Photography March 3, 2016
by Lauren Festa
It’s Photography Month at the ADC, and we’re so excited to bring you this ~very special~ conversation with photographer & art director duo Francisco De Deus & Caro Rebello. This creative couple concepts, creates and executes big ideas, using their combined skills of storytelling, prop building and art directing. In their project together entitled “Letter L” the couple explores an intersection of photography and graphic design, along with De Deus’ iconic prop building abilities. The photos you see in the galleries below include some of those images, with the “Letter L” being their latest, and includes their “Tears of Joy” portraits, featured in the latest issue of Lüerzer’s Archive 200 Best Photographers Worldwide. De Deus’ photography also gets the spotlight. Living in Brooklyn via Brazil, this couple is always up for a creative challenge. They work together and apart and we thought to ask them about a few L-letter words of our own, including life, love and lighting. Francisco and Caro are both proud members of the Art Directors Club.
Sr. Art Director, Ogilvy & Mather
Tell us a bit about yourselves. How did you get here?
Francisco: I am a conceptual photographer. Like most New Yorkers, I moved here for work, about three years ago. The prospect of working with the best creatives in the industry has always been a dream and inspiration for me. New York is the best place for this to happen.
Caro: I spent half my childhood drawing and the passion for illustration opened other doors in art, like craft, color, composition, light, materials, conceptual photography and more. I think this has played a huge role in moving me towards art direction and advertising. I started working as an art director in 2003 and only stopped in 2013 when I moved to New York for a sabbatical year, during which time I studied at SVA. In 2014, I was back in agencies, working as an art director at TBWA\Chiat\Day NY and since November 2015, I have been working at Ogilvy & Mather as a senior art director.
Tell us, Francisco, how you made the jump from Art Direction to Conceptual Photography. Do these roles have more in common than their differences?
I went to school for advertising and early in the game I became attracted to working with images. Photography became a passion, but so did creative work and art direction. After graduating and working as an art director, I chose to pursue photography. I use the art direction skills I learned every day in my photography work. I think the two are very much linked. However, in photography, my experimentation is more hands-on, whether when I am building props or composing a shot.
What’s the strangest question you’ve received when someone learned you are a photographer?
“Okay, but what do you do for work? Like, WORK, work?”
You build your own props?
Yes. I started building props as a way to test ideas for my shoots. This later became a feature of my work. I like incorporating props into my work because I feel they help us cross the barrier between the ‘real’ and the ‘make believe’.
Tell us some of the projects you guys have going on right now and a favorite project to date.
Caro: I’m working on a couple of projects at the same time, mostly developing brand campaigns. From the concept line to the execution in every form (print, digital, social and film). I have lots of heart for a campaign I worked on at Chiat last year, for a whiskey brand. It was amazing collaborative work with an amazing team. The campaign will launch later this year with a series of films and prints.
Francisco: One of the series I’m most proud of is “Understand Your Idols” for 91Rock Radio, on which Caro and I worked together. We researched the lives of Jimi Hendrix and Elvis Presley to find what objects would better reflect their life stories in a still-life set up. We pieced together a series that mixes the symbols of classic still life with elements of classic Rock ‘ n ‘ Roll. This was a project that opened a lot of doors for me and brought a great deal of visibility to my work.
“When I’m not shooting, I’m enjoying time off with my wife.”
Speaking of amazing work, Caro, what agencies or artists are making amazing work right now?
I’m a big fan of Serial Cut and Sagmeister & Walsh. They way they play with design, color, props, photography and textures and forms in a conceptual way. They both are huge inspirations for me.
And who in photography is impressing you right now Francisco?
I’m influenced by the work of Irving Penn and Martin Parr. I’m also very influenced by graphic design. Lately, I’ve been very interested in typography as it is the theme of The Letter L. Specifically, the work of Herb Lubalin was a great inspiration for this series.
What’s the best thing about working in this industry as creatives? And what is the most challenging?
Caro: The challenge for me is to keep up the good work. It’s such a competitive industry. It requires a lot of research, reading and fun to keep coming up with more innovative ideas. It’s really hard at times, but totally worth it. My favorite thing about being an art director, personally is seeing something you have sketched on paper coming to life in an image or a film. It’s the best feeling.
Francisco: I like the opportunity to collaborate with a different team on every project. There is always excitement in the beginning and a great feeling of accomplishment when we reach our goal. I love photography and advertising, and the prospect of a new project everyday is what drives me. This never-ending learning curve keeps my mind active and sharp, always in the search for creative solutions. I would say my biggest challenge is having discipline in being self-employed. You have to tell yourself to start working and more importantly, to stop working so you can recharge and “go to work” with fresh eyes every day. It is just amazing being able work with what you love.
Why is being an ADC Member a special thing and would you recommend it to other creatives?
Caro: Since started my career, I have always regarded ADC as a reference. ADC for me is always the home of good ideas. Being a member is the possibility to see all of this more closely. It’s an honor to be a part of this community and I definitely recommend other creatives to enroll too. The more different creative minds connected, the better.
Francisco: Exactly. Being a part of the ADC is a great opportunity to connect with other creative minds. I would recommend it to everyone interested in broadening their creative horizons.
Photography Month takes place throughout March, and is open exclusively to ADC Members. Not yet a Member? Join today!