Behind the Camera with DC&CO

Contributor: Danny Cardozo
Photos: Aventura Mall

Photographs and video have the power to shape conversations, tell a story, evoke emotion, and inspire movements. Visual artists pause and capture history with the contemporaneous click of a button, invent new worlds with props and editing, and use perspective to train our eye to see the beauty in everything. These art forms capture our environment and humankind with intention and imagination. While a click of a button takes just seconds, getting the perfect photo and video requires days of dedication and a team of experts.

We had a chance to sit down for an inspiring conversation with the team of DC&CO, a photo studio that goes beyond the call for excellence. The team pools together to create magnificent sets, modern landscapes, intimate details, and picturesque backdrops in its 10,000 square-foot studio. Founder Danny Cardozo, Director of Photography Carlos Rojas, and Prop Stylist Belinda Scott were the first to photograph LEVEL THREE, using their 30 years of experience and skill to capture every stunning corner of the space.

DC&CO Studios photographed Aventura Mall’s Spring campaign, utilizing the entire indoor and outdoor space of LEVEL THREE. What was your first reaction when you first stepped into LEVEL THREE? How did you utilize the space to create such a wide variety of photos?

Danny Cardozo (DC): Stepping into LEVEL THREE, I immediately saw it as a blank canvas with wonderful lighting, exuding great energy and endless possibilities. My team and I took that into account, as well as the existing atmosphere to create different vignettes that maximized the height and size of the space.

From editorial shoots to commercial material, what trends are you seeing in your line of work?

DC: Across the board, I have noticed a trend and direction towards modernity — simple, minimalist aesthetics with a purpose.

How do photographers work with the rest of the team to capture the perfect shot?

DC: In order to successfully shoot any job, photographers must work as a cohesive unit, creating a “dream team.”  Everyone’s contribution to the shoot is important and appreciated.

From LEVEL THREE’s blank white canvases to its lush outdoor setting, how did you develop the concepts for these standard studio offerings?

DC: Our goal was to maximize the potential of the space by incorporating elements of fashion and design, bringing the shoot to life. I was particularly drawn to the beautiful natural light, as it showcased and accented the architectural lines and the greenery leading up to the space.

Aventura Mall’s Spring campaign achieved a variety of themes, with models who were both poised and celebratory. As a photographer, can you describe how you were able to work one-on-one with models to achieve the mood of each setting?

DC: I thrive on the energy of each model, and I take inspiration from the clothing being utilized. I enjoy creating fairytales at a moment’s notice.

Aventura Mall’s Spring campaign captured the dynamic architecture of LEVEL THREE. How do you approach photographing landscapes vs. people?

DC: I am intuitive in my photography of both landscapes and people. The pictures come to life by allowing the moment to take shape, not restricting the end result.

Photoshoots require more than an artistic eye; they need human touch to create the world the art director envisions. From concept to procurement, take us through the process of creating the sets and spaces for Aventura Mall’s recent Spring campaign.

Belinda Scott (BS): I started with the mood board, which was very inspiring. After talking with the art director and bouncing ideas off of each other, I went scouting for props. I started pulling things together I thought would work with the photographer’s vision. I found them at local prop houses and rental places and, of course, lots of shopping at Aventura Mall. I brought many things from my own collection – my grandmother’s vintage champagne glasses and embroidered napkins I found years ago in a thrift store, to name a few. I am the queen of “just in case,” to my crew’s despair, but we always end up using something. It’s easy to work with beautiful concepts and people who love what they do; it inspired me to be creative. It was a pleasure to be part of this campaign.

How do filmmakers work with the rest of the team to capture the perfect shot?

Carlos Rojas (CR): In order to get the perfect shot for film, it takes planning. Unlike still photography, a perfect shot for film is rarely improvised. Because it has to be lit right, the background must be clean of anything that will break the suspension of disbelief, and sometimes it also has to be rehearsed prior to filming. Hence, the production team needs to allow a good amount of time for film. The models must know how to move for film and stay within character, so having a quick chat to give them clear directions is a must.

Film has swiftly become a leading medium. What big film trends are you noticing in the fashion industry?

CR: There is influence from the actual clothes worn in very popular films. Sometimes the fashion industry will fall in love with that and recreate character fashion styles in their collections.