 1920s and 1930s, Brazil also attracted a significant number of German Jews, who settled mostly in São Paulo.

Many aspects of Brazil’s culture has been influenced by Germans, especially so in the southern states of Santa Catarina and Rio Grande do Sul: the Brazilian Oktoberfest in Blumenau is second only to Munich in size. Roughly 5-10 million Brazilians are believed to have German ancestry and the Germanic influence in Brazil is undeniable, as two of Brazil’s most famous personalities can attest to: architect Oscar Niemeyer and über-model Gisele Bündchen.

With all this “germanification” going on in Brazil for centuries, how come Palmeiras have never played in Germany? Good question! The Verdão have played German teams 8 times (4 victories, 3 draws and 1 defeat) and the list includes heavy-hitters like Werder Bremen and Borussia Dortmund. However, not one clash has taken place on German soil.

Regardless, to all our German readers, near and far: danke schön!
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artwork by Custódio Rosa

research by Cláudio of IPE

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001_pigcollection_logoLet’s leave the old continent for a moment, returning to the Americas. More precisely, to Mexico – coincidentally, the last country Palmeiras played abroad, in 2013, before the recent mini-tournament in Uruguay.

Palmeiras are a frequent visitor to Mexico: on average, a game every four years. The first out of the 24 took place in 1952, against Necaxa, a 3-1 victory for the Verdão. In total, there have been 15 victories, 5 draws and 4 defeats on Mexican soil.

Against Mexican teams, Palmeiras have done rather well historically: out of 28 games home and abroad, Palmeiras have come out victorious 16 times, drawn 5 times and lost 7 times.

This year’s edition of the Libertadores Cup includes Mexican teams Universidad Nacional (commonly referred to as “Pumas de la UNAM” or just “Pumas”) from Mexico City, and Deportivo Toluca, from the city of Toluca.

Too all our Mexican readers out there: continue bringing the spice! Abraços!
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artwork by Custódio Rosa
research by Cláudio of IPE

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