Camillo Longo is an artist from Southern California. He received a BFA from Art Center College of Design in 2012. His images focus on using limited light to create stories with mysterious, and moody atmosphere.
Where were you born & where do you live now?
How does your location influence your photography?
I was born and raised in the Antelope Valley. For those not familiar, it’s a desert community about 50 miles outside of Los Angeles. Since there’s not much of anything out here, I ended up shooting a lot indoors, but I’ve recently developed a new appreciation for my local landscape. I grew up surrounded by mountains, and now I’m exploring and photographing them as much as possible.
When did you first know you wanted to be a photographer?
Growing up I always loved making images. During family vacations I always had a camera in my hand. It wasn’t until my Junior year of High School that I knew I wanted to become a photographer and artist. My teacher at the time let me borrow a 35mm Minolta, and I was the only student he trusted to take it off campus. I’d like to think he was a vital reason why I became so enthralled with photography. I then spent the majority of my senior year in the darkroom, even during lunch. I went on to study photography for about five years in college, eventually graduating from the Art Center College of Design.
Most of your images are dark, moody and using limited color palette, is there a reason for that?
Using those methods help me tell my story better. This year specifically, I challenged myself to visit a dozen National Parks. I wanted to create images of them that I’ve never seen before, and photographing them on gloomy days was my solution to that. Our parks have been photographed so many times, and it’s not hard to make a beautiful picture when you’re there. Limiting myself to a certain mood and palette challenges me to make photographs which, hopefully, make the viewer feel something more.
Your series « Mechanical, Specimens and Orphans » each features single objects and they’re striking. Can you tell us a bit more about them?
Those are all things that I have a big interest in. I guess I use photography as an excuse to explore and learn more about them. I started the “Specimens” series about five years ago, and I’ve learned a ton about insects… I regularly attend bug events, made friends in the community, and started collecting and pinning my own specimens. I really try to involve myself as much as possible in the culture of what I’m shooting. As far as “Mechanical” and “Orphans” I just have a huge love for old junk. I collect, buy, and sell it. Most of the objects in the photographs are from my personal collection.
Your Instagram account is quite different than your website, how do you select images for it?
That’s a good question— It’s one I still ask myself! My website is actually very outdated, It’s so hard to keep an updated portfolio! I’m hoping to work on that soon and have my Instagram and my website more cohesive.
For how long have you been using Fujifilm cameras? What were you using before and why did you decided to get a Fujifilm camera?
I’ve been using Fujifilm cameras for about three years now. I eventually switched all my Canon 5D mk2 DSLR gear to Fujifilm X-Series after shooting with the X100s. What attracted me to Fuji at first was the retro aesthetic, but the way they record color and light won me over. When I moved to the X-T1, that camera became an extension of how I see without large, bulky equipment getting in the way. I love how all the dials are at my fingertips and how discrete the cameras can be. They bring undistracted joy to making images. These cameras have breathed new life into my image making. The X-Series has soul.
How do you create the look of your images?
It all begins, for me, in camera... I shoot on gray days, use sparse amounts of color, and pre-visualize as much as possible. As far as lighting, I always shoot closer to sunrise or sunset, for the least amount of light. I prefer to work with as little amount of light as possible. My main technique, however, is that I always heavily underexpose my frames. Once in the computer, I open the shadows, desaturate, color correct, etc. I don't go too crazy with masks and multiple layers. My goal is to always spend the least amount of time in post as possible.
What are your plans for this year? Do you already have a new project in mind?
Travel and visit as many National Parks as I can. I’m on my eighth one this year, and I’m hoping to go to at least four more before the year is over. I guess that is my next project— to take all of the photos I make at parks and turn them into a book. I’m also in love with the little town of Wrightwood and Highway 2, so I’m hoping to turn those images into a book or body of work soon. Last year I spent a majority of the year shooting and writing for a book called “Sad Luck Diner” and it was incredibly draining. It was inherently a depressing body of work, and it took a toll on me. So for now, I’m just going with the flow.
Where can we see more of your work?
Follow my on Instagram for the latest: @camillolongo.