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Pino Gomes' stylish snapshots
Publication Date : 16-11-2012
The grate of a burr grinder at Artisan Roast, a cosy coffee place in Taman Tun Dr Ismail, Kuala Lumpur, was to become the orchestrated backdrop for photographer Pino Gomes.
The 38-year-old Brazilian was in Kuala Lumpur recently on assignment for the Smart Luxury Moments campaign by timepiece brand Gc. The international shutterbug and father of one, whose work is currently on exhibition in nine countries, has an air of eagerness about him, like a child brimming with anticipation.
Sure enough, a request to view his portfolio sees him opening his iPad with lightning swiftness; the rich, nutty aroma of coffee mixing with the surreal visions of his mind’s eye, brought to reality with a mere flick of his trigger finger. Among the pictures in his portfolio were of Gwen Lu, a top Malaysian model now based in New York.
Where Gomez is concerned, fashion is everywhere and in everything. He takes Lu as an example. Having worked in New York, Paris, Milan, Spain, Greece, Tokyo, Hong Kong and Singapore, Lu has allowed the experience gained from her travels to spur her interest in photography. With just plastic cameras and a 35mm SLR, she has documented plenty of extraordinary sights which Gomes is sure will serve as inspiration for her future projects.
In New York, where he had set up base, Gomes admits that people can be pretentious. But he reckons that at the end of the day, anyone can be nice or mean, depending on the situation.
“You will find unpleasant people everywhere you go, but I try to keep focused and don’t give space to dysfunctional people. My friend, Frances Hathaway, a make-up artist, told me once that the key ingredient to succeed in New York is a kind of innocence, the type that will deliver pure work that will shine regardless of the odds,” he muses.
For all those aspiring to be in the fashion industry, Gomes points out that one does not necessarily have to go to the Big Apple.
“You can be big wherever you are, if you are authentic, hardworking and talented. "New York" could be anywhere, even in your backyard if you want. Here (New York) is just a place with a bigger window for the world ... and filled with more competition, too,” says Gomes.
To deal with the competition, he has begun working with Deirdre Sullivan of JUMP Management in New York to expand his clientele spectrum, expertise and portfolio. Interestingly, Sullivan was responsible for getting manicurist Myrdith Leon McCormack to work with magazines such as Elle, Italian Vogue and Harper’s Bazaar. Today, McCormack has a book and is founder of her own nail colour line, M2M.
It helps a great deal if you also love your work. Earlier, over lunch, Gomes had asked some of his companions (whichever country he goes to, he has a coterie of minders who inadvertently become like family at the end of every assignment) if they truly liked what they did. Most answered that they were in it for the money.
“To be stuck in a job you hate, I think, is the most wasteful thing in life.”
The jovial and exuberant Gomes, who lists popcorn and massages in his “like department”, began his career at the age of 18, starting as a photographer’s assistant. He then went on to taking head shots for actors and dancers, as well as fashion pictures for aspiring models.
A former theatre actor and make-up artist, Gomes landed the Gc watch project when Cindy Livingstone, the brand’s CEO, came to sit for her own portraits at his studio in Zurich, Switzerland, in 2010. She then discovered just how intimately he could capture his subjects in his photographs.
The conclusion of that sitting now sees Gomes travelling to snap pictures of personalities from different countries. The imagery collected will be used for art exhibitions and international advertorials, and they make up the contents for a book.
Unlike fashion shoots of yesteryear, Gomes’ work is like a breath of fresh air in contrast to the “posey” shots of the past era.
“Most of the personalities admit they have never seen this side of themselves before. In the end, the secret lies in being able to capture people who do what they love and their expressions when they are doing it,” he says.
He adds that the ability to capture good photographs lies not only in technical know-how, but in putting the subject at ease, like placing an animal in the most comfortable setting.
Gomes also addresses the “shake” technique which has helped to give his images an ethereal effect.
“I discovered this by accident during a fashion shoot for Vogue Brazil in 2010. I was getting bored after doing a series of perfect images and thought of experimenting with the camera. The images were very well-received so I started to apply it more and more,” says Gomes.
For those eager to try it out, Gomes’ rule of thumb is to have plenty of light and use a low speed. But as every shot will take place in a different environment, it all boils down to experiment.
“Fashion, art and beauty are exciting things to think about but hard to work with. Everyone has a gift in life and, despite the difficulties, you will find realisation if you are loyal to the heart. I am still learning how to deal with the business part of the business,” concludes Gomes.