Written by WALTER GRIO
When did you know you wanted to be a photographer?
I still remember a walk with my mother to a local grocery store in Belgium while on a trip visiting my grandparents. It was a very stormy day, cloudy, dark grey skies, and suddenly one of the clouds opened up allowing streams of the sun over the fields. I grabbed the camera out of my mother’s hands and captured it, a gorgeous image. I admired it for many years. Fascinated by the light, I knew photography entered my life to stay, but I also knew that in a third world country like Brazil and where I am from, photography 30 years ago was considered a hobby and not a profession. My parents would never have allowed me to pursue it. So I went ahead and entered a conventional path of education in Languages and Literature and did not touch a camera again for almost 23 years. It took so long to find my way back to what I firmly believe is who I am.
Can you take us through the process of what it’s like to do an editorial photoshoot?
Editorials are born from a variety of situations and reasons. It is hard to tell because there are so many things that can initiate a story: a color, a specific design, a location, a smell, a feeling. Of course shooting a story is an evolution. The beauty in it lies in the fact that the unexpected do happen. I think even for a control freak like me, there is only so much you can realistically control. People like to think that they are in control at all times, especially photographers, and I speak from experience, but the truth is that the dynamic of the group has a major influence on it and on the end product.
For exactly that reason and because I do not believe in working exclusively with one permanent team, the scheduling process of artists is project oriented to ensure the best results at all times.
What advice would you give to a photographer who’s just starting out?
I started photographing on my own 7 years ago, way before I entered school and got my degree in Professional Photography. And honestly I think the fact that I knew my equipment and had some knowledge before I entered school was a huge advantage I had in comparison to others who just got a camera in their hands for the very first time. This gave me time to focus on other things, to concentrate on learning things that are hard to figure out on your own while all others were happy to know their cameras better at the end of introduction class. I do not say this is the ultimate path to go. Everyone is different, everyone learns and approaches a subject differently, so I can not point one way or the other. What I think is important is to shoot, to go out and do it over and over again, and not to be scared of making mistakes. We all make them and there is no way of learning without making mistakes. Next time it will be better, and the time after that even better. It is just the way it works. Don’t be afraid!
What do you think of Washington, DC as a place for fashion?
DC will never be NY or LA, and honestly why do people think we need a second NY or a second LA? Why do people focus so much of their time in copying, in trying to copy instead of trying to make their own, creating something better? This reminds me of a slogan we had in our classrooms at school ‘SHUT UP AND SHOOT’, still my favorite of all times!
I am not much of a talker. Don’t tell me what you can do, but show me what you can do!
DC has great and substantial talents in all fields, from hair, to makeup, manicurist, models, photogs, great locations, studios. I believe DC can be everything it puts its mind to be. It may be someday even bigger in fashion than NY simply because a single city on the East coast may not be able to absorb all demand, plus price wise we all know that many are already leaving NY and going other places for campaign shoots. And in my opinion, it may become even a trend in the next few years. Tough economy bears changes, and one of the most obvious change is shifting locations. I see potential for sure!
What inspires you to do what you do and what inspires you to keep doing it?
As mentioned above, inspirations come via so many channels. It is hard to tell. For sure, people who crossed my path have big influences on my work. I am a firm believer that a photographer is as strong as the weakest link on his team. Without the input and 100% commitment of all talents involved, there is no excellence!
The best reward in the world is to have in your hands a great product, to see your client, your team leaving the shoot tired, beat up, but with a great smile in their faces, with a sensation of ‘mission accomplished’. At the end of the day if everyone leaves happy, most likely they will be back. It is important to keep in mind that no matter how much of this is our passion, we are service providers. We deliver images: quality, consistency, service, hopefully not fully strange sounding words in this business.