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Who is Carlo Calope?
July 20, 2016
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Carlo, it seems, is thoroughly entrenched in the going-ons of Sid Lee Toronto. Enter 36 Distillery Lane and head to the 2nd floor. there you’ll find him sitting behind 5 monitors, some small, some large, each with something different displayed.[No text in field]

Carlo, it seems, is thoroughly entrenched in the going-ons of Sid Lee Toronto. Enter 36 Distillery Lane and head to the 2nd floor. There you’ll find him sitting behind 5 monitors, some small, some large, each with something different displayed. Behind him are magazine cut-outs; high fashion photographs of models in ornate clothing. His workspace is cluttered but not disorganized. This is his own little slice of home away from home and it’s distinctly “Carlo.”

He’s our IT guy (if the mass of monitors didn’t give it away) and he, together with his partner, David, help keep Sid Lee Toronto from bursting into flames. However, rebooting systems, lugging computer towers up to The Fifth and blessing plebs with general tech wizardry are only things he does during the day. His pursuits outside of work are where his true passions lay. Out in the wild you’re likely to find him with a model, camera in hand, shooting photographs of stunning quality. He is, after all, one of the top fashion and portrait photographers in Toronto, and, while he hasn’t quite turned it into a full-time career, he is well on his way. And like many who have found success, he didn’t get here by chance.

Growing up he enjoyed the little things in life; doodling, daydreaming, and playing outside. When asked about his parents, he looks thoughtful, remembering “they were always planning. They were so practical. They always seemed to plan for the worst. Always having a plan B.” He admits that his parents were so worried about the what-if’s that they usually lost focus on things that truly mattered. This pessimistic outlook would later influence his own attitude towards life. He admits that the anxiety of undesirable outcomes really held him back as he grew. “Instead of reaching for the stars, I was content with reaching for the sky.” But this fear was soon to be challenged. “There was a point where my ex-girlfriend’s mom just looked at me and basically told me I shouldn’t be so worried all the time.” This conversation provided a moment of clarity and understanding for Carlo: he was going to be bolder. Once that was decided, he never looked back. After so many years of treading lightly, pursuing what he wanted was suddenly the most important thing in his life.

He names his inspirations the likes of Sarah Moon and Paolo Roversi, photographers producing stunning images in their own right. But he also names artists like Gustav Klimt and Marc Chagall, Modernist and Symbolist painters known for their unique visual styles and perspectives. You can see touches of their influence in his own practice, subtle hints of their visions that creep into his photographs and add new depth. Despite this, Carlo’s work stands alone, unique in its own regard. You can tell he’s passionate about his work, especially when he speaks about his dream project. “A photo story with ballerinas. Chalk dust. Lots of tulle fabric. Mirrors. All photographed in King Edward’s Crystal Ballroom.” (Definitely look it up). But the beauty he creates does not protect him from disappointment. Failure and rejection also play a big role in what he does. “Rejection is crucial. It motivates your soul or it acts as a wake up call to question yourself if you really ARE passionate about what you’re doing.” Harsh truths are never easy to hear but, while they cut at you, they also begin to shape you.

And now, here he is. One foot in advertising, and the other in photography. His crowning achievement thus far is shooting for The Room at Hudson's Bay. Being 1 of 20 hand-picked photographers brought in to shoot their high fashion line was huge for him and his career. “I printed out the email the day it came in,” he laughs. “I still have it today.” But despite this, he doesn’t fall into the trap of thinking he’s done growing and learning. Video blogging is the next thing he’d like to try and conquer. “A friend of mine said I’m animated. That I’d make a good video blog personality.” It’s a wonderful compliment, but he doesn’t let it fool him into thinking he will be an instant success. “When it’s just you and the camera, things get weird. You start to get self-conscious.” He chuckles. “Being good behind the camera doesn’t make you awesome in front of it.” Luckily for us, he says he does have footage in the bag and a video project is definitely in the works.

With so much going on, who knows what the future holds for Carlo Calope. There is only one thing that’s certain: he will make you fall in love.

Written by Ian Maracle

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