At the age of 26, Dimitri Daniloff received a camera as a gift and became enamored and obsessed with photography. He has been immersed in its world ever since. While his work is often inspired by fantasy, he goes to great lengths to accomplish as much in-camera as possible. He relishes the opportunity to work with raw ideas and shape them piece by piece into reality. The DDA Collection brings his oeuvre into the world of NFTs during the First LTL Collection Drop. #SeasonZero
For over a decade, the award-winning photographer Dimitri Daniloff has been among the top 10 advertising photographers in the world. Around the Millenium, Dimitri Daniloff pioneered the switch from analog to digital. Some of the brands that bought his work are Absolut Vodka, Air France, Audi, Carlsberg, Land Rover, LG, Longchamp, Nike, and Sony Playstation.
Below is a list of the curated selection of 33 iconic images, by Dimitri Daniloff.
This image is from 2005, the third year of my shooting for PS. There are two versions of this image in existence. The image seen here with the black background is the official version. We were in an incredible house in the suburbs of Paris, designed by Mallet Stevens. I had the day (which was normal at the time) to shoot the image and therefore explore different options. So the first version I completed was with a window overlooking the countryside, then in the afternoon this second version. I used a large amount of flash to “turn off” the scenery behind the windows, hence the night effect on the scene.
This image is part of the 3rd season I shot for PS2, in 2005. I remember the day of the shoot very well. We were in a sort of abandoned castle one hour from Paris, in the middle of winter. We were freezing to death because there were no heaters. I spent the day shooting different scenes with the actors but I wasn’t completely satisfied. At the end of the day, I was looking at my assistant who wore a Mohawk at the time. So I said to myself, “I’m going to try a shot with him in the image” and replaced one of the actors that I found too “perfect”. I then asked my assistant to go shirtless. The room was 5°C and I promised him that I would take no more than a max of 5 photos with him. I took 4. I announced the end of the shoot. The image was perfect with him.
Image from 2005. It’s the 2nd version of this image that exists, the other being in front of black windows. This is the "director's cut" version. I discussed at length with the agency to know which would be the official version of these 2 images. I like this version because it confronts reality more clearly, with the landscape in the background, and a surreal universe with the characters in the foreground.
2nd year of my shooting for PS, 2004. Everything had started with a conflict with the agency as I absolutely wanted to create the image with this red tool box that for me was perfect for this character that needed to arrange his eyes, noses, mouths… in an orderly way. But the agency wanted to use a white table… right up until the moment I told them I wouldn’t take on the project unless I had the piece of furniture I wanted. The next step was to change the style a little in relation to the first year. I wanted something more raw, more natural than the first year. So the morning of the shoot, I woke up telling myself I would use only one flash that day, without a single accessory, not even a reflector bowl, while I had probably planned a list of lights with a dozen flashes and as many accessories if not more. Finally and such is often my routine, I spent my day shooting several scenes of images by changing the layout of the elements with the actor that was chosen for the role. And again not satisfied by the end of the day. So I asked the artistic director who was beside me if he would like to replace the actor, just as a test. He was perfect! In the end it’s him in the photograph.
This image was made in 2011, but it was never released. This is not an official image. It was never published because the regulations in France prohibit all praising of drugs in advertising, which seems normal to me for that matter. I shot this image in a castle that we previously emptied of all its furniture to adapt the decor to the atmosphere I was looking for. The shelves with all the jars on the left have been completely added in. It seems to me that the chandelier was not there either. I worked on the characters in small groups so that I could properly direct them before editing the image as a whole in post-production. I myself appear in the picture...
Cubism is one of my first series of images where I utilized 3D, created in 2008. It was part of a personal research task. I used 3D not as an element allowing the creation of realistic objects, which was not possible in a photo at the time, but as a means to construct the image. Using the principle of cubism, which consists of showing a face from different angles in the same composition, I first shot several images of my model to then project these different angles onto geometries in the 3D software and render an image. Therefore these images are truly 3D, and not photographs. The photos served as textures for the 3D. It’s a reinterpretation of cubism using contemporary tools. The images have been published but I don’t recall which ones.
This is an image from 2011 that I shot in LA for a department store chain. I really like this ad for both its natural and surreal side. It is the portrait of an abandoned video game giant. I had found this character, uncomfortable, tall, strong, and with this unusual body during the casting. He was perfect in his way of moving (yes even for a photo). I chose a place to take the photo where there is no bus stop, and I proposed to the decorator with whom I am working on this project to make one. I asked him to intentionally make it too small to constrain the actor’s work, hamper his body, and in this way accentuate his uncomfortable and giant side. Then, at the time of the shoot, the actor finds himself at a bus stop that is too small for him. It's perfect! All I had to do was enlarge the character and the bus stop in post-production to give it a realistic size and to give my actor the proportions of a giant.
This image is from 2008 and it is probably one of the most difficult I’ve had to do because part of it was shot in the studio and the other part was in the mountains. It was an ad for a chocolate bar. The base of the treadmill was a scale model that I had made and shot in the studio, as well as the snow groomer that appears in the lower part of the treadmill. The people in the bathtub were also shot in the studio. I shot the snowboarder in the mountains by spending a few hours lying in the snow, and the other elements were also shot in the mountains. I had to have my image clear in mind to shoot each element from the right perspective.
This series of 3 images created for Harvey Nichols in 2006 won multiple prizes including the Golden Lion at the Cannes Lions International Festival. Once again, having just spent my day shooting the 3 images in the location we had previously approved with my client, I was not completely satisfied with the results. I had an hour left before going into overtime. My client was happy but nonetheless, I offered to shoot 3 different versions in the remaining hour. As soon as I arrived that morning I had spotted some locations that seemed more interesting to me, but I had to respect my contract before doing what I wanted. I had time throughout the whole day to construct the images in my mind. I could see them so clearly that in the last hour I was able to make my 3 “director’s cut” versions. I don’t think I’ve ever shot so fast. The following days when I presented the selection of 3 previously approved versions and the 3 “director’s cut” versions, the choice was very easy. And my client was delighted with the surprise.
This 2004 Shocking image caused significant controversy. It was designed to raise awareness about the risks of unprotected sex. The scene is located in a bright Parisian bourgeois apartment. By toning down the image, instead of a dark obscured atmosphere, and by utilizing the daily environments of the target audience, I help people connect more easily to a world they know. The idea is to shock but not make people look away from the image: that’s what I’m attempting to accomplish by mixing these different elements of luxury and provocation. I had asked for the creation of a giant spider, simplified, to shoot all the interactions between the model and the beast’s “fur”. Then I also shot a taxidermied tarantula, using a macro lens, to capture every little detail of the texture and replace it on the model in post-production.
Image shot in 2004 and in reference to the movie “The Matrix”. But let's be clear. I've never shot Morpheus, or even a lookalike. The model didn't really look like the movie actor. He was "adjusted" in post-production. I even think the body of the character isn’t his because he didn’t fit in the clothes.
Image from 2007 and produced for a campaign against AIDS. For this image, I had called on a contemporary dance company whose work was partly centered on nudity. I made this choice for 2 reasons. The first reason is a very natural relationship to nudity, in order for them not to be embarrassed by contact, even if they were not naked for the shoot. And the second reason was the way of moving that I wanted to be very natural but also very elegant and controlled. I actually only had about twenty dancers for the shoot, so they were duplicated to fill the hourglass. The way to place themselves was different depending on whether they were at the top or bottom of the hourglass. A little anecdote, during the shoot, so as to not create a difference between the dancers and me and my producer, we undress. And it's right in the middle of this shoot, when I'm very scantily dressed, that my client arrives and my producer introduces me for the first time.
This 2004 Shocking image caused significant controversy. It was designed to raise awareness about the risks of unprotected sex. I decided to set the scene in a bright student’s room, seemingly from a “good family”, to reinforce that the risk is not restricted only to the middle of the night. Once again, the usage of a bright environment makes it possible to tone down the image, to better convey the message, and allow time for people to take in the scene. A dark ambiance combined with the scorpion would have created a sort of immediate radical disgust and would have been less effective at conveying the message. I had a human-sized resin scorpion made, simplified with no details, only covered in black paint so that each element would be separate. This allowed me to, for example, shoot the pressure points of the legs on the human body. Next, with the help of a macro lens, I shot a real taxidermied scorpion to replace and apply the texture to the resin model in post-production.
This image was shot in 2003 and won the Grand Prix at the Cannes Lions International Festival. I was on vacation when the agency requested I shoot this campaign, and I immediately returned to Paris to work on the project. The agency wanted a more realistic interpretation, in a hospital, while I thought a more stylized rendition would be fairer and more “acceptable”. So I took the image in that direction by using a simplified setting. The editing of the woman was inspired by that which was in style at the time, with shiny skin and hair that stuck together to add sensuality. You may also note that the woman is not visibly pregnant.
2nd year of my shooting for PS, 2004. I was leaving the decorator’s whom I frequently worked with at the time. He lived in a sort of boutique on the ground floor, where chaos reigned in his home with objects of every kind piled in every corner. It was in that moment I told myself I had to shoot my next PS campaign at his house. We’ll improvise everything, on the spot! Everything needed was there. It was a sort of challenge, shooting five images in one single space. For the molt lying on the ground, I even remember shooting slices of carpaccio to create the texture.
This image is part of the first PS campaign I shot in 2003. It won numerous awards including a Golden Lion at the Cannes Lions International Festival. It was also the cover of Archives magazine. This is probably the image that pushed me to go digital. Without a digital shoot, it would have been very complicated to manage this image, it would have been necessary to calibrate more than 30 negatives for the editing, and without the ability to see if there was a perspective error in real-time. So for this image, I first shot an empty supermarket with the main character. I then went to the studio where I reconstructed my perspective lines to arrange the characters and shot them in groups of 3. There are 110 people in the image, shot in one day, so I couldn't control the makeup for each of them. I therefore asked my hair/makeup team to exaggerate the features of each of them. Then each character was placed in the studio at the exact angle and position as would appear in the final image.
This image is from 2004, created for the magazine “Courrier International”. The message was to see things as they are. It’s a very technical image due to the close-up of the eye. I remember exactly what I used to create this peeling effect. I sent my assistant to pick up hard-boiled eggs from the kitchen of the studio where I worked. By peeling the hard-boiled eggs I got the exact texture I was looking for in my composition. So I shot a few photos of this texture to use in my final composition. Since the idea was shocking, I took the bias to treat the image in a “beautifying” way, with radiant skin to make the image more “acceptable”.
Image from 2003, made for the DA club in Paris. The difficulty of this image lies in the casting, finding the eye that will express terror. It’s quite difficult to control one’s eye so that it stays wide open, so a very expressive eye was required to achieve the final image. I think I had to shoot 2 or 3 people that day to have the best options possible during the final edit. Electroshocks in contact with water had then been shot, to create the light ripple effect on the eye. To make the composition more realistic, eyelashes pass over the arm.
Porcelaine Dolls is a series from 2007 that is part of my personal work. It’s a reflection on the fragility of our image, the image we construct of ourselves through the modifications that we give it. The images are presented in the form of a diptych associating a character with an object, to reinforce the object effect of the portrait. The series was published in Eyemazing magazine and one of the images was the cover. I used real porcelain dolls whose faces I broke to create the special effects.
I love this 2003 image for its simplicity and efficiency. The message is simple and clear. There is no assembly in this image. The tag was simply glued to the skin, as well as the small pieces of thread. A little makeup to redden the skin and voila! This image was made for a campaign against cancer.
This is an image shot in 2011 for an American department store chain. I shot this image in LA entirely in the studio. He's an inactive video game character, at home. I had called in an actor, despite the fact that he can’t be seen, because I wanted to explore body language so that the character conveys an emotion. I remember the preparation meeting with the decorator about 15 days before the shoot. I didn't want to end up with a new couch aged in a fake way, or with rental furniture for movies. So I asked the decorator to buy everything in the “used ads" by picking out what he found most "awful". I also asked him to buy pizzas that same day, and to keep them until the day of the shoot to ensure the realism of the mould. Everything is real in this picture, even the dirty laundry.
This is the first image I shot for PS in 2003. If I’m not mistaken it was shot with a 4x5 camera. It required a lot of setups because I used a simple medical school skeleton. Every element was shot separately, the hand, the skull, the revolver… to finally be assembled in post-production. Then the textures, probably marble, but I don’t recall exactly, were applied to the image to give it that aged look.
“Digital game” is a series that I shot around 2006 for Bon magazine. It’s a series in which I imagined the future of romantic relationships thanks to the intervention of new technologies in the digital age. Use of technologies that allow us to recreate touch or to generate shapes. With the interior designer, we had used very basic elements such as PVC pipes to create the basis of the decor because our budget was very tight.
This is one of my favorite series, I shot it in 2003 for the Style And The Family Tunes magazine. Shot in the 4x5 room, it’s a beauty series that required a lot of work. The concept was simple, shape the face like an illustration in 2D. For this, I first projected a hard light on the model’s face, and then the makeup artist was taking the shadows to rework and accentuate them. Then I shot the model in a very soft light to not interfere with the makeup. This image was the cover of the October 2003 issue.