Pedro Bucher started years ago as an assistant in Rio de Janeiro, but his heart was somewhere else. In his mind he knew that one day he would become a fashion photographer in the city that never sleeps: New York. He already succeeded in the first part of his plan by working as a fashion photographer. And after he tasted some of the big apple some months ago, he’s even more motivated to fulfil the second part and move there to follow his dreams. His goal: to create beautiful things and inspire others with his work. We talked with Pedro about his journey, his goals and the challenges he has to accomplish to achieve them.
Can you tell us a little bit more about yourself?
I’m a twenty-seven year-old photographer from Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. I have a Bachelors degree in Advertising & Marketing and, besides working, I really enjoy going to the movies and surfing. I have a cat called Titica (something like ‘lil’ crap’ in English) and she’s awesome.
Did you want to be a photographer since you were a little kid? How did you develop an interest in photography?
Not really. When I was around fourteen years old my mom kept telling me to take a camera to my trips in order to register moments with my friends and the places I visited. She was really into photography as well and, fortunately, she convinced me of doing so by telling me that I would really enjoy having these pictures to look at in the future and relive good moments. And she was totally right (thanks mom!).
I had a camera with me in every trip I did with my friends. I loved (and still do) documenting usual things in our days; sometimes those pictures were portraits or landscapes in which I explored my eye and artistic side a little more. I think that was the time when I started to enjoy photography. I saw myself creating images that made me happy. Being happy just by seeing a picture? That was kind of magical for me. In addition to that, my aunt (one of my mom’s sisters) – a true photography enthusiast – showed me the first DSLR I had ever seen. From this moment on I was crazy about getting one for myself, and after a while my parents gave me a small camera as a birthday gift, a camera that I could play manually with all the settings.
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How many years have you already been in the business? Can you tell us something about your journey?
I think it’s been six or seven years since I started working with photography, although maybe five with fashion. Before I got into fashion I used to work in events and as a graphic designer intern simultaneously. At the time I co-founded a company that used to capture events here in Rio. That was a really important step for me because until then I had never seen photography as a way to make a living. One of my partners and friend, who invited me to start this business, was the one who made me believe it was possible to live through photography.
The first contact I had with fashion was after taking pictures of a workshop at Instituto Rio Moda facilitated by a Brazilian stylist. There I met the first photographer I assisted. She invited me to assist her in an editorial with a Dutch female model that was around for Rio’s fashion week. That day I asked her if I could bring my own camera and she said it was okay. I did something stupid and snapped some pictures while assisting her at the same time she was shooting (yes, I know…). I only understood how wrong that was years later. Anyway, that day I fell in love with that experience.
Some time later I was still with my company capturing events and still working as a graphic designer intern, but little by little I started to pay more attention to fashion and as an assistant. Everyday I studied and read about photography, fashion photography, looked at references and stuff. Frequently at my internship I caught myself all day looking at references in Tumblr. I wasn’t even aware of what ‘references’ stood for; I just liked to see those beautiful images and thought I could create something just as beautiful someday.
After a while, small brands and friends started asking me to shoot for them. And years later I was working with some of the biggest brands in Brazil. I wasn’t seeking these big jobs but I couldn’t refuse the opportunities that were presented to me. In fact, I struggled a lot because I stopped assisting really soon. Half part of me wanted to keep assisting more (a lot more), but the other half accepted these challenges, which helped me grow as a professional. After my father’s passing in February 2012 I felt obligated to take on more responsibilities in my life and to be more professional.
As a photographer you have a lot of competition. Because of the digital era everybody can call himself or herself a photographer. How do you educate yourself to take better pictures?
I always try to learn new things, techniques and to keep myself updated about what’s happening in the world. I study a lot about photography, art, fashion, and references (both classics and contemporary artists), as well as branding, styling, makeup and hairstyling. Knowledge in general is the key.
And mainly, I try not to limit myself to just taking good pictures. I like to be involved in all stages that permeate the creative process of a job. My photography by itself isn’t everything. I rely on other professionals that contribute directly to our final product, and I like to participate on those steps as well. We work as a team and I communicate what we’re aiming at and the directions we must follow so we can create and be better together.
Some of your specialties are fashion and portrait photography; therefore, you have to work a lot together with models. How do you get the model in front of your camera onto the picture just the way you want?
That depends on the model I’m working with. Every time before a shooting I talk to the model and tell him/her what we’re aiming at. I talk to the model about the character he or she will need to impersonate or what idea we need to represent. I show references with the acting, attitude and mood I’m looking for and that helps a lot. I also try to show poses during the work (which is kind of funny sometimes). And of course, it’s good to make them feel comfortable and relaxed.
An important thing to me is to make it clear that they’re a part of a team and that we need to work together in order to achieve the results we want. I tell them to feel free to add and suggest ideas. If I don’t do that I feel like some models get stuck on the directions they receive and do not adapt when needed. Sometimes it’s a tough job and sometimes things go smoothly. But anyway I really enjoy the challenge and interaction.
Your work also contains documentary, landscape and still life photography. What kind of photography do you prefer and why?
The kind that has people in it. People are awesome and their uniqueness fascinates me. I definitely love portraits. I always try to explore this in my fashion work. People’s expressions can say a lot in a single image, even if this picture doesn’t have any product in it.
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You are currently living in Brazil but it is your dream to move to New York. What is your connection with the American city?
I love the fact that New York city is a ‘world capital’. You can meet people from anywhere and I find that really interesting. I’m amazed by its rich culture and lifestyle. I feel like I belong when I’m there.
My first time in New York was in 2008, and even though I was eighteen years old and not being mature - or old - enough to fully enjoy the city I fell in love with it. After this trip I went back to the city two times and the last time (2016) I stayed for three months. That third time happened after I decided I needed to experience and feel the industry in the city. I wanted to check how some of the best in the world did and if I’d be able to fit myself in and to create my own space at some point. That was one of the most important decisions in my life and the things I did and moments I lived are priceless. Long story short: I loved and enjoyed it as much as I could, met great people and created things with them that made me proud and made me believe I can achieve it.
What is the difference between photography in Brazil compared to photography in New York?
This matter is influenced by so many factors that my answer couldn’t be limited to photography itself. I think culturally they’re really different. I felt that the fashion and art industries are more respected and taken more seriously in New York. This is not a rule about how things are in Brazil, it’s only an overview. The approach around here used by some people is really amateur and we struggle a lot with the difficulties that come with that.
New York showed itself to me as a really competitive city. There you see some of the best professionals in the world trying to stay on the top of their game. I quite identify with this philosophy because I’m always trying to do my best and I enjoy working with people who share this way of thinking. I see myself as a really young photographer, but I try to position myself as the more experienced creatives I look up to by adopting a professional attitude like theirs. I think that if you want to be a great professional you got to behave like one, and I don’t see that attitude in most people here in Brazil. Actually, I don’t see people pushing themselves to achieve their best; only a few do that.
Politics and economics in Brazil obviously affect negatively the way things happen here. It’s not difficult to know that this part is messy here (unfortunately). Undertaking a business in Brazil is not an easy task. New York may not be easy but that’s because of other reasons; reasons that require you to be in your best shape and to improve yourself every day.
Which photographers influenced you the most? And how did they affect your personal progress as a photographer.
Off the top of my head? Steven Meisel, Helmut Newton, Petra Collins, Dario Catellani, Harley Weir, Benjamin Vnuk, Arnaud Lajeunie, Vitali Gelwich, the duo Frankiewicz-Rozniata, etc. Their work fascinates me and makes me want to be as good as they are. They inspire me and make me want to inspire other people (someday or as soon as I can).
You are also interested in fine arts. Where did that interest come from?
That’s recent. I started thinking about that because of some random factors. Maybe the main one is that every time I’m with a camera in a non-professional situation it’s a film camera. I’m really passionate about film aesthetics and the process itself. When I shoot film I think I enjoy the moment a little more. I believe that’s why I ended up giving this different artistic value to the images created with film. I started to see things differently and to like the results of these experiments.
I was feeling really happy about some images I was getting out of my rolls and felt that I needed to explore that a little more. That’s where the desire of exposing this other side of me came from. But it’s a long path to go through, I still need to learn and study a lot about the subject.
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