Friday, September 17, 2010


Fashion Heroines is a big fan of Joao Carlos’ work since the earliest days of the blog but we hadn’t yet the opportunity to talk with the photographer - son of Portuguese emigrant parents - who has a so fresh look about his art.

The New York-based photographer, that won the 2009 Hasselblad Masters Award, shoots breathtaking images with a unique aesthetics that takes fashion photography to a fine art level. In fact he approaches his shoots from the perspective of a painter.

Joao Carlos’ photographs have the ability to tell us stories. Through them you get a real sense of people’s character and feelings, almost as if you are there in the narrative. It’s why his work is so alive and intense,
creating stunningly beautiful imagery for high-end fashion magazines. 

Fashion Heroines: Are you a photographer with a rock-star attitude?
Joao Carlos: No not so much a rock star attitude but rock-star style maybe, I have long hair, I LOVE my converse a cool T -shirt and my skinny jeans.

FH: You lived in Portugal and you studied in the Centro De Arte e Comunicação, in Lisbon. How did Portugal influence your work?

JC: I love shooting in Portugal, the country truly inspires me; the stunning landscapes, the amazing people and the glorious weather. I draw influences from the Baroque, Neo-classical and Romantic creatively. The History and culture are either seen or felt in big part in my work.

FH: When did photography become an obvious life-long passion for you?
JC: I have always been passionate about The Arts and my first artistic endeavour was the constant painting of this hallway in my parents’ home; it was a massive canvas to me. I must have drawn, scribbled and painted it two or three times and every time my father and mother would scold me and paint over my “ART” and then I would repeat the deed. The first Christmas present I ever asked for at the age of five was a camera. My sweet mom gave me this box-like toy camera and I kindly said thank you and gave it back to her, stating it didn’t have a flash and I wanted a real one! My dream in grade school was to be an automobile designer, then in Junior High I wanted to be a comic book illustrator and in High school I played the guitar (I was, and am still,terrible!) so my dream was to be a rockstar. Then collage came around and I wanted to be a painter: a ‘real’ Artist.  Then my idea was to live a bohemian life, but I am far too practical for that.  Halfway through my second year (after already having some solo and group shows) I was going to have my first big solo show at a local Municipal Museum and I needed to have my paintings photographed and a buddy of mine, a local family  portrait photographer, was going to charge me a small fortune to do it.  I was 19 and broke. So I did the only thing I could do, I sold my guitar (my Fender Stratocastor) and purchased my first camera. That is how it all got started; I immediately fell in love with the art form. I switched my major from Fine Arts with a minor in Art History to Photography.

FH: Who/what are your influences - art/film/literature/other photographers?

JC: I take inspiration from all types of sources. There are so many artists that inspire me, but sometimes it may just be a single image. If I have to name some I guess this would be the list: Meisel, Klein, Roversi, Solve Sundsbo, Mario Testino, Lebowitz, Weber, Ritts, Demarchelier, Avedon, Newton, Adams, Sebastiao Salgado, and it goes on and on. My biggest influences are from Cinema such as Kubrick, Godard, David Lynch, Hitchcock, Roger Deakins, Janusz Kaminski, Christopher Doyle and the Great Painting Masters such as Caravaggio, Sorrola, Gustave Courbet or Vermer, just to name a few…but the list is almost endless.

FH: What attracts you to the fashion photography?
JC: Working along side other creatives to create inspirational works of art and the freedom to create whatever I want creatively is the biggest turn on for me.

FH: What do you most like to shoot?
JC: People in general, either in my fashion stories or in my personal projects, which at the moment have a more Documentary \Portrait essence. What’s the most inspiring thing you've ever seen? My travel inspires me, people inspire, landscape can be inspiring, I can't just say one specific thing.

FH: What are some of your favorite works of art?
JC: That list is impossible, we would not have enough time or space. I have favorite works at different times, It all depends on my mood.

FH: What are you trying to communicate through your work?
JC: I like to tell stories through photographs, to reveal the people, their attitudes and their emotions. This is what makes photography something that is alive and intense.

FH: Do you think digital photography has made it too easy for photographers?
Well I have mixed feeling about this question , post production has a bigger factor in my work for example before I would pride myself on completing the image in camera…being true to the film or polaroid. But now, my work has evolved and I have the capabilities to create different things because of those developments. I also think that on the flip side anyone can pic up a camera and call themselves a photographer , just because you own a hammer and nails that doesn't make you a Carpenter , the same applies to owning a digital camera and playing with photoshop.

FH: If you could make a photoshoot for anyone, living or dead, who would it be and what would you do with it?
JC: That's a tough question...there are so many faces! Pablo Picasso , Salvador Dali, Jack Nickolson , James Dean, U2 ,Johnny Depp, Jane Fonda , Elvis Presly, Hitchcock ,Neil Armstrong ,Barack Obama , The Queen of England ,Lady Gaga,...I could go on and on and on with this list .

FH: What words of advice would you have for people who want to be visual artists?
Be true to yourself, be true to your vision and have patience in your art form and your growth.

FH: What’s the most important thing for an artist to remember?
JC: Patience and perseverance is needed to continue with any art and practice makes perfect. Well, at least practice make you discover that you need to practice more….

FH: What equipment do you use?
JC: This is all that I work with when I keep it simple, sometimes I have more but this is the standard . Hasselblad H4D 80mm f/ 2.8, 28mm f/2.8 ( my mane camera ); Minolta Flashmeter IV Light meter;  Broncolor Mobil Pack Mobilite 2;  light stands, five in one reflector & Scim Jims with multiple cloths by Westcott; Spider Lights TD5 & TD3 by Westcott x3; and Pelican Case 1510.

FH: What do you like about what you use?

JC: They are the best tools on the market; they don’t make my images better for using them, but they do make my life easier.

FH: What means to you win the 2009 Hasselblad Masters Award?
JC: Hasselblad as one of the finest brands in photography and the Masters have always been extraordinary photographers. “It’s a great honor to be a part of this group.”

FH: What is the underlying theme to your most recent project and what inspired it?
JC: My most recent project ( that I can talk about ) would have to be the images for the Hasselblad Masters Book , the theme given to me was "Emotion" In these works, I pair the literature of love tragedies through the ages with the techniques of fashion photography. These images have a composition and balance inspired by the masters of painting, and echoes their work also in that these stories are the subjects that the great painters would have taken on. Centuries-old castles and palaces in Portugal create a fairy tale setting for the characters to play out their doomed love. “The location is crucial. The lighting, the emotion of the models, the interactions between the couples—it all has to work in harmony—but it is the set that creates the mood and creates another dimension of emotion.” the images will be avaible in the Hasselblad Masters Book that will be launched in couple off weeks at Photokina .

What’s next?

Well, this week I am in Whales shooting for a new UK Concept Store called "The House of Deads", the following week I will be in Cologne Germany for the launch of the Hasselblad Masters  Book and gallery show at the Vision Gallery.  I have also been invited to teach a Master Class for Hasselblad .  I am super honored and excited!

I then proceed to Portugal to speak at the Pecha Kucha Night Lisbon  on October 2nd, and will also be speaking and lecturing at this years PhotoExpo Plus in New York City . In December I will be showing a new series of work at Art Basel Miami. That's pretty much what I have planned for the next couple of months , apart from this, I am always open in to working with New brands, Magazines and Designers and I am trying to establish myself on the international scenes, but would still greatly enjoy working with some Portuguese Magazines, Designers and advertising agencies.


2009 Hasselblad Masters Award 
2005 VII Bienal de Fotografia da Moita. ( “ VII Photography Biannual Award of Moita” ) Honerable Mention , Moita, Portugal.
2003 VI Bienal de Fotografia da Moita. ( “ VII Photography Biannual Award of Moita” ) Honerable Mention , Moita, Portugal.
2001 XI Bienal Internacional de Arte de Vila Nova de Cerveira. Portugal

Group Exhibition
2010- Art Basel Miami, Daniel Azoulay Gallery, Miami, FL
2010 “Hasselblad Masters” Visual Gallery at photokina
“Hasselblad Masters” vaults at Kunstkasteel (Art Castle) Woerden, Kasteel , Woerden-Centrum, The Netherlands. (Sept 04-Dec 5)
2010 Jadite Gallery NYC - Made In Cuba
Group Show: Hasselblad 2009 Masters The Demask Gallery
Copenhagen, Denmark
Masters forum in Hong Kong 2009
2009 Masters Show Milk gallery NYC


Photographer-Visual Artist

Hasselblad Master 2009
New York- 203 -550-6099
Skype: joaocarlosmilkman

New web site :


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  1. I can't wait to see his work at Art Basel this year! If anybody is still looking for places to stay for Art Basel, check out!

  2. Adorei a entrevista Paula! E as fotografias dele deixam-me sem palavras. q mestre!

    Um beijinho!