Eduardo Acierno is an international professional photographer based in Veracruz, Mexico whose love for people, fashion and photography guides his life.
At only 19 years old, Eduardo has already done a tremendous amount with his career as a photographer. Eduardo’s work has been featured in countless blogs and magazines all around the world — such as Vogue.it, LUCY’s Magazine, Young World Photography and many many more! He has also worked for clients such as GQ Mexico, Swarovski, Archangel Images, Tous, Liverpool and Mexico. Eduardo was asked to speak at Captured: Encuentro de Fotografía at the Tecnológico de Monterrey in March of 2014, as well as this he held a talk at the Universidad Cristobal Colón in Veracruz, México about “Inspiration and Happines: Starting from Zero” in April of 2014.
Please join us for this awesome interview with fashion/portrait photographer Eduardo Acierno. We talk about many things including Acierno’s editing and creative process, the early stages of his career and his 365 days photo project, his plans for the future, as well as workshops he’s held in the past and an upcoming workshop in the near future. This is seriously an interview you won’t want to miss!
Hey Eduardo, thanks so much for joining us for an interview with Phlearn.com 🙂
Tell us, how did you become interested in photography?
I was lucky enough to move to Newfoundland, Labrador when I was 14 . It was a surreal experience and I had the itch of capturing everything around me. I had this weird idea that if I captured those moments they’d somehow last longer, after a while, taking one photo per day became a habit and I just loved the idea of capturing a moment and keeping it forever
Did you participate in creating any other mediums of art before finding photography?
I used to paint a lot, my friends would get soccer balls as birthday presents while I’d be getting coloring books, brushes and scented markers haha
Do you have any formal training in photographer or are you self-taught?
I am completely self taught
If you are self-taught, what methods of learning did you find the most productive and/or useful to you? (Reading, Youtube Videos, etc)
Photography isn’t really common in my city, people aren’t artsy and it’s kind of hard to find inspiration or resources around here, so I could basically say that it was all a matter of trial and error, some youtube tutorials and constant communication with my Flickr friends who were also getting started like me. It was a great experience because me and my work developed at the same time as many well known photographers did, so we always had each other to talk about techniques, editing, and any other photography-related problems
What inspires you?
I’m constantly inspired by my surroundings. I love living in the coast; it allows me to travel to the prettiest locations, watch the most surreal sunsets and sunrises. My flickr friends are also a constant inspiration, I love talking to them about our achievements and adventures
In 2009 you began a 365 Days Project where you take a self portrait every day for a year. How would you say completing this project has affected the development of your photography?
My 365 completely changed me, I wouldn’t be where I am today without that project. It started out as a way of documenting my life around me, finding my way around my gear (I started taking photos with a crappy point and shoot and some make shift tripods made of branches or old books). I didn’t have enough money to buy fancy equipment, so it was basically a personal test of overcoming those obstacles and finding my way around editing techniques, posing, lightning, etc. After finishing that project I realized that I worked better behind the camera and decided to go towards fashion photography… (already knowing my ways around my gear from a whole year of experimenting)
What’s currently on your gear list? (cameras, lenses, editing software)
Canon EOS 5D Mk II , 35mm 1.4 and 50mm 1.4 and I occasionally use a Canon 430ex ii speedlite
Reading your Flickr SpotLight Interview, it was a huge surprise to see one of your first cameras was a Sony Cybershot DSC S930 point and shoot. How long did you create images using this camera?
And can you talk about the importance that you feel lies or doesn’t lie on gear?
I’m a firm believer that having a fancy camera won’t make you a better photographer, my whole 365 project was taken with that camera, after finishing the project, I traveled to New York and bought my first DSLR. To be honest, the only reason why I upgraded to a mark ii was because of its FULL FRAME sensor, it made my life so much easier and it was all a matter of comfort and making my work flow faster, since I started doing a lot of client work and my editing time had to be shorter
*photos taken with a Sony Cybershot DSC S930 point and shoot
How important is Post-Processing to your works?
Post processing is really important when it comes to fashion photography, its not about liquifying the hell out of a model and making her face look like shinny plastic you know? I basically just see my editing process as “getting rid of the things that are not supposed to be in the photo and touching up whatever needs a little hand”. I try to make my photos look as natural as possible, however, sometimes you need to spend A LOT of time working on a photo to make it look the way you want it to.
Some basic color correcting using Curves only (above and below)
In the early stages of your photography career you edited your works with GIMP. From someone who has never used GIMP, can you talk about your experience using it and your decision to switch to Creative Cloud Adobe Photoshop?
To be honest I still use GIMP haha , my editing process is SO basic, you’d be surprised if I told you 99% of my work is mainly done with CURVES, that’s mostly the reason why I love GIMP, its completely free and easy to use.
When I was getting started, I didn’t even have money to buy a tripod or any gear, photoshop was out of my limits and I didn’t have the hacker skills to get it online… So I started using GIMP and now that I DO have photoshop I’ve realized how similar they are, however, I must say that my workflow is way faster using Gimp (sorry Photoshop users haha)
In 2012 and 2014 you hosted a photography workshop. I wanna know, what do you enjoy most about teaching workshops?
I love inspiring young artists, its quite surreal because a lot of the people who attend my workshops are either my age or older than me, so it’s a great feeling when you know that a lot of different people look up to you and your work. I love teaching my editing and shooting techniques. I wish I could’ve gotten the help from someone when I was getting started! So my workshops are basically me letting my 14 year old self know that IT IS POSSIBLE to make it in this business and that some factors such as your gear, location or editing software shouldn’t get in your way to success
And are there any workshops coming up in the future?
YES! I’ve been lucky enough to travel around the country to speak in different Universities about my photography journey, getting started in the business and making it through once you’re in there. I will be hosting a fashion photography workshop in collaboration with a talented fashion photographer from Monterrey called Jesy Almaguer, I got to meet her at the beginning of the year when I got invited to Monterrey to give a conference and teach a fashion photography workshop there
The workshop is on October 25th and 26th
When planning a shoot, what is your creative process like?
Do you find yourself sketching or writing ideas before a shoot? Location scouting? Finding Models/MUA/etc.. Describe the average shoot.
To me, planning a shoot is one of the most important things when it comes to creating a fashion story. First of all, I have to find a concept or idea, make a mood board from random photos around the internet and then get a team of creatives who can help me achieve the final product (models, make up artists, stylists, set designers, etc)
It’s all a matter of reaching out to people, sending emails and hoping for the best
*example of mood board
*VS final photo from shoot
Who are some of your favourite artists and/or photographers?
Sofia Coppola is one of my biggest inspirations, I love the way she captures beauty and elegance with warm light and pastel colors, also Merth and Marcus, Tim Burton, and Petra Collins have inspired me through my artistic journey
In your photography do you utilize mostly natural light, artificial light, or both? (why)
I mostly shoot with natural light, I love the way it creates patterns and mood in my photos, its also easier to manipulate when it comes to color correcting, the main reason why I haven’t experimented with artificial light is because I’m 100% self taught and I’ve never had access to studio equipment or the knowledge on how to use it, but I’m slowly getting into buying my own studio kit and experimenting with it
What is your proudest moment as a photographer?
I’ve been lucky enough to have a few “proud moments” in my so far “artistic career”. When I was 15 I got recognized from my Flickr in the middle of Times Square in NEW YORK CITY! I honestly felt like a celebrity haha
Also, getting an email from Vogue Mexico’s editor in chief was the highlight of my day, week, month, year.. so yeah basically that haha
What are you currently working on?
I’ve been doing a lot of campaigns for local stores, some fashion work for Tous México, and I’m currently planning a few fashion stories for the month of October
Any big plans for the future?
Finally moving to new York city, I got to live there this summer doing what I love the most and I knew I was meant to do that. I want to inspire young aspiring photographers and travel around the world doing what I love the most
What is the best advice that you’ve ever received about photography, art, or life in general?
The best advice I’ve ever received was “Don’t be afraid of REJECTION” which is pretty common in this business, I mean, you honestly have nothing to lose, I must say getting my first editorial rejected was kind of hard, but after a while you just realize that you have NOTHING to lose and you might as well get some GREAT opportunities from a simple email or phone call
Interviewed By: Angela Butler, thanks for reading!