Whether you’re a seasoned or fairly new reader of 425, it’s highly likely you’ve seen the work of photographer Rodrigo DeMedeiros spanning the pages of our fashion, features, and food sections. A contagiously charismatic and passionate creative, he’s traveled the world — touching down on every continent except Antarctica — capturing slivers of people’s lives for client lists that include Starbucks; Microsoft; T-Mobile; and countless designers, agencies, and magazines. The Fall City resident moved to the Pacific Northwest from his home country of Brazil in 1993 and has been a 425 contributor since 2007.
In this day and age, anyone can think they are a photographer, but we picked DeMedeiros’ brain on how to become an artist.
You were born in Brazil, and I’m sure that heritage influences your work. How does it manifest in your photography?
Brazil has gone through so many transformations over the centuries. From colony to kingdom, to empire, to republic, to dictatorship, and finally democracy. So, Brazilians are really adaptable, willing to pivot, and that makes them ready to go with the flow and improvise. My photography superpower is definitely this ability to be comfortable with ambiguity.
Also, why photography? How did you gravitate toward this medium, and why do you find it so invigorating?
At university, I was given opportunities to try all kinds of media: drawing, painting, film, radio, finally landing on photography. It always fascinated me, the idea of freezing a moment in time, making it eternal. The exhilaration of seeing an image come to life is indescribable. As a medium, photography allowed me just enough freedom to be creative without frustrations. My graduation project, in fact, was in photography. I asked 45 random people to pose for a portrait that best defined their persona. I called it “the cage of desires.” All shot in black and white, high-speed negative film, grainy, gritty, and really candid. I developed and processed everything and got to do a gallery show.
The end result of a photo can either look very flat and emotionless, or it can be filled with life. How do you achieve that with the people you’ve photographed?
I feel a genuine connection with people. Posing can make people feel very vulnerable, so I always try to make them relax. It’s a two-way street, always. My goal is to make them look great, so I can produce images we all can be proud of. It’s also a combination of things that happen all at once in my brain, in a millisecond: framing, lighting, angle, color values, shape, composition, and that twinkle in the eye of the subject. If you can capture that, you’re golden. There is always something to be learned, so I also seek inspiration in the works of my favorite photographers — Richard Avedon, Herb Ritts, Helmut Newton, Mert Alas, and Marcus Piggott.
Let’s talk about fashion for a minute. You’ve been shooting fashion for more than a decade. What’s intriguing and challenging about shooting it?
I love all the elements that need to come together for it to happen. Taking the pictures is just one aspect of it, after all the careful planning has been done. It’s exciting to watch trends, then come up with a concept to tie it all together, and choose designer pieces, the right models, scenarios, etc. And although that can be challenging, by the time we get to actual shooting, everyone is prepared to make it shine.
If you were to style an outfit that represented you as a person, what would it be?
Something Tom Ford would create: sexy, dark, and elegant. An impeccably tailored suit jacket, a well-fitted and high-quality graphic T-shirt, a vintage pair of jeans, and some killer leather shoes.
Best location for shooting: In nature, with some lavish landscape and gorgeous natural light.
Favorite lens: My good old analog Nikkor 50mm f/1.8 Lens for some gorgeous depth of field shots.
Equipment must-have: My Canon body, a Canon 28-70mm, and that amazing 50mm lens in my pocket.
Can’t live without: Auto focus, and my glasses for manual focus — so all bases are covered!