Text by ALICE B. MILLER • Images by CAESAR LIMA
There's a singularly captivating look to Caesar Lima's images.
It comes from being built with bold colors, dramatic lighting,
selective focus, and, frequently, an other-worldly back glow, seen
emanating from select still life and people images.
These high-impact shots have what a lofty roster of prestigious
global clients—Pioneer, Sebastian, Capitol Records, Yamaha,
and Sony Pictures among them—know as the Lima Look.
This merging of digital photography and computer technology
powers Caesar's creativity—and his inventory. "It's amazing,
right now I have more money invested in computers than cameras," he
said. "They've changed the whole business.
"I started playing with digital photography years ago. I like
trying new tools to discover what can be done with them. The
digital system I feel most comfortable with today is the Fuji Luma
II digital back on the Fujifilm GX680III. It's awesome! If I could
shoot digital with my Fuji 6x8 full frame 1:1 that would be
His digital tool chest also boasts a Nikon D1, a Fuji S2, and a
Photophase. "I have a PG 4000, where I proof my shots—amazing
color on real photo paper. Clients can't believe when I give them
an 11x17 proof five minutes after the shoot!"
This self-proclaimed "Macintosh freak" runs his Los Angeles
studio, Caesar Photo Design, almost exclusively on Mac
"A lot of people are not into digital yet. I call them
Photosaurs. Digital backs, computers, and digital printers are
changing the way we do business. It's evolution. There's no turning
back. Even if you start shooting digital today, you're at least a
couple of years behind. We're imagemakers. We need to embrace
technology as much as we can."
It's no surprise that Lima's digital workflow keeps his studio
humming at top efficiency.
"The only thing we send out is E6 film processing; we even scan in-house." A large chunk of his time is devoted to Photoshop. "I work four to five hours on it everyday!"
While outputting most images in digital format these days, Lima still uses film for many shoots. And, for the record, he still captures the same way he did in his film days. "Vision is the most important thing. You don't change the way you see just because you're shooting digital."
Lima is in the home stretch of an exhilarating project: Atleta,
a book about athletes, set for publication in July 2003. "I shot
the entire book in black & white film and developed all the
photos in a traditional darkroom. I have a couple of publishers
interested, but I'll probably pick Rizzoli."
A book about musicians is also in the works. "I've shot and
directed six spots already. And I'd really like to shoot a film
short by the end of 2003. We'll see. . ."
The studio's promotional efforts are orchestrated under Lima's watchful eye. "I do all the marketing, it's crucial. I know it better than anybody." They advertise heavily in different photographer directories every year, and produce an 'Idea Book' once a year.
Many Macs ago, this Brazilian-born photographer left behind a
lucrative camera and photography business in Sao Paulo, determined
to make his mark in L.A. Setting up shop in a garage, Lima
developed a steady freelance business. Eventually, his creative
horizons outpaced the place four walls that had been his proving
That same passion drives him today. "The other day I received a
call from the CEO of Red Robin restaurants," said Lima. "He was
amazed with my website, and told me he wanted to do some work with
me. I was surprised. When I told him I didn't have any food shot
samples on my site he said that's why he was calling me! He wanted
something fresh, not your typical hamburger shot! The shoot was a
success, they loved it!"