Karina Taira, la directora y fotógrafa con un amplio background en belleza y fashion, se sumó al staff de realizadores de Casta Diva Beauty de Brasil. Según Taira, la visión de una mujer detrás de la cámara se evidencia en una publicidad no estereotipada.
Taira ha trabajado con marcas como Dior, Diesel, Guerlain y Givenchy, entre otras. Comenzó en la fotografía siendo muy joven y rápidamente construyó su reputación gracias a los trabajos para Vogue, Life, XS e I-D.
“Conozco a Carolina Legovich de Casta Diva desde hace mucho tiempo y trabajamos para muchas compañías. Trabajamos de la misma manera y estoy muy cómoda con ella. Estoy muy entusiasmada con Brasil porque lo que está pasando tiene mucho que ver con mi mundo y la sensualidad que se ve en las mujeres es muy similar a cómo yo las veo. Estoy muy feliz con este nuevo comienzo”, comentó Taira sobre su llegada a la productora.
Por su parte, Carolina Legovich, productora internacional de Casta Diva Buenos Aires, agregó: “conozco a Karina desde hace más de 12 años. La venía contactando hace muchos años porque me encanta trabajar con ella, su trabajo y su profesionalismo. En los últimos Cannes estuvimos hablando y este último año pudimos acordar tener la representación de Karina en Casta Diva Beauty Brasil, una división de Casta Diva especializada en clientes, agencias y directores que se manejan en la industria del Beauty”.
A propósito de su estilo de trabajo, Karina Taira dijo que es muy personal y “tiene mucho que ver con quién soy en ese momento, haciendo una reflexión sobre qué creo como mujer. Desde un punto de vista artístico, es una búsqueda constante en la que siempre trato de crecer y evolucionar”.
Sobre su larga experiencia, en la que se desempeñó como fotógrafa de belleza durante más de 20 años, comentó que busca tender un puente entre estos dos mundos, “porque en film tenemos mucha gente y las ideas están muy establecidas, pero en fotografía todavía hay cierta capacidad de improvisar y crear, y las imágenes tienen otras textura”.
En lo referente a los planes de trabajo en esta nueva etapa, Carolina Legovich dijo que se busca con la división Beauty de Casta Diva “estar pendiente de todos los detalles y lograr algo absolutamente bello para mostrar; y se que Karina es perfecta para eso”. Por su parte, Taira, remarcó que hay muchas marcas relacionadas en Brasil y que hay mucho por hacer con beauty y fashion.
Con respecto a los estereotipos femeninos a la hora de filmar este tipo de comerciales, la directora opinó que, aunque siempre tuvo su propia voz y no la contratan por ser hombre o mujer, su condición femenina implica una ventaja. “Yo compro estos productos y sé lo que quieren las mujeres. Puedo ver cuando un hombre filma a una mujer porque es cursi a veces y también puedo ver cuando un fotógrafo ve a la mujer como un objeto. Como mujer, puedo ver la belleza de otra manera, ni siquiera es algo consciente, es algo orgánico”, aseguró.
Ezequiel Iacobone, Insider LatAm
NATURAL BORN VISUALIST -
Adoi Marketing Communications
Karina Taira is no new name to the advertising world. She has been a professional photographer since the age of 19 and it was a trip to the Cannes Advertising Festival not long ago that sparked in her a passion for commercials. The twenty nine-year old Japanese-American is today and accomplished fashion photographer and commercials director who is quickly becoming one of the most preferred female shooters in the business. A graduate of Art Center from Pasadena, Taira has worked for an array of top clients such as Givenchy, Pommery Champagne, L'oreal, Christian Dior, Absolut Vodka, Nina Ricci perfume, La Perla, Oil of Olay, Evian, Peugeot, Kotex, Marks + Spencer, Microsoft, Lee Jeans, Philips Electronics, Il France Telecom, Tag Heuer, Courvoisier, Playstation, Dior cosmetics, Bath and Body Works and Motorola just to name a few.
She was recently in Jakarta, to shoot a 'Lux' commercial for ad agency J. Walter Thompson and production house Passion Pictures. Armed with a camera, ADOI gets a shot at this "artist's" imaginative mind.
It's impressive to know, that you were a professional photographer since your late teens, what beats my curiosity is how does a six year old pull together a 'fashion shoot'?
Well, when I was six years old, I would shoot animals and take pictures of the things I loved. I felt happy because I could remember the things I loved by these photographs. When I was 7, I was at a summer horse camp and took a photography class. Where we played with chemicals and photo paper and did photographs and printed out own stuff. What is funny is that every time I had some all these things, it brought me unthinkingly towards photography. Also my friends would come over and we would do photos trying to look like we were flying. So we would jump on top of the car and take flying poses and shoot the camera up towards the sky from a low angle and crop the legs out so we would be at the bottom of the frame flying in the sky. And with friends we would play dress up and then take a few polaroids and photos. A few years later we did fake fashion shoots at home and pretended we were on a beach with towels, sunglasses and swimsuits, and play dress up with mom's clothes and do makeup and take photos in the coolest parts of home. It was all for play and fun. Then around 15, I became more serious about it. And took photography classes on the weekends at the local college.
Who has inspired your journey both as photographer and director?/
My journey has been inspired from a wide range of art. My first love of photography were the French documentary photographers like Robert Doisneau, Henri Cartier Bresson, and Eugene Atget. That was a huge inspiration and it really got me excited. Then I also remember looking at fashion magazines and yearning to want to become a fashion photographer when I was around 15 years old. Also the movies inspired me greatly. Just taking people on a journey to another world. Film makers like David Lynch and Wong Kar Wai have greatly moved and inspired me. David Lynch, because he has such a strong universe that we have to plunge deep with him to feel and smell his world. Wong Kar Wai for the mood he gives and also the stores he tells of people making connection to each other even for a mere fleeting moment. They all have their own point of view and personal stamp, which is what inspires me. Also now, I love contemporary art, installations and video art like Bill Viola. I also had the influence of watching TV when I was in Japan every summer and I adored their commercials. They were beautiful, quirky and funny.
Though photography and directing are visual crafts, I'm assuming that the ideation process varies. Kindly elaborate.
The ideation is different but also similar at the same time. Yes, definitely it is very abstract. Often someone comes to me with a vague idea. They tell me what they want and what they would like as a feeling (emotion). Then it all abstractly comes together. It is always difficult to get across what one has in one's head because we have to try to find a reference that would match a basic idea we have or a drawing or a photo of a place or a certain light. When I have to find ideas for myself for personal work I find it to be a whole different process, where I have to dig so deep inside to find why I bother making art and what really matters to me philosophically. The ideation between photography and film are very similar. They all start with a basic concept and I try to find ways to portray that in the most personal manner. Of course film goes a little further because one has the element of camera movement and sound. And a performance in continuation and not just a 60th of a second.
Share with us about your trip to Jakarta, what are your thoughts on the people, culture ect.
I have always been so in love with Indonesia. This is my 4th time here. I always come for vacation and actually feel quite comfortable. Also because of my Asian background I actually feel more comfortable in Asia than I do in Europe. I understand the Asian mentality that is so different in so many subtle ways to the west. I love being able to have the mix when I work in Asia and also love the warm weather. I get very stresses when I am in a cold place.
Any words of wisdom for the young and upcoming directors?
Yes, one must take risks. Listen to one's intuition and not doubt one's self. Always listen to your heart. Without risks one will never get anywhere. One must also desire from the heart and soum wherever one wants to go and do.
Director to Watch - Boards Magazine : Oct 2003
Each Year Boards Magazine goes through hundreds of reels from the commercial directing world and attempts to draw attention to some of the highlights in the form the tried and true top ten list. Originally intending to judge the worthiness of directorial candidates by their good looks and charm, Boards quickly found this method to be both impractical and unfair. Instead, up and coming candidates were assessed on the following criteria.
1. The message: The director got the client and the agency's message through.
2. The method: Reagrdless of style, the story got lifted off the page, on to the screen and burned into memory.
3. The madness: Without compromising the first two criteria, rules were broken, enlarging the current size of the thinking box.
I no particular order, here are profiles of the 2003 top 10 directors to watch, with a further 20 runners up- congartulations to all...
Director to Watch
Influenced by her success as a fashion photographer, 30-year-old Karina Taira's film work exudes a powerful and sometimes darkly esoteric sense. Based in NY and Paris, Japanese-American Taira was working as a pro photographer by 19 after studying at Stanford and Art Center. Taira, who has been directing for three years nd works through Believe in the US and UK, and Quad in Paris, divides her time between spots and photography. Her commercial work includes sexy spots for Alfa Romeo (HHCL/Red Cell), Guerlain Shalimar (Opera, Paris) and several perfume clients.
LES DÉTAILS QUI CRIENT
Des femmes sexy, un oeil maquillé, un grain de peau lumineux, tout ands les photos de Karina Taira concourt à créer un univers « fashionement correct ». Pourtant, il y a toujours un détail (une bouche qui hurle, un mascara qui coule...) pour leur donner un côté dérangeant. La galerie Picto Bastille permet de découvrir le travail de cette Californienne de 28 ans. Karina décide d'être photographe de mode à 6 ans et shoote ses premières séries avec un Polaroid avant même d'entrer à la grande école. Depuis, elle a travaillé pour les magazines les plus branchés («Wallpaper», «Tank», «Surface»...) et les maisons les plus pointues comme Dior ou Diesel. A suivre, donc...
- Jacques Braunstein
The Dark Ambitions of Karina Taira -
picture magazine : July/August 2004
Karina Taira is caught in a vicious cycle. Either she is in the studio shooting or at the lab reprinting her books. And as soon as her books are up-to-date, she has produced new work and it's back to the lab again. She could just delegate the upkeep of her portfolios to her agent, but then that wouldn't be very Karina Taira. "I print at home and also at the lab where I stand over my printer until closing time to make sure he gets it just right. I once asked my retoucher if he sees other people working as hard as me and he said, 'No. You're definitely a workaholic. You're totally obsessed.'" Call it what you will but there is no denying Karina Taira is an ambitious lady when it comes to her photography. Or that her ambitions are paying off.
The Art of Coming Undone
Since graduating from the Pasadena the Art Center College of Design in 1994, Taira's work has appeared in W Magazine, French Elle, Big, Rouge, XS, Vellum, Italian Amica, and i-D. She has also photographed ad campaigns for Givenchy, Guerlain, L'Oreal, Christian Dior, Diesel perfume, Absolut Vodka, and Max Factor among others. As a commercial director, she has worked for clients ranging from Alfa Romeo cars to Covergirl Mascara.
Taira seems to have attained a considerable amount of success in a short time. But she did get an early start. "I began taking pictures when I was five. By the time I was six, I would have my friends stand on the tops of cars and shoot them from below to make it look like they were flying. Around age eight or nine my girlfriends and I would put together fashion shoots. If they weren't around I would get out the makeup and dress my brother up like a girl. It was never even a question of what I wanted to be," she recalls. "I was just taking pictures."
Whether it's a fashion spread for i-D magazine or an independent film, the center of most any Karina Taira creation is a confident, complicated woman. If not a touch tormented. "I like strong women. I don't like passive women," Taira says admitting that her work errs on the dark side. For one of her first bookings with French Elle, Taira remembers being asked to shoot a springtime story with a happy girl carrying a fistful of flowers. Her interpretation was a disheveled model crumpled on the ground and laughing insanely while beheading her bouquet with a pair of sharp shears. "I wanted to break the standard rules of how pretty is portrayed in commercial magazines. I thought, 'How can I make a crazy, pretty girl?' I like to push my girls into characters that make the story about more than just the clothes. I'm very inspired by David Lynch characters - beautiful women with a dark side."
Taira says her inspirations also stem from her own experiences. And from having a really horrifying imagination. "I have a very dark way that scares me to a point. I experienced a lot of violence when I lived in Los Angeles from 1990-1994. I almost got killed several times. I was put up at gunpoint many times and then there were the riots and the earthquakes and my college initiation time. All these experiences provoke my imagination. I have a sort of horror movie point of view when I was down a street. The garbage bag becomes a dead person or I turn the corner and imagine I see a body cut up in the street. I have thought of my tongue being cut off. I'm always imagining the worst. It's a part of my every day."
But there is a lighter side to Taira. In response to feeling there isn't enough emotion in today's fashion images, she has recently begun to explore. "Everyone is always scowling with tough faces. I've been able to find more irony and humor in my work. I feel I can play with more emotion now than ever before. And I like to change directions. After a while I get bored doing the same thing. But I have to watch it because I change a bit too quickly, then people can't keep up."
The thirty-one year old Japanese American was born in San Francisco, California. Her father is a venture capitalist and her mother is an artist specializing in nineteenth century porcelain dolls. Though Taira grew up an American girl, she is close to her Japanese roots. Her mother is from a town called Otaru, on the northern island of Hokkaido which is close to Russia, and her father is from Yoron Shima in southern Japan. "It's tropical and lush and the sand if very famous because when you look at it closely, the individual grains are all the shape of miniature stars. They speak their own language, so I can't communicate with some of my relatives from there."
Since family is of great importance to Taira, the is a big deal. She attributes much of her success to their encouragement and support. "I never imagined I could make a career out of taking pictures. When I was a kid, I would tell people I wanted to be a diplomat or an ambassador to justify wanting to travel the world as a photographer." Her mother encouraged her to do what she loved and assured Taira that taking pictures was reason enough.
By age fifteen tiara was working in a photo lab. Before long she was photographing fine art projects while pursuing her formal education abroad at TASIS (The American School in Switzerland) in Paris and Surrey England, the Stanford University in 1989. After her first year at Art Center, Taira took time off to work in Japan. A year later she returned to Art Center with a full portfolio and, in addition to her heavy school workload, began traveling frequently to LA for shoots.
"I was super driven at Art Center. I was obsessed," she recalls. "In fashion, I think you have to move quickly. I knew the moment I got out that my work had to be up to the moment and I wanted to get a head start."
Not much has changed about Taira since then. "Sometimes I feel I'm working so hard and wonder if it's this hard for everybody. I don't do much in my spare time. Though I do work out a little. But even that I do on a treadmill at home because I can't lose one minute in front of my computer. Not even the time it takes to get to and from the gym."
Today Taira is more driven and self-determined than ever. In recent years, she has added "director" to her resume and says her commercial career has been quite an eclectic mix. Her most recent commercials include two for Alfa Romeo and two for America Online. She also just completed a commercial for Covergirl with actress Tasha Tillberg and one for L'Oreal with model Latitia Casta and model/actress Andie McDowell, as well as a film launch for Cerrutti Si perfume for men.
"For me, my photography and film are on in the same. Both are a result of what I love and my sensibilities. And both crafts help the other in some way. My photography keeps me spontaneous and evolving because I'm shooting something different every week. Film gives me freedom - I don't have a client standing behind me so I can get away with more," she says. "When the camera is moving I see so many things. It's like taking a million pictures."
Like many fashion photographers, Taira has joined the digital age. She says she's hooked on its immediacy and fast turn around time. "I'm so much less stressed. It has changed my work tremendously." Taira still uses her favorite RZ 6X7 and Mamiya lenses. And she appreciates having a computer at her side with an image that is close to the final print. "Much closer than that funky green Polaroid. I had to sit and wait on for a minute and a half." Taira's lighting is still all in-camera, an aspect of her photography that she takes very personally. Many photographers rely on their assistants for lighting, but Taira falls into the camp of those who know exactly what they want and how to get it. "I will never relinquish my lighting. The light is the signature of the photograph. In a way it is very primal and intuitive for me. Even when I try to do what's 'modern' by other standards, I can't because it's not contemporary to what I feel."
Did you say moo?
Taira spends a lot of time in Paris where she owns an apartment on the Isle Saint Louis. But she prefers being at home in New York where she is in the process of making big moves, both business and personal. "I'm selling my Soho loft and looking for a larger space. I've also just changed agents in New York and I'm so happy.
Saturday at midnight is the first chance Taira has to sit down and talk for this interview. When I ask her what she sees herself doing in the next ten years, of course Taira has ambitious plans. But it's good to hear they include taking a little more time to relax. "I hope to be in New York more with a part time home in Italy. Maybe Tuscany. Hopefully by then my Italian will be fluent. And I would like to be directing feature films and doing a commercial here and there, working on art books and exhibitions and campaigns with a little magazine work in between. I just want to be creative and also have time to enjoy life. And I want to worry less about my career and just go with what comes my way."
Karina Taira is a very serious lady. Especially when it comes to her photography. The young Japanese-American began shooting at age six. By age fifteen she was working in a photo lab. She started her professional career at nineteen while attending the Art Center College of Design in Pasadena. Since then, her work has appeared in W Magazine, Big, Rouge, XS, Vellum, Italian Amica, and i-D. She has photographer ad campaigns for Givenchy, Guerlain, L'Oreal, Christian Dior, Diesel perfume, Absolut Vodka, and Max Factor among others. Her commercials range from spots for Alfa Romeo cars to Covergirl Mascara.
For this interview, Taira talks to Vellum from Paris in a rare moment she is not working, which just happens to be on a Saturday around midnight. "My retoucher says I'm a workaholic,: Taira confesses, adding that she herself often wonders if the other photographers have to work so hard. As the moon rises high over Paris, Taira talks about why she likes to put people in uncomfortable situations, what it's like being cursed with a "horror movie" imagination, and how she almost didn't make in out of Art Center alive.
What makes a woman sexy to you?
I think it comes from within. It's something she exudes - almost an animal thing. When you meet a woman who has something just so incredible about her, I think it's coming from the way she moves, her gestures, how she carries and expresses herself, speaks, walks, and interacts. I think it's also about an attitude and the way one approaches life. It's about confidence and sensuality and living in the moment. And having an intimate contact and connection with the people you come across.
You obviously pick up on a lot when you meet someone in person. It must be difficult for you to choose models from their composite cards.
I actually have a really hard time casting in person because I'm moved much more by a model's energy than by how she looks. Sometimes I can't see what the models look like because I'm so in tune to the feeling, which can throw me off because photography is about the visual. So, what I normally do for jobs is hold video castings. It allows me to see the models in movement, but not be effected by their spiritual energy. I can tell better how they're going to look in two-dimension from video. You can also see in video if someone is comfortable with her body. I've shot some gorgeous, gorgeous girls who were either too young or just didn't know hoe beautiful they were, so they couldn't seduce the viewer. I brief my casting directors very carefully on exactly what I want. I like to put people in uncomfortable situations to see how spontaneous they will be in front of the camera.
That makes sense considering your shooting style, which involves a lot of movement and contorted positions. Your models can look a little tormented, yet somehow sexy and sensual. What are your inspirations?
It all comes from my everyday life, my experiences, and what I believe in. A long time ago, before I was old enough to get into nightclubs, I used to study how more mature women moved. I noticed they moved a little bit slower, steadier, and calmer. Even with their eye movements. They had more grace and control over their bodies than the younger girls. When you meet a person, you can tell a lot about then in the first five minutes by their pacing and movements, their mood, if they are sensual, if they are living in the moment, if they're more tactile or intellectual. The tendency to watch people's movements continues to be part of my life and is one of the more philosophical aspect that I apply to my work. My inspirations also come from having a really horrifying imagination and a very dark way that scares me to a point. I experienced a lot of violence when I lived in Los Angeles from 1990-1994. I almost got killed several times. I was put up at gunpoint many times. Then there were the riots and the earthquakes and my college initiation time. All these experiences provoke my imagination, especially when I'm tired. I have sort of horror movie point of view when I walk down a street. The garbage bag becomes a dead person, or I turn the corner and imagine I see a body cut up in the street. I have thoughts of my tongue being cut off. So I have a dark side - I don't exactly know where it comes from. I'm always imagining the worst. It's part of my every day.
I can see its influence even in your beauty work, which is rarely ever traditional. Do cosmetic clients ask you to dial it back or do they five you full reign?
Usually we start with a certain idea where the client will day, "We love what you do, but it's too much. This is what we need." So I make sure they have what they want and than I just go crazy.
On your website you have a separate section for your personal work. How is it different from your commercial work?
Those are just works that have appeared in exhibitions. It's all personal for me.
What were you working on this week?
I've been working nonstop on my books. I print at home and also with my lab. The upkeep of my books is very time consuming!
Only if you constantly produce new work, which you do. Your style has gone through so many changes in just the last three years.
It has. And it's funny, since last week I've been up day and night working on another thirty images or more, so all my current stuff is going to be old in another two weeks. I like to change directions. I also like to challenge myself. I give myself little tests, almost like school assignments, or a rule to stick to. For example, I'll decide a picture must be in hard light, then try and figure out how I can make it beautiful. After a while I get bored doing the same thing so I want to change, but I have to watch it because I do that a little but too quickly, then people can't keep up.
You seem very ambitious and self-reliant. I understand you didn't use any assistants for at least the first decade of your career. Have you finally relinquished a little control?
I have got assistants, but some photographers rely on their assistants to light for them. Then there is the other group of photographers like me who know exactly what they like. I will never relinquish my lighting. For me, lighting is very personal. The light is the signature of the photograph. It's what you're saying, the kind of lines you're drawing, the kind of skin you're showing. And because lighting affects everything - textures, highlights, how the skin appears, the way the clothes and make-up come across - it greatly affects the sensuality of the photo. In a way, lighting is very primal and intuitive for me. Even when I try to do what's "modern" by other standards, I can't because it's not contemporary to what I feel.
How long have you know you wanted to be a photographer?
I've been shooting since I was age six. I would have my friends stand on the tops of cars and shoot them from below to make it look like they were flying. Around age eight or nine, my girlfriends and I would put together fashion shoots. If they weren't around, I would get out the make-up and dress my brother up like a girl. It was never even a question of what I wanted to be - I was just taking pictures. Then around age fifteen I got serious about fashion photography and started working in a lab.
Do you consider yourself overly ambitious?
Sometimes I feel I'm working so hard and wonder if it's this hard for everybody else. I know some photographers socially, but I don't know their work ethics. So, I've asked my retoucher of he sees other people working as hard as me and he said, "No. You're definitely a workaholic. You're totally obsessed." He asked me once what I do in my spare times, and I told him I work out, but even that I do on a treadmill because I can't lose one minute in front of my computer. Not even the times it takes to get to and from the gym. He said, "God Karina. You're so American."
You're not so American, really. Your parents are Japanese.
Yes, my mother if from a beautiful island in the north of Japan called Hokkaido, which is very close to Russia. The town is called Otaru. Strangely enough, they have beautiful European-inspired canals there and it is an extremely artistic town with glass blowers, sculptors, and amazing food. And my father if from Yoron Shima, which is in the deep south. They have their own language, so I can't even communicate with some relatives from there. This island looks like paradise. The sand is very famous because when you look at it closely, the individual grains are all the shape of miniature stars. And when the tide is low all these amazing sand banks appear. It's very tropical and lush place with sugar canes and palm trees. It's very different from my mother's homeland.
Where do you live now?
It's funny you should ask because I'm selling my apartment in New York, and the last time you interviewed me three years ago, I was selling my apartment in Chelsea and moving to Soho. Now by the end of this summer, I'll be moving again. I love my place. It's gorgeous. But I'll start looking for a bigger space in the city this June.
You seem to spend a lot of time in Paris. Which do you prefer: Paris or New York?
I love New York one hundred times over.
So, you truly are American.
I don't think of New York as being "America." It's the center of the world! It's the coolest, hippest place with the most open, liberal people who are the youngest at heart. There is the most positive, supportive, free-spirited energy here. There is no other feeling like it in any other city in the world.
Where do you see yourself in the next ten years?
I hope to be in New York with a part-time home in Italy, maybe Tuscany. I love Italy! Hopefully by then my Italian will be fluent. And I hope to be directing feature films and doing a commercial here and there, working on art books and exhibitions and campaigns with a little magazine work in between. I just want to be creative and also have time to enjoy life. And I want to worry less about my career and just go with what comes my way.
My Style is: It is personal to what I am into at a certain moment. Whether it is skin texture, a certain type of light or a certain mood or ambience. I like to sense an intimate contact and bring out the sensual side of a woman.
Know for: Skin quality, sensuality, expression and energy.
Favorite Beauty Trend: I love makeup but not when it is overdone. When there is one beautiful detail on the face. Colours a little less expected, like orange. I always love bright lipstick.
Edit clients: Bon, French Elle, i-D
Advertising clients: Guerlain, L'oreal, Tag Heuer