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Monday, June 11, 2007

Paulo Filgueiras - Fresh Fashions

For Paulo Filgueiras, the journey from surf photographer in Rio de Janeiro to highly demanded fashion shooter in New York has been more challenging and circuitous than his path to digital technology

Fresh Fashions Keeping fashion photography fresh. It's a simple statement, but it's much more of an elusive goal to meet. While some well-known fashion shooters have come up with a look that they recycle time and again, the very best in the field, the true talents, are constantly reinventing themselves and their style in a quest for a new and different collection of imagery. The challenge, always, is to create dynamic photographs that evoke emotions in the viewer while not being so outlandish that they're dismissed as overly contrived and silly.

Paulo Filgueiras is making a mark on the New York fashion scene through inventiveness and a driving desire to create a new look in his images. Although originally from Brazil, Filgueiras hasn't had a difficult time adjusting to the fast-paced, highly competitive professional photography arena in the United States. Part of his success can be attributed to Filgueiras' unhesitating embrace of new technologies. “Cameras, lenses, scanners—these are tools for me,” he says. “Whatever helps me to get the result I want is a tool that I'll use.”

Fashion photography is a dynamic endeavor, different from all other types of shooting. It combines the speed of sports-action with the compositional sense of studio still life. While fashion shooters are sometimes parodied in our popular culture (think Austin Powers), the reality is that it's a high-pressure field where instinct and vision come together to create, hopefully, evocative photographs. Breaking into fashion work takes equal parts of skill, an ability to work with models and art directors, and good fortune. These elements are all part of Filgueiras' personality. “Photography is my life,” he says.“It's all I ever wanted to do. It's a passion.”

As Filgueiras has embraced a digital way of working, he has relied on his past experiences. Always eager to try new equipment, he works extensively in a variety of formats. Says Filgueiras, “I'm flexible and comfortable with all formats and all brands of camera.”

That attitude and adaptability makes a big difference. Many photographers resist changes to their gear for the simple reason that there's a concern it can adversely impact the bottom line. Once you have a film dialed in or a particular lighting setup, you can predict exactly how that arrangement will behave. Any time you alter your tried-and-true formula, you're taking a risk that the results won't be as you planned and there's a chance things will end up unusable. Filgueiras, on the other hand, has been only too happy to try new setups and gear. Like a sculptor who recognizes that a new chisel might enable him to make a special kind of cut in the stone, Filgueiras sees the possibilities in the gear to enable a new photograph.


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