We emailed Art Buyers and Art Producers around the world asking them to submit names of established photographers who were keeping it fresh and up-and-comers who they are keeping their eye on. If you are an Art Buyer/Producer or an Art Director at an agency and want to submit a photographer anonymously for this column email: Suzanne.firstname.lastname@example.org
Anonymous Art Producer: I nominate: Carlo Ricci. “Carlo is wonderfully approachable and in the cusp of making a real name for himself”
How many years have you been in business?
I’ve been shooting professionally for almost 4 years now.
Are you self-taught or photography school taught?
100% self-taught. In Italy I studied Engineering and coached basketball for a living, go wonder.. Photography came somewhat late in my life, I discovered it at 26yo by picking up a Nikon F2 (my dad collects old film cameras) and from that moment on I knew that’s what I wanted to do. I moved to Australia with a 5D and a bag of clothes and I never looked back.
Who was your greatest influence that inspired you to get into this business?
To get into photography nobody really, it just happened; but a few inspired me once I started.
If I have to pin-point one name, it would probably be Simon Harsent. I met him once in Australia and we kept in contact over the following years through sporadic emails, but what he told me stuck with me. He’s such a fantastic photographer and somebody who truly has an honest love for his craft.
I’d also mention Kieran Antill, an amazing artist and creative (great guy too), at the time Creative Director at Leo Burnett in Sydney (now in NY) whom I showed my first ever printed portfolio. He had just won a Cannes Gold Lion Award for advertising, but still took the time and especially the honesty to constructively criticize (let’s say destroy) my book. But he really liked some of my work and that raised my confidence that I was doing something right.
Also, my partner is a photo producer and she’s been incredibly supportive and contributive throughout the last 3 years.
How do you find your inspiration to be so fresh, push the envelope, stay true to yourself so that creative folks are noticing you and hiring you?
I’ll just take that as a compliment, am I fresh?
I mean, you started this column interviewing Nadav Kander, let’s say you raised the bar pretty high for the remaining 95% of us photographers out there..
Going back to your question, I love iconic and very strong/styled images, I look for inspiration in other people’s work but mostly in other fields, especially cinema and music. I try to constantly challenge myself and curiosity is what fuels the search.
I’m also very passionate about what I do, it just comes natural and I feel extremely lucky to be doing it, as it never feels like I’m working really (almost never). I believe that hard work, commitment to your craft and being a nice guy always pays back in the end.
Do you find that some creatives love your work but the client holds you back?
In general I’d say no. I shoot a lot of editorials so the creative is also the client and I find them very open to new and risky ideas. I usually try to shoot something “safe” that I know will work and then I explore more creative options. Even when I think that they were looking for a more “conservative” shot, they always surprise me by picking the one I love the most.
When it comes to advertising work I feel there’s much more preparation and discussion beforehand. If the client signed off on the photographer often it’s because of something he/she has shot before which they liked already and they want something similar. There might have been a conversation on some aspects of the shoot but I always felt that their suggestions were legitimate points.
I’ve probably been really fortunate and it might happen in the future but I’ve never felt that clients were compromising my work.
What are you doing to get your vision out to the buying audience?
I love meeting people face to face. I think this digital revolution opened doors to a lot of creatives and everybody has the chance to put his/her work out there to be seen. There are thousands of talented photographers and reaching out to an art director, a photo buyer or even a client has never been that easy. So now more than ever I value the importance of meeting them personally, getting them to trust me that it will be great working together, both creatively and personally.
I initially reach out through social media or direct emails, maybe follow up with a phone call and every time I’m travelling for a shoot in a new city I try to save some extra time to go and show them my book in person.
What is your advice for those who are showing what they think the buyers want to see?
I’ll go back to Simon Harsent and what he told me that stuck: “Shoot what you love. Because ultimately, that’s the one thing that will make you grow into the best photographer that you can be.”
I think it’s great advice, however I believe it’s normal to overthink about your work and how it will be perceived; I do that all the time. But eventually you want to be shooting what you love, otherwise you’ll find yourself 5 or 10 years down the road that you’re doing something that doesn’t make you happy and more importantly that doesn’t inspire you anymore and that’s the end of creativity. It’s hard because you still have to make a living and I’m definitely not the naïve artist type, but aesthetic is subjective, some art buyers won’t like your work and some will love it, those are the ones you want to be working with. Trying to please everybody is just plain pointless.
Are you shooting for yourself and creating new work to keep your artistic talent true to you?
This past year I’ve mostly been shooting assignments but the one before this I took the whole year off to shoot personal projects (see below).
Editorials are a great in-between, they give you the chance to be creative and try new ideas and at the same time it’s work that gets published. You also constantly deal with all sorts of people, which I think it’s great for interpersonal skills as well.
Having said that, I’m about to take a month off commissioned work to shoot a personal project that I’ve been planning for over two months.
How often are you shooting new work?
In the last few months I’ve been shooting editorials every week but I shoot motion as well and usually video projects take much longer to be planned and executed, so it really depends.
I spend the majority of my time working on ideas and organizing shoots rather than shooting for the sake of it. That’s what my Fuji x100 is for. I’d rather do 30 well thought shoots per year than 300 average ones.
In Australia I used to shoot fashion work pretty much everyday and after a while I found it was killing my creativity. I was so unhappy that I decided to leave. I took a year off with my partner and we drove a VW van from Argentina to Canada, shooting film documentaries for NGOs along the way. Looking back now I believe that for different reasons it has been the most productive year I’ve ever had.
Carlo Ricci is a Vancouver based photographer and director. Born in 1981 in Italy, he discovered photography in his mid twenties and soon after moved to Australia where he started working professionally. After 2.5 years in Sydney he embarked on a year long exploration of Latin and North America driving all the way to Canada while shooting film documentaries for international NGOs. He now lives and works in Canada specializing in editorial portraiture and advertising.
APE contributor Suzanne Sease currently works as a consultant for photographers and illustrators around the world. She has been involved in the photography and illustration industry since the mid 80s, after founding the art buying department at The Martin Agency then working for Kaplan-Thaler, Capital One, Best Buy and numerous smaller agencies and companies. She has a new Twitter fed with helpful marketing information. Follow her@SuzanneSease.