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Ricardo Stuckert, the man who shapes the public image of Lula da Silva

A figure hovers around the Brazilian Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva in all the public acts of the former president and new candidate, be it a rally, a meeting with businessmen, a visit to some farmers or an interview with a foreign correspondent. A camera hangs from each shoulder. It moves fast in a small space. He shoots one camera, the other, takes a cell phone out of his pocket, records video, gestures so that Lula and the rest come closer, move away, look at him… Ricardo Stuckert, 52 years old, dark suit, white shirt, thin tie, glasses and half mane to two waters, is the official photographer of Lula.

He became the shadow of the veteran Lula two decades ago, when he first took office as president. Since that New Year of 2003, when the worker put on the presidential band and promised to fight so that each Brazilian had three meals a day. Stuckert is the person who shapes the public image of the favorite to win the October presidential elections in Brazil. The Brazilian comes to be what the photojournalist Pete Souza meant in the years of Barack Obama’s presidency.

Difficult to synthesize the thousands of images he has taken in these 20 years. During Lula’s two presidential terms, they traveled around the world together, but the most remembered photos were taken in Brazil. There are the ones that show Lula hovering above a sea of ​​supporters just before entering and leaving prison—both taken at the metalworkers’ union headquarters where Lula was born as a political leader—surrounded by excited crowds as a man of the people. ; embracing the poor and the famous as a father or in a recent moment of complicity with his companion Dilma (Rousseff, his successor). He exclusively signed the photos of his recent wedding with a veteran militant named Janja and signs every photo that the Lula team spreads on social networks, a crucial instrument of propaganda in this country hooked on the Internet.

A veteran agency photographer who has been covering Brazilian news for three decades and who prefers to speak anonymously explains what distinguishes Stuckert’s work: “He took advantage of the opportunity of having unlimited access to always take a photo that was different from the others, with a more positive message, less formal, more proLula”.

The photographer speaks little about his work but a few days ago, when presenting a book of images of President Lula’s international trips in São Paulo, he defined it as follows: “They often ask me, do you do photography or ideology? I always say that I do photography, but that my ideas are there, my vision of the world is there. The photos should speak for themselves. A few months earlier, in an interview with UOL, he defined his conception of photography: “It’s magic, it shows a world that people don’t know, that reveals feelings, that brings stories.”

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The tense relationship that both Lula and Bolsonaro have with the big Brazilian media and that Brazil is so enormous that politicians of all stripes are the protagonists of many acts without any independent journalist on the ground further reinforce the power of the images that each one of them spreads. Stuckert also skilfully makes use of the rich archive that he has created so that his boss can succeed in networks following anniversaries, commentaries on celebrities or current news.

The power of images in political communication is the title of a course that Lula’s head photographer recently taught. She sucked the trade in family. His father, Roberto, was the official photographer of the last dictator of Brazil, General Figueredo, his brother Roberto, his son, was the official photographer of President Dilma Rousseff. They are some of the heirs to the trade of great-grandfather Stuckert, who, upon arriving in Brazil from Switzerland at the beginning of the 20th century, opened a photography business.

Photographer Stuckert places a folder in front of the presidential candidate as former Foreign Minister Celso Amorim looks on, on August 29 in São Paulo. Lela Beltrao

Known in the trade for his determination to have absolute control and monopolize Lula’s image, the pandemic gave him a golden opportunity. Much of Brazil was housebound when Lula returned to the political arena, after being released from jail for the annulment of convictions. Although they never lost the relationship, for a time, Stuckert turned to a very different project: portraying the diversity of Brazilian indigenous people. Among the unique images in his trajectory, that of two uncontacted indigenous people pointing their arrows and looking at the helicopter in which he was flying over Acre.

Lula’s return to the political front line was via Zoom, difficult for someone who loves contact with his supporters. She gave interviews and participated in live broadcasts from home, where Stuckert turned the kitchen into a television set, as Lula’s wife showed in a tweet about the backroom of her remote acts.

“Over time, stuckinha (the nickname by which he is known) has transcended far beyond photography. He is always by Lula’s side, he gives him security”, says the aforementioned photojournalist. He is the person Lula looks for with her eyes if something is not to her liking. Always aware of his boss, he portrays each gesture the same way, organizing the rest of the professionals who follow the presidential candidate, explaining the conditions, asking them to turn up the volume when the politician does not hear the question well and brings him the water when he clears his throat .

They treat each other with respect and affection. Lula’s second wife, the late Marisa, was his godmother. Now, a month before the elections, Stuckert is no longer the only one who flutters around the former president. He leads a large team of photojournalists who capture every public moment of the candidate.

The only time Stuckert is remembered without a camera in hand was in Los Angeles, during the Oscars ceremony in 2020. He arrived there as a candidate for a statuette. He participated in the documentary democracy in danger as director of photography. It’s about the impeachment of Rousseff, the traumatic departure from power of the Brazilian left that Lula now intends to reverse in a return that the photographer documents.

Stuckert, in the background, photographs Lula as he speaks in the presence of Iratxe Garcia, president of the socialist group in the European Parliament, on August 29 in São Paulo.
Stuckert, in the background, photographs Lula as he speaks in the presence of Iratxe Garcia, president of the socialist group in the European Parliament, on August 29 in São Paulo. Lela Beltrao

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Source: EL PAIS

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