Artist Spotlight: Fred Othero

By Albert Smith

Originally published on Advocate.com September 25 2010 1:30 AM ET

Artist statement:
I reside in Belo Horizonte, Minas Gerais, which is one of the most traditional states in Brazil, so photographing what I do is a taboo here, especially for someone about to graduate from a Catholic university. However, thanks to the Internet I am able to produce and showcase my work to clients and viewers all around the globe.

I have always been a photographer, but I have never thought I could do something different than just capturing what there was to be seen. I did my first photo shoot when I was in seventh grade for a school project using a very simple point-and-shoot Kodak 35mm camera. In my sophomore year I got my first digital camera, which I took with me everywhere.

For many years I have dreamed of working in advertising, but in college I finally realized that I could work with what I really love. At that moment I decided to quit my job as an intern at an advertising agency. I was determined to work with anything directly related to photography, even if it meant going to work printing pictures at Wal-Mart. Thankfully, it was not necessary. I will be graduating next July, and as a graduation project I'm doing academic research on the boundaries of fashion, photography, and art.FRED OTHERO 01 XSLIDE | ADVOCATE.COMThe Advocate: Why are you a photographer?
Othero: I remember taking my first picture at the age of 5, and it was already a male portrait, a picture of my father. I have been photographing ever since I got my first camera at the age of 11, a Polaroid 600. Therefore, photography has always been my passion; in a certain way my photographs fulfill me as nothing else can. Mainly, photographing is what keeps me going, and I cannot imagine being anything else.

What catches your eye?
I am very passionate about people who are puzzling, people who I feel can be someone else in front of the camera. I usually say that all my favorite photos are a self-portrait. I also love to photograph people who have great personality. I simply cannot photograph someone I do not like.

How do you choose your subjects?
This decision comes from what I am feeling at the time — I feel an urge to express those feelings, then I turn them into concepts. To portray those feelings I look for models everywhere. They usually come when I am not searching; once it happened that I found a guy exactly as I had imagined at a restaurant. I write all my ideas on my Moleskine, which I have with me 24/7. There I briefly describe what the idea is and how I had imagined it to be captured. Basically, I plan what I want to photograph, and all the other elements come easily.

How do you describe your work?
It is something very intimate, something that I have to express, to free my mind of. It is rather a reflection of my inner self, a shout of my emotions.

What makes a good photograph to you?
It has to have movement; must be a photograph that gives you the feeling that something is about to happen or even that something has just happened. It cannot be complete; it has to leave space for the viewers to insert themselves into the photograph.

Who are your favorite artists? And why?
I am completely in love with the work of Helmut Newton and Bruce Weber, mostly because their photos can keep me attentive for a long time, which is rather unusual since I am very hyperactive. I hope one day to become a hybrid of both.FRED OTHERO 02 XSLIDE | ADVOCATE.COMFRED OTHERO 03 XSLIDE | ADVOCATE.COMFRED OTHERO 04 XSLIDE | ADVOCATE.COM