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Full Version: alex cao and elinor carucci....
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... have nothing to do with each other, except that I meet them both last week.

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Alex Cao (http://www.alexcao.com/flash.html) is a professional, commercial photographer. he does a lot of fashion photography for magazines like vogue but also makes advertisements etc.
I don't know whether he said how old he is, he looks young. went to school in New York, studying business and something like accounting or the like, and photographed.
After he graduated, I think he mostly earned money as a photo assistant, and developed his own photography skills mostly being a member of the Camara Club New York.
According to an anecdote he told us, someone once told him "you never see a still life photographer starve" at which point he decided to go into still life photography and that's what he still does today (for advertisements).
He has a huge studio in downtown manhattan, with his own gallery in the same building, a digital retouching room with two employees, a number of printers of all formats, and two photo assistants.

personally, I thoght his work was interesting, and I think some of it is certainly really good. However, I have no sympathy for his approach. Certainly there is an element of overstatement in it, when he says he decided to be a still life photographer the day someone told him you could make a living of it.
But it somewhat appropriately seems to represent his attitute. He talked a lot about how he did and does his research for jobs: How he did statistics of how many pages in magazins are fashion photography, how many are still lives, how many are whatsoever, to find out where the most money can be made.
How he keeps record on his computer of all important magazins' art directors, editors, and all their assistants, so he can send them birthday and christmas cards, in order to remind them of his presence.
How he puts pictures up in his gallery that he think have good resale value (personally, I thought they were incredibly tacky, a room full of wide angle landscape, I thought it had a touch of cheap asian postcard photography...).

So, yes, his work is good in a way that he enjoys making money off it, he is technically very skilled, he works hard and doesn't shy away from figuring out tedious techniques. Still, I could never imagin seeing photography so merely as a tool to make money.

Two days later, I went to a presentation by elinor carucci (http://www.elinorcarucci.com/) of her work. she is a fine artist from israel, who has lived in New York for some 13 years or so, has won a number of awards for her photography and been given the guggenheim fellowship.

She startet taking pictures of her mother when she was 15, using her father's camara, and has since not stopped, photographing her family. All her work is done with a 35mm nikon, and pretty simple lightning as far as I understand (1 or 2 strobes and sometimes tungston lamps and mirrors). the lightning is actually very special.

since she has been living away from her family, she has been forced to find other subjects, but I don't think ever got comfortable shooting other people. So most of her pictures still show herself, her husband, her 18 months old twins.
She talked a lot about how her family got used to seeing her camara and tripod almost as part of her, how e. g. her grandmother was insulted when she stopped photographing her, as she got very sick.
Seeing her work and having her talk about it was like a very intimate meeting with someone, and even with her family. Remarkably, she found that ususally the shots she "poses" in reveal more about herself than incidental or snap shots, and seeing her pictures, you would not guess that anyone posed in them at all.

These days, Elinor also does editorial work and campaigns, one of them was big in London, I think it was for Selfridges. For that campaign, she blew her 35mm pictures up to mural sizes, I thought that was pretty amazing.

all in all, I personally felt closer to Elinor and the way she talked about her work, and meeting her was just an amazing feeling.
But I am not trying to compare the two people in any way.
Just wanted to share my experience with you.

Very interesting... thanks for sharing!

I think Alex definitely has a businessman approach to photography - from what you say, his photos may not be crash hot, but he does his networking well and follows up his contacts, and does his market research well. You've really summed up his attitude well - he's out to make money through photography, and probably has an entrepreneurial spirit.

Elinor sounds more like a genuine artist that stays true to herself and her art. She's been recognised somewhere along the line for her work and has built upon that success...
There was an english character actor who once, on a tv chat show, put his bare feet together, soles touching and wiggled his toes to music.
Two weeks ago I was contemplating a photo of my feet, in similar pose.
It seems Alex Cao has had the same idea. Most strange.
Very interesting reading. Elinore's site is intriguing

thanks for sharing,

some really great work from alex, lost of studio work and use of the beauty dish.

yes the site of elenore is a bit confusing. I like the straight forward websites for portfolios. her photographs i just found then very moving and a bit voyeurisitic.

thanks againg