Friday, June 15, 2007
Caesar Lima - Building The Look
For Caesar Lima, the beginning of the basis for his imagery comes down to a simple mantra: Always be creative
Outside The Box
Everything Lima shoots seems to involve some sort of creative invention, from the gear he uses to the worlds he develops. Although all of his images go through his computer, the special effects that give Lima's images that unique look are often created in the camera. It's not uncommon for his photographs to emerge from the computer almost untouched. His retouching philosophy is to try to perfect the images as he envisioned them, not to enable him to cut corners during shooting. Whether it's from selective focus or dramatic lighting, Lima wants his finished images to have stopping power without looking cheap.
“Image manipulation is done only for a specific reason, and that's to be unnoticeable,” he adds. “A lot of the effects are done in-camera. I even won a digital award a few years ago on a shot that had no manipulation at all and was shot on film. It's a thrill to do the wrong thing, the opposite of what's expected.”
Lima's opposite approach helps him to deliver a fresh look for clients who often feel like they have seen it all. He was once given a cover shot for Nails, a magazine about fingernail care, with the direction that he could shoot anything he wanted as long as he delivered an image about nails. So, of course, Lima photographed a group of painted nails—of the carpentry kind. The client's reaction? They loved it.
Looking through his online portfolio, Lima's out-of-the-box approach is everywhere. It would be easy to assume that it's simply a result of using the highest of the high-tech tools and relying on hours of postproduction work to give an image its zing. In fact, many photographs, like those in his series of projection images in which a model's body is covered with illuminated text, wouldn't be possible with quite the same results if Lima attempted them in the computer. Instead, he makes them the relatively simple, old-fashioned way—with actual lights.
“I really enjoy shooting the projection images,” he says. “It's something that can't be done in Photoshop. We use a spot flash head that can project gobos for textures. We make custom masks with text and project it onto naked bodies. It's a pretty cool effect.”
Ultimately, Lima chooses his tools, techniques and special effects, whether they're done in-camera or in postproduction, based on what will most successfully bring his vision to life. That uncompromising effort has paid off in a line of big-name customers beating down his door. Even so, for Lima, it has never been just about pleasing the biggest clients or landing the top-dollar jobs. His task has always been simpler: to express himself and create images that bring his vision to life.
“We should never worry about money,” Lima says. “I never chased it. I do it from the heart. I'm very thankful that I've been able to make a living doing what I do. The big mistake people make is that they chase the money. They're always thinking of getting rich quick. Money is a consequence—the result of a job well done. And your chances are much better if you love what you do, if you're confident, if you take chances.”
To see more of Caesar Lima's photography, visit www.caesarphoto.com.
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