Questions and answers with Carlos Palmieri.

{November 2019}

Title: Below the Surface - Underwater in 2019
Home: Durham, England

Where was the final image from this photoshoot featured?

Playboy. Portrait of Ed Freeman for Playboy Summer 2019, for the MAN IN HIS DOMAIN interview.

Give us a bit of background on the photoshoot concept.

The concept for the underwater shoot was centered on fluidity and sexuality, and it was the theme for Playboy's summer quarterly release. Since the underwater nude series Ed Freeman and I've worked on focuses heavily on exploring free movement and the human form, it seemed natural to use this series as a platform to dive into (pardon the pun) discussion on sexuality, gender, fluidity, and all of the above. Luckily, the team at Playboy put their trust in us and we were able to create a cover and other pieces for the magazine that I'm very proud of.

Why did you/your client choose the final image compared to the outtakes?

The final image shown next to the “Man in His Domain” interview was a collaborative decision between my dear friend Ed Freeman, Playboy Creative Director Erica Loewy, and myself. The idea was to show Ed in his element as an underwater photographer, so I positioned him in the deep end of the pool, camera in hand with the models all floating around him. I thought the composition would be especially impactful but also fun, given that Ed typically shoots from the shallow end because he can't really swim—a fact that's never stopped him from getting in a pool with a 20-pound weight vest on. Most importantly, I wanted to integrate him into one of his iconic underwater pieces as my way to immortalize the man behind the lens.

Any cheeky moments during this photoshoot that you'd be willing to share?

On the first day of the shoot, after months of prepping and believing that I had everything in order, one of the models asked if I could give her pointers on how to sink because she wasn’t the strongest swimmer. My heart sank. I thought, shit, I never asked if she could swim? It’s one thing to have to keep an eye on Ed not drowning, but now I have to ensure that the models don’t drown too? Luckily, after a few pointers from Linnea Snyderman, another one of the models and dear friend, it all worked out. The model who I thought couldn't swim turned out to be one of the best the whole weekend, and she even ended up on the cover.

Shed some light on how you got involved in photography.

My uncle, "tio Willy," gave me my first camera when I was very young. He loved his cameras, and would always teach me about them and how I could use them to capture all the interesting things around me. He's the reason I got involved in photography. Everything else has just been luck. Because of him, I've been able to use photography to earn a little money, travel a bit, and meet some incredibly talented people. I'm forever grateful to him for that.

What’s it like being on set with you?

In general, I tend to be very happy on set. It’s hard to be anything but, especially when it involves being underwater in a warm southern-California pool with a bunch of creative people. I enjoy environments that facilitate people’s creativity, so I’m typically focused on ensuring that everyone involved knows and feels comfortable with the concept for the shoot.

Do you prefer photographing with a big or small team on set?

Shooting with a small team has always been more my style. It’s nice when you have a large team with several assistants, but I just feel most comfortable when it’s a smaller production.

Describe your ideal photoshoot.

I’m shooting underwater and all the equipment is working flawlessly. The light is diffused just the right amount and the water is heated and crystal clear. All the models can hold their breath for 10 minutes at a time. Everyone has lots of fun and gets 100 images that are groundbreaking. And a nice bottle of wine afterwards wouldn’t hurt.

What makes a photograph special, in your opinion?

If it can take you to a place you’ve never been before, spark your imagination, make you question reality, or rattle the soul, it’s special.

Express what photography means to you.

So many ways to answer this question. Photography allows you to tell stories that others can instantly connect with, even if they speak a different language. So, photography means having the ability to connect with people from disparate backgrounds in ways that written or spoken language may not. That is so valuable to me.

It also allows me to connect more in-depth to the places and people that I photograph. There’s a common belief that taking a photo takes you away from experiencing a place fully, but I think it’s the opposite. Photography means actively finding those moments worth capturing in the world around you.

Do you photograph full-time? If not, what pays the bills?

No. I recently finished grad school and I’m currently paying the bills by helping artists with their business ventures. I help them find galleries, commercial work and sell their work to private buyers. So if you know any artist in need, send them my way.

Instagram and photography...need we say more? Give us your two cents.

I have polarized views on it—mostly negative, though. Love that it’s given artists the ability to reach large audiences, but hate that it can be so detrimental to the creative process. I’m frustrated thinking about all the ways I dislike it, especially having to admit that it’s become a necessary evil for the success of many artists.

The best thing I can say is limit your use of IG. And, if you must use it, go outside for the same amount of time you’re on it.

Do you have any suggestions to budding photographers out there?

Read. Learn something new. Be outdoors.

Any additional info you'd like to share about yourself and/or your photography?

I have a goal to visit 50 countries by 2021. It’s not looking great…

We obviously believe this outtakes concept is brilliant, but why do you think it's important for outtake photographs to be promoted in the industry?

Final images often tell heavily curated stories.

Having a platform to share outtakes can help demystify the process and provide viewers with a more real and balanced understanding of what goes into creating the “perfect image.” It’s a step away from the perfect Instagram facade. Plus, there’s a lot of cool work that gets forgotten, just collecting digital dust in stacks of old hard drives, that deserves a second look.

Anything you're working towards with your next move in photography?

I'm working towards consolidating all the underwater pieces we've created through the years into a book that will hopefully be ready by summer. Also, Ed and I have a secret project that involves working with an architect I admire, a giant infinity pool, and a beautiful European city. All of my energy is going towards that at the moment.

Share a quote you live by.

Live consciously, choose actively, let go often, and be kind.
~Inspired by Barry Schwartz “The Paradox of Choice”

And when all else fails, this one always comes through:

Bees and trees will calm and soothe.
~A. A. Milne


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