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Reinaldo Coddou: The world of football through the eyes of an artist

FALKE footprints

The world of football through the eyes of an artist

If there were any way to describe Reinaldo Coddou, then you could say he is a true football fan. He isn’t a fan of just any team though, but of Arminia Bielefeld. Only then can you begin to understand this exceptional photographer’s thought process. For those of us who think of football as one sport of many, who watch the final games of the European Cup or the Champions League with interest or a little more than average excitement, Reinaldo’s photography is like looking at pictures of a lost world. It fascinates, touches us, makes time stand still.

Reinaldo Coddou H.

Reinaldo Coddou: “I began taking pictures when I was about 14, 15 years old, in Bielefeld,” explains Reinaldo. “I was looking for different textures, graphic motifs, waiting all day on the sun, watching the light and the shadows."

Reinaldo’s thesis brought together photography and football. This is when he knew what he was really passionate about. “Capturing a particular moment – not just a glimpse into the game, its result – but capturing the champions and the defeated, that’s the challenge. That’s what I like to do.”

Coming from Bielefeld, I know what it means when a team goes down in ranking.

Considering the mythical power and magic of his work, his portrayal of waiting for light – or the right moment – seems nearly obscene in its sober banality, whether he photographs a player during a game, a referee, eager fans cheering or waiting or just shots of an empty stadium. “Coming from Bielefeld, I know what it means when a team goes down in ranking. That is what motivates me.

Reinaldo doesn’t analyse his photography or spend a lot of time interpreting it. It’s seldom that he says much more than “that was fun”, “I really like this picture” or “the people liked this one, they thanked me for it.”

His shots play with the greatest of our emotions – from pain and suffering to hate and love. He displays the modern day’s gladiators – and us, the crowd, entering the stadium to connect with ourselves, to become one with the experience.

He doesn’t care about the results – who wins and who loses – he just wants to show the faces of the losers and the winners, no matter which jersey they wear. It is precisely this that takes them out of context and transforms them into mythic figures.

“I certainly have no control of how the players move on the field. But there are moments when I wander around the audience, waiting for everyone to look away from my camera. I can wait as long as I need for the image to be just as I want it.“

Reinaldo Coddou in an interview

Reinaldo is interested in context switch, when the known and expected are counteracted. Places of frenzy, of ecstasy are suddenly abandoned, revealing only time, wind, weather or simply the feeling of abandonment, forensic details captured by his camera. He captures the moments of victory and defeat, of worry and of hope. “Sometimes the game is so boring that you can see it on the faces of the crowd.”

Sometimes the game is so boring that you can see it on the faces of the crowd.

© Image: Reinaldo Coddau H.

Reinaldo Couddou’s stadiums are shrines, preserving time and sorting moments into the fabric of time.

“I like photographing local football clubs, even some in the League. They’re not as commercialised as the Champions League. You still have the smokey bratwurst stand and they serve local beer as opposed to the standard Dutch brew. Things aren’t as strictly regulated, so you can move around the stadium a lot more.”

He needs this freedom so he is left in peace. So he can sit down with his camera wherever he wants to ensure he can wait for the right light or shadow before capturing the shot he needs. It can take hours, a whole day even – or he just has to come back until he gets the shot he wants.

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© Image: Reinaldo Coddau H.

This doesn’t just apply to football, but also to his photography in various pubs around Germany or in the “Botequins do Rio.” These culinary institutions scattered throughout Rio de Janeiro are originally of Portuguese origin – small restaurants serving as a meeting place for the neighbourhood where visitors fill themselves with Brazilian specialties. He has a book project dedicated to them.

Reinaldo’s photography celebrates a common theme: iconic moments of people coming together and the description of the places where they meet to celebrate themselves or life itself.

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© Image: Reinaldo Coddau H.