Introducing Biko Stupakoff.
As most everyone here knows, I am not a fan of Hipstamatic. But I try to keep an open mind. After the publication of an article about P1XELS on the mega-site Huffington Post, I received a lot of email, among them a letter from Bico with some shots from his shoot for Playmate of the Month for Brazilian Playboy and some other fashion lingerie shots, all taken using Hipstamatic. I loved the liveliness of his pictures, despite the use of Hipstamatic, proving once again it’s the eye of the artist, not the app, that matters.
I asked him he would do an interview and share some of his work with P1XELS. He happily agreed and sent enough material for four galleries, the first of which I am publishing today: the out-takes from the Playboy shoot. I know it’s out of the realm of our usual work here on P1XELS, but I think you will find the work quite interesting, and Bico’s take on iPhoneography (and image-making in general) fascinating.
KB: Please tell us a little about yourself – where you live, if you hail from Earth, anything like that. Whatever you feel like sharing that isn’t covered in the questions below.
BS: I am originally from Brazil but have been in NY since 1981when I came to work as an assistant to my Dad then a fashion photographer. After working helping other photographers for 8 years I had my breakthrough and went on to work worldwide but always maintaining a base in upstate NY where I still live today.
KB: How long have you been shooting pictures with your iPhone?
BS: I started taking pictures with my iphone when they first came out, there were no applications then but my iphone had a disaster where I lost it on the snow in my driveway, I found it days later soaked. I dried on top of my radiator in the house and once dry the thing turn on and it worked amazingly giving my iphone lens some weird effect which I was proud that it took different pictures then other iphones. I was falling in love with the fact that I could take pictures with a phone and the quality was good enough and I didn’t need to use my point and shoot camera anymore.
KB: How did the opportunity to shoot a Playboy centerfold using an iPhone come about?
BS: I had been practicing shooting a lot of models and friends with the iphone and an app called hipstamatic, I thought that it would be really cool if one day a magazine accepted using it. I had the opportunity to shoot a portraits for a magazine where in my final selections I included some iphone shots and to my surprise talking to the art director she said she really liked the “little square ones” and she publish it. When Playboy approached me to shoot a cover and 60pages special on a transexual I said I wanted to shoot it with my iphone and they were surprised, really surprised but accepted the challenge. I believed and convinced them that it would make the pictures more mysterious and so making the transexual also more mysterious and feminine.
KB: How did the shoot go? What kind of lighting did you use? How do your models react to being shot by an iPhone?
BS: The shoot went really well, but shooting with an iphone it is like working with an 8X10 camera, it takes a while to be able to shoot another shot, so you really have time to direct and work the photograph with the girl instead of shooting 1000 images to later choose one. It is a bit longer but so instant, when you got the shot you can stop. It was a marathon where I shot 35 pictures per day during 2 days, I used all natural light and we shot in a penthouse in Brazil. talking of the model’s reaction when she saw me using the iphone it was amazing, no one really, from my assistants to most of the crew they were all excited we were doing something that no one had really done it. Also loving the results.
KB: As far as the iPhone goes, when did you get serious about it, and what was the turning point for you?
BS: It got really serious when I started to shot pictures for the girls portfolios with it, they love it since it was a whole different way to work and they start telling other models and soon the agencies were loving it and it came to me that I wanted to do something with it…. and I was sure it would publish beautifully. Then I got to shoot a Fashion Campaign were I convince them to use the iphone and they went for it, that was the first.
KB: What do you like to shoot? When? How does your whole creative process work? And how has it evolved?
BS: I like to shoot anything, the minute I see there is some beauty I love it. I photograph fashion, nudes, sports, portraits, kids it really doesn’t matter as long as you can make a picture that has feelings and when others look at it makes them smile or it creates in them a reaction. I think a creative process is an accumulation of experiences and feelings, a little research and what message you want to portrait or give.
KB: Do you work in any other creative mediums, i.e., painting, music, writing, etc.?
BS: I draw mostly with pastels where I paint on big cardboard boxes, the best are the ones from the refrigerators, once split they are huge. I used to paint my phones and also did paint some cameras to shoot kids ( I did 3 gap campaigns in the 90′s ) they would not be intimidated by it and would think it was a toy making it fu to communicate with them. I painted race cars and motorbikes for friends :)
KB: Do you spend time online looking at the work of other iphontographic artists?
BS: not really, but now I have been discovering this whole world out there and it is beautiful to see all the images people are producing, now I am looking!
KB: Do you study other art forms?
BS: not really.
KB: Have you done a lot of traditional photography? If so, are you still using your camera as well as your iPhone?
BS: I use my camera very little, I do not own any film cameras anymore, I have a regular 5D if a client wants it but I really basically use my iphone or a G11 for most pictures.
KB: Who are some artists – in any medium – you admire or have influenced you?
BS: my Dad taught me to respect and to see beauty, I look at a lot of paintings and look at what magazines are publishing…. there are so many good people out there it is hard topointitto one person.
KB: What is your basic app kit, or Camera Bag, as Marty Yawnick calls it. How has your use of apps evolved over time?
BS: I have hipstamatic with all films and lenses but really use only one combo, Old camera…. that’s it . I don’t like to fiddle with the pictures I choose a look and I shoot,if it is good it is good to go….
KB: My feelings about Hipstamatic are well-known around this site. I am curious to know what you find appealing about the app.
BS: I just looked at it like if it was a different film that have a kind of reaction to it, I discovered that you have to have a good light to have it come out sharp, as a fashion photographer seeing the amount of retouching it is done on models skins, every girls skin looks perfect like silk and fake, on the hipstamatic what I like is that I do nothing to it, no re-touching and it has its own beautiful effect, so I shot and give it to the client as is,just like if it was a polaroid, no special treatment in a computer later on.
KB: Do you have any other exciting projects in the works that we can look forward to?
BS: I have another campaign to shoot mid june beginning of july for FLOR, a upcoming Brazilian brand, in the Atacama desert. There not only I will shoot with the iphone but I want to do a 15s spot for TV shot with iphone…. in May I’ll shoot a Playboy story in NYC and then wait for the next gig. Always available :)
KB: Are there any apps you don’t like?
BS: Don’t know about too many apps…. not really a gadget guy!
KB: Are there any specific improvements you would like to see made to existing apps?
BS: Just a really good resolution it is what we need….
KB: Are there any apps you would like to see developed/invented?
BS: No pretty happy with what I see and probably I haven’t even seen it all.
KB: When you feel you have reached a creative stalemate, and believe your work is not cutting it anymore, do you have any tricks for breaking out of artist’s block?
BS: that’s how I felt shooting with a regular camera, the iphone inspired me and made feel good about the photography again, we have to be constantly “playing “and looking for ideas, it is more about what you want to say. Your message.
KB: What features would you like to see implemented at the Pixels At An Exhibition website?
BS: You should have all the pro’s, famous photographers do an iphone story, for example everyone uses one same white shirt by a designer and it’s all about their photo.
KB: Well, please introduce us. A last word perhaps?
BS: I was not excited about photography anymore until I discovered how fun it is to use a telephone to shoot beautiful pictures, my father if he was alive he would be flabbergasted!
KB: Thank you, Bico.