By Albert Smith
Originally published on Advocate.com June 12 2010 5:00 AM ET
Why are you a photographer?
I should have a perfect answer by now! Some days I think I am just faking it as I go along, trying to do the best that I can, so that people wouldn't notice. To answer your question and to quote the iconic photographer Helmut Newton, “Look, I'm not an intellectual. I just take pictures.” Adding to that, I think I like telling stories, whether through my photographs, my ramblings on NaiveBoy.com, or the novels that I'm working on. I am a photographer because I simply want to tell stories of people or characters.
What catches your eye?
It could be the sunlight hitting a beautiful blond boy walking across the street. Sometimes I wish I had a camera attached in my eye socket so I could wink and it would last longer. At the risk of being called a stalker, I love watching people and documenting them from a distance, like bird watching. I have been working on a series about this — an old woman crying in a bench in Central Park, a cripple trying to cross the street, a beautifully lit couple trying to teach each other how to surf at a beach in Malibu. I see everything. My eyes are always open like my ears, always ready to hear their stories whether they are aware or not. But generally speaking, a combination of pretty face and beautiful light always catches my eye. It could be in a magazine, a film, or on a beach anywhere in the world.
How do you choose your subjects?
My subjects have varied in different chapters in my life. I love photographing people, mostly men; I also love photographing skyscrapers and shadows and shapes of a big city or a small fishing village. I like photographing strangers as well as friends. Most of my "older" works have been obviously with muscular men. I light them like I light the skyscrapers that I shoot — the same angles and respect. But nowadays I'm more drawn to men who are older than me and have this old Hollywood or early '90s Hollywood vibe in them — very masculine yet very vulnerable.
How do you describe your work?
It is still a work in progress. I feel like I am still growing as a photographer day by day, month by month, year by year. I love that I am hungry to learn and adapt in every situation thrown to me while capturing an image. Now that I have been playing with writing here and there, somehow the two very complex layers of my life, photography and writing, are starting to influence each other — hopefully for the good.
What makes a good photograph to you?
A good photograph for me should evoke an emotion or a reaction from the creator of the image to the viewer. It should tell a story or imply a thought. I wish my photographs would consistently do this. I hope some day.
Who are your favorite artists? And why?
Photographers like Nan Goldin, Richard Avedon, Mert Alas and Marcus Piggott, Philip Lorca-Dicorcia, Steven Klein, Nobuyoshi Araki, Herb Ritts, George Hoyningen-Huene, Baron Wilhelm von Gloeden, Sebastião Salgado, Helmut Newton, and Guy Bourdin; filmmakers like Akira Kurosawa, Peter Greenaway, Wong Kar-wai, Gus Van Sant, and Alfred Hitchcock — all in one way or another have shaped the way my generation looks at images and personally have shaped the way I looked at images that are important to me.
Lope Navo is a globe-trotting fashion and documentary photographer whose rich cultural heritage is evident in the unique aesthetic he acquired through his travels. At 27, he has lived and worked as a painter, graphic designer, and a photographer in the cities of Riyadh, Dharan, Dubai, Hong Kong, Sydney, Bangkok, New York, Los Angeles, and Berlin.
His signature style uses exotic overtones, surrealism, and cinema to inject texture and story to his photographs.
Navo is working on photo book projects, photo blog NaiveBoy.com, screenplays, a novel titled Naïve (about the dirty underbelly of modeling), and international exhibitions.