Monday, June 23, 2008
Caesar Lima - Focusing On The Future
Modernist in every aspect of the word, Caesar Lima pushes the boundaries of what it takes to be a professional photographer in a digital world
Caesar Lima is no stranger to the pages of Digital Photo Pro. His award-winning image of Colombian pop star Anasol became the cover shot for the May/June 2006 issue in which Lima was previously featured, and when a photographer like Lima continually lives at the forefront of image making, he merits a second look just to see what he has been up to in the last few years.
Lima's images are known for being clean, crisp and alive with fun and vigor, all aesthetics that the world of commercial photography embraces with enthusiasm. There's an intense yet simple graphic element to each, often with a concentration on strong and uncluttered colors or elegantly contrasted black-and-white images. He frequently does portraiture, showcasing the personality of his subjects by highlighting their defining characteristic, be it athletics, sensuality or just plain fun. His product shots, too, follow the same sensibilities, though Lima consciously fights against convention, even within his own work.
In the “Personal” section of his website, for instance, where you usually find the more risqué images of a photographer's repertoire, you'll discover a collection of meticulously stylized portraits of sculpted toys and action figures, not exactly the kind of portfolio you'd expect from a world-class professional photographer. More or less, though, that's who Lima is. His studio is rife with pinball games, slot machines, a fireman's pole and life-sized statues of super-heroes. Behind it all, Lima is really just an overgrown kid with a lot of talent and even more dedication. His affection for life is catching, and you plainly can tell from his work that the most important thing to him is that everyone has a good time.
Lima is a master of the new market. In an era when the traditional definition of “photographer” is eroding, Lima has adapted and become his own PR machine, taking on the roles of agent, manager and booker. He almost markets himself as if he's his own product. His insignia, a bright red star with a white “C” in the middle, is branded wherever you find his images. And you often see Lima sporting the symbol emblazoned on custom-made baseball caps in behind-the-scenes videos or promo spots. He frequently submits his work to competitions, considering it a must that he wins two to three awards a year to keep himself in the limelight. He takes the time to involve himself in nonprofit events as much as possible, not only for the publicity, but also for himself. He has stepped into the role of producer and director, as well, further establishing himself as a fully rounded artistic presence by founding his own production company, Ginga Films.
Says Lima, “Five years ago, a spread ad in The Black Book would do the job, but right now in this ‘new media world,' you must appeal to every segment—MySpace, Facebook, Altpick, PhotoServe, Workbook, The Black Book, and all in conjunction with your own site. All are a must to hold a strong presence on the Internet. I believe that in a couple of years, the business should become more balanced and steady, but until this new media sets the new rules, we have to cover all the bases.”
While his marketing strategy may be complex, his presentation is not. Lima's website is clean and straightforward, detracting as little as possible from the real selling point, his imagery. His site uses Flash, which many photographers use as a deterrent to the drag-and-drop simplicity of image theft. Not so with Lima, who looks at the Internet as a way to share his images with the masses. So much so that there's a “Print” link under each of his online images for visitors to the site to make prints on their own printers.
“It's like an instant promo!” says Lima. “I want everybody to print and share my images. The more people who see it, the more business I'll get.” Lima is as much a fan of photography as he is a photographer, and he also pens a daily blog (www.pixelpasta.net), posting recent work from other photographers. And, in turn, by showcasing others' celebrated images, he's building his own fan base.
“Before I started with my blog, I used to do this kind of research that I called ‘homework,' always checking what has been done worldwide in advertising,” says Lima. “I research Asian, Brazilian, European advertising markets. I go through 15 to 20 blogs every day also. The blog is a way to keep all those references together, like a digital diary, a picture book. “I'm very surprised with the traffic I'm getting on the blog,” he adds “and it's doubling every month. I go through 30 to 40 ads a day, and I only post the good ones, meaning good copywriting, great design and images that are visually appealing. I think it's very important to be aware of what's going on worldwide. This way your work is always fresh.”