INTERVIEW: Photographer Claudio Edinger on the art of branding LATAM

An airline helps us to find our place, helps us to focus and understand who we are. And, by taking us to places away from our comfort zones, at the same time expands our own concept of identity.

Claudio Edinger’s images imprint themselves on your mind: The photographs are charged with presence—not just of the people and places he captures, but also of their observer. His selective focus, a signature technique, draws audiences into conversation with his work. Some of his most memorable images capture iconic scenes like New York City bohemé, the Chelsea Hotel, and L.A.’s  bawdy Venice Beach, both in the late 70s and early 80s. He dives deep into emotionally fraught spaces—like the annals of an insane asylum—and travels the world exploring the hearts of great cities and capturing the soul of each place that he shoots.

It’s fitting that LATAM sought out the Brazilian-born artist to help create a brand that would become instantly memorable. Evolving from the merger between LAN and TAM, the new LATAM Group set about building a visual identity that would define the new airline while drawing on both brands’ Latin American roots. Edinger, for his part, maintains strong personal and artistic connections to the region—and to travel. Born in Rio de Janeiro, he launched his photographic career in São Paulo in 1975, and has spent decades exploring the world through his lens. In 2000, he returned to Brazil to work on an ongoing photo essay, beginning with Rio, a black and white study of his home city, published in 2003.

Claudio-Edinger-photo_Santiago

 

For Edinger, the photographs for LATAM are part of this personal essay—and it’s work that he’s particularly proud of. The branding project (his first) took him to locations in Brazil, Argentina, Chile, Peru, Colombia, Uruguay, and Ecuador. The work is distinctly Edinger’s—fine art that transcends mere travel ads. There are no glamorous metropoles or too-bright beachscapes, strewn with grinning vacationers. Each photograph offers a breathtaking yet intimate, birdseye view into some corner of Latin America, framed in a way that literally compels the viewer to explore the scene.

The photos that were selected by Interbrand São Paulo’s Creative Director, Sergio Cury,  represent the spirit of the new LATAM—complementing the logo, livery design, and experiences around which Interbrand developed the new identity. We were privileged not only to collaborate Edinger, but to talk to him about his recent work on the project. Edinger provides fascinating insight into how artists and brands can benefit from working together—both building stronger connections to people and a deeper understanding of themselves.

Claudio-Edinger-photo-Machu-Picchu

How did you get involved with LATAM? Have you done branding work like this before?

They contacted me—I am very much involved with fine art work, producing work that interests me and selling to collectors through three different galleries in Brazil. I have never done anything like this before.

How do you manage to marry fine art and branding? Do you experience the same creative freedom in this context as you do in your other work?

There was a moment when both needs—LATAM’s and my own—converged. For the last twenty years, I have been developing a personal narrative that focuses on the meaning of identity. For twenty years I lived and worked in New York City. After such a long time away from home, my work has centered around the search for what it means to be Brazilian. Photographing Latin America has expanded my search in a wonderful way. I’ve found that our neighbors also help determine who we are.

Much of your photography explores the connections between people and place. Is there something about this connection that is important to telling LATAM’s brand’s story?

I believe an airline does just that: keeps connecting us to places—these places determine who we actually are. In a way, an airline is like the blood flowing through the veins of the world, that keep the body— the planet—alive and in constant evolution.

Claudio-Edinger-photo_Cartagena

Does your selective focus take on certain symbolism or meaning in the context of these two brands coming together?

Most people do not realize it, but selective focus is how we actually see things. Reading this text, you focus on words and place, without making any effort, everything else out of focus. We see everything in focus and out of focus at the same time—that’s the paradox of seeing. An airline helps us to find our place, helps us to focus and understand who we are. And, by taking us to places away from our comfort zones, at the same time expands our own concept of identity.

What was your working relationship with the Interbrand team on the project?

I collaborated with Sergio Cury [Creative Director, Interbrand São Paulo], and it was a fantastic experience working with him. He understands very much what I do, and just by his choices of images to present to LATAM, one appreciates how visually sophisticated he is.

What were the major creative challenges of this project? What was the most enjoyable aspect for you?

Photographing places that have been photographed so many times before, with fresh eyes and a fresh approach. This is what interests me: the endless possibilities of photographing well-known places. It is very enjoyable discovering the magic of photography in action and the infinite visual possibilities of all places.

As someone inspired by avid travel, how would you describe the connections that people have with airline brands?

Airlines can make or ruin your trip.

It seems that brands are working harder than ever to connect with people in the real world. Do you think that artists can help them do that more effectively—and more authentically?

Yes. Artists look for answers. They aim to raise important questions about who we are. They are in constant motion and this reflects on their work. Just like airlines, they are in constant flux. We have a lot in common. We love to fly, in all directions. Breaking all rules—I especially enjoy defying the law of gravity.


For more on the creative strategy behind LATAM’s launch, check out our LATAM Case Study.

Claudio-Endinger-LATAM-photo_Bariloche

Contributors