Inspiration Photography

Just Outside Of Johannesburg …

  • Summary / Author

“Staff Riding” documentary captures the risky and rebellious activities of train surfing in South Africa. A film by photojournalist Marco Casino through the eyes of those who ride, those who risk and those whose lives have been affected by it all.

Southafrica.  Just outside of Johannesburg in the township of Katlehong, young men, who fall somewhere between daredevils and wreckless rebels, find freedom and expression through a train surfing activity called ‘staff riding’ – a dangerous activity that involves riding on trains and performing perilous stunts and tricks.

In this short documentary, photojournalist Marco Casino captures this subculture through the eyes of those who ride, those who risk and those whose lives have been affected by it all. 

This is how Marco Casino describes his work:

Staff riding, the local slang for train surfing, is a widespread phenomenon in SA. Katlehong is one of the largest townships in South Africa and has played a key role in the history of the struggle against apartheid. The population is almost entirely made up of blacks, but strongly multiethnic: all the eleven South Africa’s official languages are spoken in the township.

The almost total majority of surfers are kids under 25. Amputations and death are really common. The Prasa Metrorail, the SA train company, is one of the foundations of their society.This connection between train and citizens remained very strong over time.
The spectacular and risky act of train surfing becomes the framework to tell the Katlehong’s young people social fabric.

This place has been the epicenter of the anti-apartheid’s guerrillas, and on the eve of the twentieth anniversary of the facts that we all know , the situation of segregation
has remained more or less unchanged in daily life.

In a context where violence, rampant poverty, abuse of alcool/drugs and infant birth/AIDS are the masters, the train surfing is configured as the search for a social redemption that will never come for the characters of this story.

Staff Riding is part of a long-term project about the township lifestyle 20 years later the struggle against apartheid.



About Marco Casino

Marco Casino is a multimedia photographer specialized in fashion photography and social reportage. In 2014 his train surfing project has been selected in the 30Under30 competition from Magnum Photos and IdeasTap. In March 2014 won the 1st Prize in the Online Short Feature Category of the 2014 World Press Photo Multimedia Contest
He is 27 and currently based between Milan and Turin, Italy. Read more on his Vimeo page.


Please have a look at more of the amazing work by Marco Casino on his website. Get updates on his Facebook page, and on his Blog.