Andreas: Who is Camo? Tell us a bit about yourself!
Camo: Some people call me Camo, the way I shoot and produce the images are “Camografias” or “Camografiar”: Camography, my real name is Camilo. I was born 27 years ago in the new world in a Colombian coastal city called Cartagena De Indias. Now, I live and work in Bogotá where I’m focused on being a “Youth-Cultured and Freestyle Photography and Visual Artist”
How did you get introduced to photography? Are you self taught or did you go to school to study photography?
Since I was a kiddo I used to go to my father’s office in a small radio station in Cartagena to see my father’s collection of slides from the most interesting places in the World. Then when I grew up I decided to study filmmaking in Bogota where I started to direct photography of indie short films that I used to create in a very perky and lively version of our popular reality, but those short films always were rejected and never weren’t chosen to be produced.
I portrayed all my trip experiences in the Caribbean coast of Colombia and the people who I met in the road with a small FUJI INSTAX camera. Later on those romantic and everyday experiences full of spontaneity mixed up with the concept of beauty of fashion inspired by some books of famous photographers that I used to see on the Bogota libraries always considering them as artists and their work in “mainstream” fashion magazines in the world, I asked myself “Why in Colombia don’t exist these kind of characters (photographers) ?” So I decided to be the first.
What inspires you?
I think that my previous answer, answers what is my deepest inspiration, but being more emphatic I get inspired by the beauty of the human gestures, the naturality, spontaneous beauty, freedom and the freedom of style, provocation, sex, my friends, my lovers, “The Pixies”, “The Smiths”, the trashy culture, ordinary, tackiness, evilness, innocence, dispersion and dedication, Niel Cassidy in “On the Road”, Teller, Tillmans, Goldin and in this moment McGinley, Bogotá, Stones Roses”, “early Smashing Pumpkins”, the obviously strong, gunpowder, fashion ateliers and underwear.
What equipment do you use to create your photos? Do you have any favorite lenses?
Now, I work with a CANON REBEL XT1 camera, because my previous one, the 30D, was stolen. I’m thinking about buying a 7D or a 5D MARK II for the video thing, don’t forget I’m a filmmaker too.
In the analog field I’m working with a compact FUJI and a PENTAX K-1000 camera (the first one I learn to use when I was 17). I really like the lenses that don’t imply me to keep away from the person that I’m portraying.
Do you have a favorite photo and If so, why is it your favorite?
A photo made by someone else? It’s kind of hard; I really have two from the same photographer that curiously is not anyone that I mentioned before. It’s the picture of David Byrne watering with a garden hose in his L.A. house and the one of Nick Cave with a stripper, both from Anton Corbijn. I was shocked when I saw them for the first time.
If it’s about one of my “Camografias” (Camographies) is pretty easy, I have a picture titled “Catalina La Primera” (Catalina the First). It’s my favorite because I found her in a bus road to my college, next day I was portraying her in my room and her boyfriend was waiting outside in the living room with his guitar. I felt like I was taking a picture of Courtney Love and Kurt Cobain was waiting outside, she just was the first girl I asked if I could take her picture. Also, I discovered my ideal of beauty: natural, easy going, not so produced and that I wasn’t into girls.
How many people usually make up your team on shoots?
At the beginning of my career I just worked with the model (usually they were my friends) and my sister helped me out to do the make up for them while we were experimenting, it’s something that is permanent in my job and it will be there in the coming years, but now I really enjoy to work in more structured teams in a professional way.
I use to work with my own makeup artist called Vivianne Saler and hairstyle is done by a guy from the United States, my friend Ace. I use to produce my own photo shoots, I search the location, if I don’t work in my atelier/studio, I get the clothes from my favorite young designers (and friends) and some famous names in fashion. In recent time I’ve met a boy who is in charge of production and styling, so I’m going to prove him and keep away from the production to be focused only in the photography. It’s something healthy.
What has been your most memorable photo shoot, and why?
It was a fashion shoot, it was a picture for a contest in a popular fashion magazine in Colombia, I did it with a great pal, also photographer: Alberto Newton; what a Karma with that surname (It’s his real name) but anyway we work pretty good together. I wanted the picture to have that David Lynch look seen in movies like “Lost Highway” or “Mulholland Drive” something dusty, spot lighted, sophisticated and pretreated.
With this on our minds we went on a night road trip across Bogota to a viewpoint, the background was a beautiful mix of the city lights of Bogota and some illegal fireworks that we bought in midtown, the model was dressed up by Olga Piedrahita the best and most recognized fashion designer in Colombia, holding almost frozen a stuff deer in one hand and a bottle of Veuve Clicquot in the other hand, she was lighted by the lights of the van that we use to arrive to the viewpoint, we even had a horse near to us, but the horse left the set.
Anyway, we didn’t win the contest or get a mention; maybe we didn’t win because of the stuffed deer or the illegal fireworks, it would be better to wear a genuine fur coat to get the price.
Your shots often have great styling and lighting. Do you have any secret technique?
I like to mix natural light of a sunny day that came through a small hole of my small atelier with the raw light of a frontal flash.
Where do you see yourself in 10 years?
In 10 years! “I’d rather being skinny tan famous!” No way, I’m not dreaming with a huge wedding, but as many photographers I would like to be the director for a cult magazine. Also, I dream with a rug with my name printed on it.
What tips do you have for aspiring fashion photographers?
It comes to my mind a chorus of a beautiful song from the “Smashing Pumpkins”: “I used to be a little boy so old in my shoes” so I want to say to the younger photographers that they should follow their innocence and put it in each picture in 10 or 50 years of career, innocence is the key that helps the experimentation and curiosity in life and photography, and if you add some instinct and persistence you can see what photography really is, the fact of moving on in extreme situations. It’s finding in the picture and in what you make something superficial, and at the same time something indescribable deep. Guys you should anticipate esthetic changes.
What is your workflow like on a shoot day?
Well I take the picture alone or with my work crew and I try to sell them to the magazines.
What websites do you visit on a daily basis?
Have you gotten any assignments through Flickr?
Yes, for BUTT magazine’s blog, for CARTEL URBANO (Colombia) and many indie magazines across the world like VANGARDIST (Austria) and STIMULUS RESPOND (United Kingdom). You know? I work more often in foreign magazines than in magazines of my country. Sad, but true.
Which are your three favorite movies?
They are not in a specific order, but I know which are: “Paris, Texas” (Wim Wenders), “Gummo” (Harmony Corinne) and “Bufallo 66” by Vincent Gallo. I once met Vincent Gallo suddenly in a bathroom of a Bogota bar.
If you could choose anywhere in the world, where would you wish to wake up tomorrow?
Where can people find you on the web?
Right now only on my FLICKR page: http://www.flickr.com/camography, but my portfolio is on ISSUU. I have an official website but in this moment it’s not working, so I have to get some free time to rebuild it and put it online again.