Melt: Portrait of an Iceberg

Posted on: March 30th, 2009 by: Zack Seckler

Photographer Simon Harsent, who I was thrilled to feature on The F STOP in 2007, has a new gallery opening in April. Below is a thoughtful and revealing look at the personal history that inspired his larger body of work about icebergs.


Ever since I can remember I’ve been fascinated by the way the decisions I make determine the paths that I’ll take on my journey through life. Each road leads to other roads and those roads lead to others and so on: an infinite number of options. Some roads might intersect, or even lead to the same destination; but there are some from which there is no turning back.

I set foot on the most crucial of my roads of no return when I was eleven years old: I had decided to paint a picture of the Titanic colliding with the iceberg. I don’t really know why I decided to paint a picture, or why this subject came to me, but three years later, I was still painting. I had become deeply interested in art and art history. I spent hours painting and looking at reproductions of paintings by major artists, many of whom are still my main source of inspiration. Then came another road, another choice. Photography was offered as an harsent-melt-37.jpgoption at school. I signed up for the class thinking of it as nothing more than a way of documenting things I might want to paint. When I developed my first photo – when I saw the image coming clear – everything changed. I felt something I’d never felt before: intense, absorbing, wholly personal. The word ‘vision’ took on a whole new meaning. I knew for sure that photography would be the great passion of my life.

I often think back to the moment when I decide to paint the iceberg. I have no doubt that the journey I’m on now is linked to this defining moment in my life. The body of work that constitutes “Melt” could never have come into being any other way. During my research into the Titanic disaster, I discovered that the iceberg had almost certainly travelled down Iceberg Alley, an area off the West coast of Greenland where icebergs break away from the ice-wall, travel from Baffin Bay to the East Coast of Newfoundland and Labrador and then enter the shipping lanes. The images here show the icebergs off the East Coast of Newfoundland. They have travelled hundreds of miles, and have been so battered and broken down that they are little more than ghosts of what they once were.harsent-melt-27.jpg

Seeing the icebergs first in their overpowering grandeur and then, later, about to be absorbed back into the flux from which they came, is an experience both beautiful and humbling. That metamorphosis endows each with it’s own personality, each with it’s own story. This project had its origin in a wholly personal moment. It is impossible, however, to look at these images and not think of the environmental issues we face right now. Just as the choice I made in my childhood in some ways defined me as a man, so the choices we are making as a species will define who we become, and what becomes of the planet on which we live.

Melt: Portrait of an Iceberg by Photographer Simon Harsent opens at the Olive Gordon Gallery in Toronto on Friday, April 3, 2009 from 5-8pm. Artist will be in attendance. The show will run from April 3 – April 24, 2009. Gallery hours are Monday-Friday 11am-5pm, Saturday April 11th 12pm-4pm, or by appointment.

The images on show were all taken off the coast of St Johns Newfoundland they are a selection from a larger body of work of Icebergs in Greenland and in Newfoundland showing them at the beginning and end of their journey through Iceberg Alley.

80 Spadina Ave, suite 501
Toronto, ON
M5V 2J4

Chris Anthony’s new show “Venice”

Posted on: March 26th, 2009 by: Zack Seckler

Chris Anthony, a photographer I had the pleasure of interviewing in late 2007, recently sent me details of his new solo exhibition titled “Venice.” Below are a selection of images from the show and a few words by the gallery explaining the concept and when/where it will open. Congrats Chris!

Chris Anthony Venice 2Chris Anthony Venice 1Corey Helford Gallery is proud to present “Venice”, the solo exhibition of new works by award-winning Los Angeles photographer Chris AnthonyFor his third solo show with the Gallery, Anthony creates an extraordinary world in flux where the moody tides of fact and fiction converge. As global warming causes ocean levels to rise and the melting of Antarctic Ice sheets, a mysterious sinking civilization is unveiled, entitled “Venice”. Inhabited by aquatic survivors and enchanting lost souls, “Venice’s” otherworldly atmosphere is heightened by Anthony’s signature aesthetic and technical artistry. Models and muses Emily DeschanelJacinda BarrettMercedes Helnwein and lead singer of My Chemical Romance, Gerard Way and his wife Lindsey Way are featured in the photographs, adding their unique persona to the dramatic narratives. The exhibition marks Anthony’s first major project shot outdoors, and his icy palette of greys and blues creates the illusion of an arctic climate, skillfully deceiving the balmy Venice Beach, California location where the series was photographed.In Anthony’s own words “Venice is a metaphor for a sinking city, deserving of nature’s wrath, leaving its citizens to tread water and explore new ways to sustain life on aquatic earth.” “Venice” opens on Saturday, March 28, 2009 at Corey Helford Gallery’s special exhibition space located at 6086 Comey Avenue in Los Angeles. The show is open to the public and will be on view until April 18, 2009. 

Upcoming Photo Contests

Posted on: March 20th, 2009 by: Zack Seckler

There are so many photography contests out there, it can be a bit overwhelming for photographers to decide where to submit. Rob Haggart of A Photo Editor discusses how some contests are worth submitting to and how others are just scams. Below are a few contests with deadlines looming (although they always seem to be magically extended at the last moment!) that might be worth checking out. Thank you Gabriela Herman for compiling this list.


International Photo Awards Deadline: March 27

Fresh Fairs portfolio review and juried art fair Deadline March 27th.

International Photography Festival F/Stop Leipzig Deadline April 6

PDN Faces Deadline: April 7

National Geographic The Great Outdoors Deadline April 20

New York Photo Festival Deadline: May 1

Hey Hot Shot Deadline May 1st.

Humbe Arts Foundation Grant Deadline Tuesday, May 9

The Design Trust Photo Urbanisim 5 Fellowship Deadline May 15

Photography Book Now: Deadline: July 16

Magnum Expression award Deadline: Sept 30

The Times – In Motion

Posted on: March 17th, 2009 by: Zack Seckler

Move over Edward Muybridge. The very talented photographer Guy Neveling (who you may remember from our interview last year) blogs about a recent ad shoot he photographed that is reminiscent of Muybridge’s motion studies from the 19th century. Oh how far we’ve come.

By: Guy Neveling


The brief was given to 3 photogs to create a ‘motor driven’ sequence of the dancer and diver. I first thought that maybe the motor drive lit with HMI’s would be the way to go but wasn’t convinced on how crisp I was going to get it as I really needed crisp!  I also did not want to sacrifice the lighting mood just for the use of a motor drive, i.e. yes the shots were about the sequence but they also still had to look great. So in the end I opted to ask the talent if they could work on a sequence before the shoot day (well mostly the dancer, the diver we worked out on the day). On the shoot day I started with the background and we did the whole sequence to work out the frame and space needed. Then we set the mood by lighting the background first, once that was down the fun started. We started at the one end of the stage/pool, lighting the talent until I was happy it would gel with the background. We went through each step of the way concentrating on getting just one good shot for each step i.e. light for the 1st step and get it right, then move onto the 2nd step taking the entire lighting setup with us down the line to keep the light constant. We also made sure it worked together by cutting and pasting on the screen as we proceeded. The jump shots were the real deal. As a kid I used to read a lot about the grtimes-diver-fstop.jpgeat fighter aces of the Battle of Britain, and I always remember the South African ace (of course!) Sailor Malan who taught his guys the ‘deflection shot’, something he learned from hunting in the bush (not great), basically if you aim for the moving target you’re going to miss, you must judge where it’s heading and shoot just in front so that it flies into the tracer (in this case pixels). Well I relayed that story when asked how I was going to do the jumps and everyone thought maybe they chose the wrong guy for the job!  Anyway the dancer I cracked after about 5 or 6 jumps, the guy in the pool about the same, and the last shot where he has entered the water was 1 shot. With the diver we didn’t have much choice but to crack it as it was around 2 in the morning, he was cold and we only had 4 changes of shorts which the stylists were blow drying after each jump. The reading shots we did static and then comped the top half onto the bottom half of the bodies. We were lucky with the locations as they were in the same school. I also wanted to shoot the pool in the evening so that we could light it, this meant that we started the dance shot around 7 in the morning, finished it about 5 in the afternoon, had a bite to eat and then went on to the dive shot when it got dark. We wrapped at about 3 in the morning.

Rebranding of National Geographic by Team Envy

Posted on: March 4th, 2009 by: Zack Seckler

Three consultants blog about how they re-branded National Geographic’s Assignment division. Lot’s of before and after shots to check out and some ideas for photographers trying to re-brand their image.

By: Team Envy

When National Geographic, a name synonymous with the best photographers in the World, came to re-brand their assignment division, we were ready for the task. The Team Envy Team comprises of Suzanne Sease, Amanda Sosa Stone and Nadine Stellavato Brown.   Suzanne and Amanda are the only consultants who have been in the trenches from inside the agency, corporation, magazine and graphic design firms = your targets.  When Suzanne and Amanda met with National Geographic and saw their current marketing, they knew they had to bring in Nadine Stellavato Brown of Brand Envy. Their website, portfolios and marketing material all needed to be updated

Advertising Before:


Website Before:


Promotional Materials:


We were assigned 27 of the first tier of National Geographic photographers who were best suited for commercial assignment work.  Each photographer would require an edit of all their images to be presented in an individual portfolio, compilation portfolio, website with multiple categories, e-promotional materials, leave behind mailer and group mailers.  In addition, they also needed marketing for the Assignment division with a new logo, website, special mailers and a launch party in New York City.

Two of the biggest challenges were the “yellow box” and the preconceived notion of what a National Geographic photographer was able to shoot.  Most creatives at advertising agencies were not aware that an NG photographer could be hired to do a photo shoot for their advertisement.  It was our goal to tell them that they can both hire them and get a well produced image from these photographers.  It was Nadine’s challenge to work with  design confinements of the yellow box.  Here are samples of what we had to work with:


Several Design Samples were given by Nadine:






With the final selection of:


The new website:



The next challenge was the selection of work that had commercial value instead of looking like journalistic assignment for magazines.  Suzanne and Amanda used their experiences as art buyers to select images that “sold” something from an emotion to a product.  When we first saw the work – presented in a traditional black leather screw post book with acetate pages and single image spreads, we were thrilled with what we knew we could do for their books, let alone their website. It was a matter of editing from the thousands of images each of these amazing photographer had in their libraries. We sat down with each photographer and did a 2 hour consult to review their work and their photographic goals.

The project was not an easy task.  Gathering up the work and convincing each talent of their photographic commercial style was also a challenge.  After seeing their work in documentary style for so many years, some changes were hard to make.

The portfolios were printed on double sided moab paper and presented in a Lost Luggage portfolio (  The website was designed and hosted by LiveBooks.  We went with Livebooks because it allowed us to have backend access for easy and quick updates.  Having content for 27 photographers was a challenge and having backend access was crucial.  The process was grueling, as not all the images were sized perfectly (thousands of images – you can’t expect everything to be perfect at first).

The portfolios and website ( were done and now we needed a way to launch the new branding, so we had a launch party, e-promo and a kick ass mailer.  The invitation to the launch party was a beautiful letter press invite and color coordinated party favors, food and t-shirts “Yellow is the new Black” (our  design theme).


E-promo sample (sent by and mailer poster with perforated mailer so the receiver has individual postcards on each photographer.


front of poster:


back of poster:


Suzanne Sease – Creative Consultant

Amanda Sosa Stone – Creative Consultant

Nadine Stellavato Brown – Creative Director

Is photography really dead?

Posted on: March 1st, 2009 by: Zack Seckler

Christakis Christodoulou the Director of Saddington & Baynes, a top notch retouching company out of London, offers his view on how CGI will continue to impact the photography industry and how the role of photographers will change.

By: Christakis Christodoulou, Director of Saddington & Baynes

Some CGI artists claim that CGI will completely take over from photography, but this is a bold statement to make. After all, that’s what people said when digital retouching first came on the scene nearly 20 years ago. As creative retouchers with a deep understanding of photography, we’ve embraced CGI because we feel that it’s an extremely innovative and useful image creation tool that can be used as an extension to an artist’s existing creative tool kit.

It’s probably fair to say that because of CGI, traditional studio photography will begin to fade away in the next couple of years. But to make great ‘photographic’ images, as with retouching, a healthy relationship between the CGI studio and photographer still needs to be a part of the image creation process. The role of the photographer is simply evolving, as is ours from just a retouching studio to a full creative production facility. Whilst we have a strong grasp of photographic technique, it’s preferable in many cases to also have a photographer’s eye looking over an image, as they can often help define the lighting and camera angles and spot errors that the untrained eye can’t always see.

When we’re working in CGI, we often have a photographer in the room who’s involved in decisions on technical composition. This allows the CGI artist to gain an extra perspective – something which we find invaluable. The photographer’s role is now akin to that of a director of photography on a film. The role has diversified from managing and shooting images to directing the entire image and all of the final elements that comprise it.

We’d argue that the rise of CGI is reducing the need for complex set building and model making – not photography. CGI is capable of doing all these things, saving companies time and money. An environment can be created virtually and adjustments can be instantly made to backgrounds, colours, scenery and surfaces.

A great example of how CGI can be used for model-making is in the construction of photorealistic animals. Every photographer knows that it’s tricky to keep an animal still on a shoot! But they have strong reservations about producing computer generated animals for print adverts because there’s a general feeling that they won’t look realistic enough. Lately we’ve been challenging this theory and have set about creating a series of photorealistic animals.© Saddington & Baynes

In particular, our creation of a CGI piglet has enabled us to push our creative skills to another level, and also allowed us to offer another service to photographers. But producing CGI animals isn’t easy. Because a viewer will often look at a print advert for longer then they would a TV commercial, fine details such as hair, skin imperfections and inconsistent fur colours all have to be taken into consideration. For something to come across as photorealistic, every last detail needs to be perfect.

We based our CGI piglet on photographic reference, but created it entirely from scratch using Autodesk Maya 3D software and ZBrush. We created the basic model frame of the piglet and then added features such as the snout, ears, tail and hooves before adding finer details like hairs and skin tone colouring. There’s also a layer below the skin of veins and arteries, to give the skin the realism required. A CGI project like this would take on average two to three weeks.

In terms of set building, CGI can solve many problems for a photographer. As well as being more flexible creatively, it can save time and money. But CGI also allows a photographer to experiment with different set ideas and different lighting set ups incredibly quickly without spending a day building physical sets. Simple things like changing the colour of objects or adding in more furniture can be done in a few hours and completely change the look of an image. The ability to instantly change lenses is also a very powerful benefit, because we can match the aspect ratio of any camera and even tilt and shift the lens as you would with a 5” x 4” camera. We’re often asked to combine CGI elements with retouching and to composite images into CGI sets – and we’ve recently created an image of a studio that’s completely CGI. When working with a photographer to combine their photography with CGI, there’s an element of trust involved from them to be able to let this combination happen.  As retouchers for over 18 years, we have solid experience of combining multiple elements and making the joins seamless. Having them come in-house to see how we work and the creative process involved can really help open their eyes to what CGI can do for them.  We have a creative workflow, S&B PreVis, which allows the photographer to pre-visualise a shoot before they go on set or on-location, selecting camera height, lens etc and we supply all of the relevant measurements with a series of diagrams that can be matched on-set.

When creating environments, CGI is incredibly flexible. It means that time spent scouting around for a perfect location, getting the right permits etc or the need to build a complex set needn’t be a problem anymore. With CGI, scale and perspective can be easily altered and objects moved from the background into the foreground with ease. Another advantage is that the scale and behaviour of textures and materials can also be controlled, so you can make glass behave like crystal, for instance.

With these options now available to photographers, we believe that CGI represents an opportunity for them to broaden their role. And with the introduction of these techniques, the photographer’s eye is now needed more than ever to oversee the composition of images and ensure they look visually correct. It’s no longer about photography but about imagery. And if photographers embrace CGI as part of their image making toolkit – like they have retouching, model-making and set-building – their careers will flourish rather than flounder.

Carioca Studio

Posted on: March 1st, 2009 by: Zack Seckler

Final image created by Carioca StudioWritten by T.K. Dalton
Edited by Jesi Khadivi and Zack Seckler

From the moment a person learns their name, Carioca Studio stands out from the pack. The reason: this studio is less of a physical place (though it’s that, too) than a state of mind. Carioca is a Romanian based collective. They privilege their group identity over individual—in fact, even this article only quotes the studio itself. The concept is not unheard of but not many collectives have risen to the professional level of Carioca, which has shot for Nestle, Kraft Foods, Snickers, Toyota, Hyundai, Renault, Sony, Mercedes, Yamaha, and Honda. They’ve received top recognition too, being listed among the 200 Best Ad Photographers worldwide with ten images published in Lurzer’s Archive.

Major benefits of being a member of this cooperative are being able to talk collectively about works in progress, share ideas and the ability to simply accept more work, says a member of Carioca (who requestAn photo used in the final composited imageed to remain anonymous). Details are also easier to see with another set of eyes, says a member of Carioca. “When you are by yourself you can easily get carried away with a dumb idea. Working together gives us more power. When an agency or client is in a big hurry and says, ‘okay, I’m desperate, give me a solution,’ we can work more quickly,” a member of Carioca says. “It’s a very good organization, but I don’t know if this would work for everyone. We have known each other for a really long time.” Because of this, trust is essential. “You really have to know the people and trust them,” he says. He adds that there’s nothing about Romania, a former Soviet bloc country with cheaper production costs than western Europe or the U.S., that makes it especially nurturing to a cooperative model. “After all these years of forced togetherness everybody wants to do things on his own without anyone else telling him what to do.”An photo used in the final composited image

It’s spoken like an artist who “mainly [does] advertising with fantastic big stories.” That aesthetic may not come as a surprise when you learn of Caroica’s origins. “Like any famous rock band, we met in high school and then went to the Art Academy in Bucharest. After working in advertising for a few years we started Carioca Studio,” a member says. (The name, incidentally, is Romanian for “felt pen,” a slightly absurd fact the founders seemed to appreciate). The original quartet of three photographers and a producer has grown to a group of 12. “Now we have more people and started a production department, a building department and a post-production department. We mostly take the photos and supervise the post-production.”An photo used in the final composited image

That post-production skill was evident in our featured image, shot for the World Wildlife Federation. After collecting junk from across Bucharest, they spent nearly a week shooting and producing the pelican and the surrounding junkyard from dozens of individual images. They didn’t use any artificial lighting in any of the shots, just ambient light. “We like to shoot on sunny days because we can see the contrast of the details. We can make it as gloomy and dark as we want in post-production and still see all the details.” They photographed all this junk using a variety of lenses and exposures but the individual captures weren’t that important, the extensive post-production was what brought it all together. Hours spent in front of The pelican created from dozens of pieces of individually photographed junkglowing computer screens and a detailed approach to compositing is the real magic behind this image.

The global economic downturn has not affected Carioca as badly, if only because from Bucharest, they had little access to major accounts to begin with. A member of Carioca noted that many western production companies have moved in recently, due to the lower cost of doing business. Even in assessing the industry, the collective member we interviewed began speaking as the group. “Our personal opinion is that it will be not that bad here,” says a member of Carioca. “The economic growth will slow down, but things will still be moving.”

Carioca Studio was interviewed by our Editor Zack Seckler about their company and their craft:

F STOP: Let’s start off by discussing how your studio created our featured image for the World Wildlife Fund.Creating the image in post-production

Carioca Studio: We spoke with our director to determine our vision for the image. From there we made sketches and did photo treatments before shooting.  We chose to do a lot in post-production because it offers us greater liberty composing.

F STOP: Did you just go to a junkyard to find all of the trash in this image?

Carioca Studio: Not only junk yards, but chop shops and really nice deserted landscapes on the edge of the city.

F STOP: The image looks like it was shot on a dark cloudy day, but the components of the composite image look like they were shot on a very sunny day. Is there a specific reason that you did that?Creating the image in post-production, a little further along…

Carioca Studio: The landscapes weren’t shot in a single day. Given the amount of post-production involved, it doesn’t really bother us. The combination of the elements gives the atmosphere. Also, we like to shoot on sunny days because we can see the contrast of the details. We can make it as gloomy and dark as we want in post-production and still see all the details.

F STOP: There wasn’t any concern about the lighting coming from different angles?

Carioca Studio: We flipped them in post-production so all of the them have the light coming from more or less the same point, which is very important for the realism.Creating the image in post-production, getting closer…

F STOP: Tell me about the decision to go with a cyan yellow and green palette. Is that something that the art director wanted? How did you execute it?

Carioca Studio: We talk with him about it. The campaign had two images. The deer photo was shot with warmer browns and yellows, the pelican was cooler.

F STOP: How much time was spent on post-production for the pelican image?

Carioca Studio: About four or five days.

F STOP: Tell me about Carioca Studio and how it got started?Creating the image in post-production, a few steps before the final image

Carioca Studio: Four associates started Carioca. Three photographers and one production guy. Like any famous rock band, we met in high school and then went to the Art Academy in Bucharest. After working in advertising for a few years we started Carioca Studio. Now we have more people and started a production department, a building department and a post-production department. We mostly take the photos and supervise the post-production. We only do post-production for our photographers, otherwise it could be a conflict of interest.

F STOP: How many people work at Carioca total?

Carioca Studio: Twelve with three senior photographers and a junior photographer.

F STOP: When did Carioca start?

Carioca Studio: Carioca was started in 2005, but we worked together for at least four years before.

F STOP: Why did the three of you decide to work together instead of individually?

Carioca Studio: We deliver visuals with post-production solutions and felt that we could build this more efficiently together. We don’t physically work together, but we talk about each project and I think a better product comes out of this collaboration.

F STOP: Have there ever been any conflicts or differences of opinion?

Carioca Studio: Sometimes, but nothing major. It’s normal to have disagreements, but in the end it all sorts out well.An image from Carioca Studios’ portfolio

F STOP: When you get a job for an ad agency, do all three of you go on set and shoot it or does one of you do one shoot?

Carioca Studio: Only one of us goes on the set. We all do all kinds of photography. We don’t promote individually, so we always appear under the name Carioca. It’s very important for us to be presented under one name because even if I do a project I cannot say it is entirely mine. During the course of a project others were involved in one way or the other. It’s really teamwork.

F STOP: When you get an assignment, it’s only one photographer who goes and shoots it, right?

Carioca Studio: Usually we do it by whoever finished a project last gets to take the next one. This is the basic principle.

F STOP: So you just rotate?

Carioca Studio: Yes, exactly. When there are periods with more work, usually each person has at least one project underway. It’s hard to do otherwise.

F STOP: How do you promote yourself?

Carioca Studio: We promote our work through festivals and our website. Plus, if you do good work for someone it promotes itself.

F STOP: What do you think are the positive aspects of working with a group of photographers?

Carioca Studio: When you are by yourself you can easily get carried away with a dumb idea, Working together gives us more power. When an agency or client is in a big hurry and says, ‘okay, I’m desperate, give me a solution,’ we can work more quickly.

F STOP: Are there any negative aspects?An image from Carioca Studios’ portfolio

Carioca Studio: Up to this point, I don’t see any. It’s a very good organization, but I don’t know if this would work for everyone. We have known each other for a really long time.

F STOP: Do any of you ever want the recognition individually?

Carioca Studio: Up until now, no.

F STOP: You’re mostly involved in advertising right, do you ever do editorial?

Carioca Studio: Yes, but mostly for art or culture magazines. We want to do it but magazines don’t have big budgets. Our visuals can be spectacular and complicated and aren’t easily done without some production involved.

F STOP: Do any of you do fine art gallery work?

Carioca Studio: We have some plans to do this under the Carioca name.

F STOP: You’re based in Romania. Are most of your clients based in Romania or in Europe?

Carioca Studio: In the beginning all of our clients were in Romania. Now we also have a European portfolio.

F STOP: Anything in the United States?

Carioca Studio: It’s mostly Eastern Europe, Russia, Italy, Spain and so on.

F STOP: What does Carioca mean?An image from Carioca Studios’ portfolio

Carioca Studio: We wanted to have a funny name without any specific or philosophical significance. In Romania Carioca means felt pen.

F STOP: So there is no real meaning behind it?

Carioca Studio: No, it’s just to have fun. If we had a meaning people would hold us to it and we don’t want that. But we want it to be memorable and easy to spell.

F STOP: What are the pros and cons of being based in Romania?

Carioca Studio: In general it’s a good climate to work in Romania, particularly in photography. It’s advertising, it’s very dynamic. Things are developing quickly and there is room for many people. Budgets are growing.  Perhaps a con would be not always having access to big campaigns. Big productions are rare here. Also, clients are sometimes concerned the first time they work here because they don’t know what the people are capable of.

F STOP: Are there a lot of ad agencies in Romania?

Carioca Studio: Yes, and they appear, continuously. All the big multinational agencies are here and also a lot of local agencies.

F STOP: Why Romania?

Carioca Studio: I don’t know. It’s a pretty big country in the region.

F STOP: Are you looking to expand?

Carioca Studio: This year we want to promote more in Europe and within Romania. Our main focus will be working more abroad.

F STOP: Has Carioca seen any changes in business since the global recession started?An image from Carioca Studios’ portfolio

Carioca Studio: No, not yet.  Our personal opinion is that it will be not that bad here. The economic growth will slow down, but things will still be moving. My personal opinion is things will be not as good as last year, but will still be okay.

F STOP: Do you think Carioca will stay in Romania for good?

Carioca Studio: I’m not sure. There are some advantages, for example production is less expensive than Western Europe. It’s easier to deliver the same quality in terms of production and the cost of locations and workers at much lower prices.

F STOP: Do you have access to the same level of talent as in other places?

Carioca Studio: Given the much lower prices in terms of personnel, lots of European and also American production companies have made movies here and we have a lot of skilled people. We have some big studios which work mainly for American and Western European production houses.

F STOP: When you are approached by an ad agency and they want you to bid on a project do they ever request a specific person?

Carioca Studio: It’s happened a couple of times, but we are very firm on this. We say ‘look guys you work with Carioca, all you see in our portfolio is Carioca.’ As I said before, it’s very important not to have preferences.

An image from Carioca Studios’ portfolioF STOP: Why is it so important?

Carioca Studio: It’s about not looking for personal glory or pride. It’s also pragmatic because you cannot load someone with more work when the others have less and their skills are the same.

F STOP: Was your school in Bucharest specifically for advertising photography?

Carioca Studio: No, we went to the Academy of Fine Arts, the best school for fine arts in Bucharest. We started in graphics then took photography courses. We started working as art directors and mixed that with our graphic design and photography experience. It was helpful when we started Carioca because we could talk to advertising people in their language.

F STOP: Are any other Carioca-type studios that are big in advertising?

Carioca Studio: There are some in Europe as far as I know, but not very many.

F STOP: Why not?

Carioca Studio: It’s not very easy. You have to really know the people and trust them.  Understanding is important because producers and photographers sometimes have conflicts because usually a photographer and a producer will want more efficiency, but if you are well organized and know each other well then it is okay.

F STOP: Do you this has anything to do with Romania’s political past? Being a more group-oriented culture?

Carioca Studio: I never thought of this. I don’t think so. The result in Romania is pretty much the opposite. After all these years of forced togetherness everybody wants to do things on his own without anyone else telling him what to do.

To see more from Carioca Studio visit their website.