Hear It!

Meet Rui Dias-Aidos a.k.a redav – Self-driven and instinctive photographer with a penchant for macro shoots, still life, product and people. His never-say-never attitude is infectious! Read his candid comments about facing challenges head-on in the creative field and how focus is the key in arriving to that perfect picture…

Photographer: redav / Rui Dias-Aidos
Country of Origin: United States

1. Production Equipment: Please list the production equipment that you use on a regular basis (eg. Cameras, lenses, flash & lighting, photo editing software).
Canon 5D MkII, Canon 30D, EF 17-40mm f/4L USM, EF 24-70mm f/2.8L USM and EF 70-300mm f/4-5.6 IS USM. 4 wireless studio flash heads for a total of 2,700 Watts. Ring flash. 7 ft octagonal softbox and a variety of strip and rectangular soft boxes. 6 PAR cans for gel effects and 4 continuous 1,200w HMI heads originally for video but can be combined with flashes since they are also 5,300-5,500 K. A home-made extra-large product tent that has become the secret of good still life and product photography.

2. What do you think of photography these days?
Same as I thought years ago. The media has changed and our profession became more practical - no Polaroid testing, our hands are cleaner since we don't develop anymore, one big card is like a big roll of film without the weight and space, remote lighting control - but basics like the subject, composition, color management, lighting and exposure, planning, creativity and alertness to capture an instant remains the same. Like computing became the tool for graphics, digital is the way for years to come.

3. What did you want to be when you were younger?
What wouldn't you like to be when you are young! My mind never stopped walking paths of adventure, expertise, knowledge and social acceptance. I might not want to become a policeman or firefighter; but more of a scientist, sociologist, screenwriter, motion picture person and explorer.

4. Tell us about the time when you first got started in photography.
It was an accident turned into opportunity. I was an art college student in need of a part-time income in London. I met with David Duncan, an advertising photographer working for McCann Erickson with a studio in Howland Street. He offered me a position as his assistant. We became good friends and gradually became my mentor. I was later hired by the agency as a designer and grew to be an Art Director. I kept shooting for years as a hobby. Photography resumed as an income generator and passion 7 years ago.

5. In your opinion, what does it take to become successful in this industry?
Of course you’ve got to be GOOD at what you do. Photography begins in your brain by noticing, observing and falling in love with your vision of the subjects. Once you click and develop, you can share the way you see things with others. Creativity breaks rules and standards to convey a message or feeling that nourishes the viewer. It's also in the way you relate with your customers and talent. Tolerance and patience combined with perseverance and focus get things done. Your vision becomes theirs and the end result pays for itself.

6. What was your biggest challenge coming into this industry?
None. I don't believe in difficulties. Behind every big challenge is a bigger check.

7. What are the best perks as a Photographer?
Well, there's traveling… and enjoying material things you could not otherwise afford. But best of all, it is the building of relations out of trust and appreciation.

8. How do you plan for your shooting sessions?
Like in advertising, you find out to whom you are talking to and what message you want to convey. A good briefing coupled with the right questions often does clarify the message further. Some assignments require design and fabrication that you would need to complete in advance. Don't forget the timeline also! Chariots never go before the horses.

9. How would you describe your work to first time viewers?
Very simple, I mean the work, not the description. My work is meant to be used together with other elements like copy and logos. So, it needs to speak for itself and provide room for other elements that the end user will be adding.

10. Do you shoot to what your heart tells you or do you go through a complex check list in your mind when you produce your work? Describe the feeling/check list.
Both. The idea brews in your mind and flourishes from that vision into a plan where the weather forecast, the season, the props, the talent, your grip people, equipment and all kinds of permits need to be there by the time you are going to press the button and freeze the moment.

11. From your experience, what subjects gives you the greatest satisfaction? Any examples?
Working with people. Even if the task entails having someone cry for the camera, I love hearing that everyone who were involved had a great time.

12. From your experience, what subjects are the hardest to work with? Any examples?
Low-light situations at sunrise and dusk. The window of opportunity is narrow. There's no such thing like a well-lit storm or a clear view – sometimes you just have to rush home and get the equipment before it gets too dark! Human perception of that moment is what you need to paint. The brain does a wonderful work of interpretation no camera can match unless at that precise moment when the compromise between a shadow and a source of color or light just occurs.

13. What is your philosophy when it comes to your work?
All of the above and the end result above all.

14. Describe who/what inspires you, tell us why?
Almost everything triggers a thought you can express as an image.

15. What do you do when those creative juices just seems to evade you. How do you "get creative"?
I never felt that happen. Being creative is breaking the standards, otherwise there would not be creativity and everything would be standard. Find the standard and break it knowingly. Learn the rules so you can bend them with grace.

16. Tell us about a time when inspiration just hits you, and you felt the insatiable urge to create. What did you do with that energy?
That is ongoing all the time. Which is why my schedule is opposite to that of a bank. I might be about to fall asleep and *wham* it hits you. Like nature, creativity calls and you have to go (Editor: Errr... yeah, we get it!).

17. What have you discovered about yourself through photography?
That I'm stubbornly persistent and result-oriented.

18. Whose work do you admire the most? Why?
Richard Warren, excellent low-light lighting. Peter Langone, excellent theatrical lighting. Yanick Dery, great talent direction. Michel Tchereckoff, best product photography. Austin Young for his concepts. Scarpati, great photo-compositing.

19. Do you have any advice for those who are just getting in to stock photography?
Be on the other side as a buyer that needs images for their layouts. Not YOUR images, but images that help them support the spoken or written word. The moment you stop thinking that a buyer HAS to like your stuff, you're going to be fine. Look at what they do with them and you'll get it.

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