In 2016 Marcos Florentino and Kelvin Yule met at a fashion event where they were both working. “Marcos was photographing a campaign and I was participating in the final of a fashion film contest,” says Yule. “In the beginning it was more about helping each other in our respective work, but in December of that same year in a very organic way we decided to unite our two visions into one and we photographed our first editorial signing as a duo.”
The pair now go by the name of Mar+Vin and have picked up commissions from Elle Brasil, Vogue Brasil, Levi’s, GQ Brasil and many more. Florentino and Yule believe the key to their success is about combining their different styles rather than trying to match them. “Many people think that in order to work together with someone you need to think the same way, and have the same tastes, same references, but that’s not the case here,” says Yule. “We have very particular visions and opinions that often diverge, and it’s that divergence that usually gives us the chance to make something different.”
Mar+Vin’s visual style is influenced by classical art with sculptural silhouettes and nods to symbolism, but they’re keen to incorporate local references from their Brazillian hometowns through locations and colour palettes. “Being from the northeast region of Brazil, which is the richest in culture, plays a huge part here, because much of our work is inspired by our childhood experiences, our culture, and the myths and legends of where we were born,” explains Yule.
“We have always had this desire to rewrite stories, this has always been an extremely important point for us, since our first editorial, and I feel that even after all this time, and after we changed a lot of our vision on how we see our work, this feeling and this duty remains.”
Whether it’s for a personal project or a commission, while they want the final photo to be aesthetically pleasing it also needs to have meaning, so narrative is important to the duo.
“We always try to put meaning into every single thing we create, and this is kind of a challenge, but we think it’s really part of what we do, even if you never notice,” says Yule. “We also usually try to participate in the whole process of image conception and I strongly believe that makes a huge difference in everything.”
The number of commissions Mar+Vin has worked on has grown over the last year, and the duo are keen to soak up as much as possible. “The most incredible thing in the process is the joining of several visions into one. I usually say that every day on the set is a learning process, and this does not always refer only to the act of photographing, but also to experiences,” says Yule.
“For a long time these workplaces have been hostile and uninviting places for people like us, but we are trying to promote those changes within our set, because we already know what it feels like to have no voice at all and it is not a nice feeling, I would not like people to feel this way around us.”
Trying to make the industry feel more representative and provide alternative perspectives has been one of Florentino and Yule’s biggest challenges. “Around 54% of Brazil’s population is people of colour, and even then it is hard for people outside the country to name a Brazilian black model, for example, that says a lot,” explains Yule. “We are so much more than the cliché of booty, beach and samba. We are a country of continental dimensions, vast in culture and customs that for a long time have been neglected. Our people have many beauties and many faces and our role is to show them to the world in the most sensitive and responsible way we can.”
There’s a warmth in Mar+Vin’s fashion photography, and the pair simply want viewers to feel something when looking at their work. “Living in the era of Instagram, where images are only seen for a few seconds, making someone feel something positive is extremely difficult,” says Yule. “When we get messages saying that our work inspires someone, we feel that we’re on the right path.”