TEXT BY ALICE B. MILLER • IMAGES BY PAUL ARESU
Seemingly every Fortune 500 company has hit Paul Aresu's client
roster. Perhaps you've heard of them: American Express, Burger
King, Citibank, Foot Locker, IBM, Kodak, Lucent, Moet &
Chandon, Nike, Pepsi, Reebok, Snapple, Verizon, to name a
Art directors and marketing managers know Aresu's high-voltage ads have a magnetic effect on consumers. His images frequently net vigorous sales gains for their corporate clients. In fact, after a year-long ad campaign for one client, the company reported a 50 percent rise in sales.
"Most magic moments in life are expressed photographically with energy," says Aresu. "I create lots of images at a shoot, almost like I'm telling a story through them. The art director always go home with a lot of different takes."
And then there are those color-flooded, high-octane images.
"Color is part of the energy package," he explains. "I choose vibrant colors to start with and then do cross processing, which further intensifies the hues. My job is to figure out how best to convey what the client wants and to turn up—or down—the color and the energy level accordingly."
Determined to perfect his craft, Aresu finds the best way to do that is, naturally, by giving it his all. "Growth is an evolutionary process, a combination of past experiences, of influences that have come together. My quest is to create, to find ways through music, energy, hard work, and perseverance to bring the whole experience together."
A Big Production
The sepia-toned embrace gracing SP&D's cover this month was created by Aresu for an ad agency representing an antidepressant-drug manufacturer. Shot on a gorgeous mid-summer day out on Long Island's Jones Beach—which Aresu loves "for its big, endless sky uninterrupted by trees or mountains"—this was a big production in every sense of the word. It drew two top-of-the-line models, stylists, makeup artists, in addition to Aresu's production crew.
"The challenge, as always, is to inspire the crew to share your vision," Aresu explains. "There's a great deal of preproduction work required to make things happen before we even begin to shoot. By the time we're actually shooting, we're just about on autopilot.
"I rely a great deal on my business partner and rep Barry Goldring for his good judgment and taste; digital artist Ryan Jacobsen, for his exquisite skill and easy temperament; my studio manager Tamara Staples, for her people skills and management smarts; and my assistant Christopher Fragapane, for his invaluable perspective and energy.
Explorer of Light
And since it was slightly overcast on the day of the beach shoot and the client wanted a shallow depth of field, Aresu went with a slow exposure and a neutral density filter.
"We captured the mood we were going for—a carefree, intimate moment. It's hard to miss with a perfect backdrop, the best equipment, and great models."
To loosen up the models, help them feel relaxed, Aresu finds a way to communicate with them. "Asking gentle questions, discussing the shoot location, finding some familiar ground, you get so much more from them. You've got to make that connection. I find that if I make fun of myself—I can be really goofy—they love it. It's all about making that connection.
"For that embrace shot, we came in pretty close on the models, yet allowed them the freedom to express joy and happiness in their way."