Formento+Formento are what you’d call a ‘power couple’; not merely in the romantic sense, but in terms of the photographic arts. Since their holy union in 2005, Richeille and BJ have combined their respective aesthetic ingenuity to become the dynamic photographer duo they are today. “BJ is the light, Richeille the pigment.” says their online portfolio, but both are 100% style.
Richeille and BJ met through their work, Richeille as an art director, BJ as a photographer, but truth be told since their two lives became one, so too did their disciplines. Richeille can spend hours behind the camera while BJ works on styling and mood, and they’re just as comfortable the other way around - learning from each other, and getting inspired through an harmonious unity that transcends just their 14 years of marriage.
BJ was introduced to photography at an early age by his father. Growing up in the Philippines, he moved to California at the age of 14 to pursue Fine Art photography, but, as with partner Richeille, found that it was commercial photography which : the bills. Richeille came from stock and fashion photography backgrounds, but both found their true calling when they met. Richeille decided to move further towards Fine Art, utilising her long-time inspirations David Bowie, 40s Swing, pre-Raphaelite paintings and Bauhaus architecture, a veritable smorgasbord of strong iconography and styles.
BJ, now with Richeille’s long-established commercial expertise and eye for fashion on his side, was able to ditch the commercial photography in favour of his Fine Art passion. And Formento+Formento was born. Today they’re travelling around the globe, receiving high acclaim for solo shows in Miami, Paris, New York and Shanghai, and working to bring the glamorous heroines and vintage worlds of their photographs to new and distant lands.
Their fascinating fictions, the scenes in their photographs, may be make believe but they also hold a lot of truth and tell great stories about the American woman in modern and retro societies. 2012 saw the publication of their first book, a coffee table classic five years on.
GM Your profession?
BJ Photographer and Director
Richeille Art director and Stylist
GM Which year were you born in?
GM Where did you grow up?
BJ Philippines, and then California
Richeille East end of London
GM Who gave you your name? Does your name have any special meaning?
BJ You need to buy me a few drinks first.
Richeille As far as I have been told, my name is my father’s and mother’s names put together. I also spelt it wrong all my life until I applied for a passport and finally saw my birth certificate! I continue to spell it the wrong way!
GM What is your favorite music?
BJ Folk Rock
Richeille I love old classics, depending on my mood and project. 1940s for swing and jazz, 1970s for Motown and funk, late 70s and early 80s for alternative and new wave. I have been a lifelong fan of David Bowie, his alternative vision on the world and creative processes continue to inspire me.
GM What is the most inspiring artwork for you?
BJ I do love Hieronymus Bosch’s deep insight into humanity's desires and deepest fears. I also like the way Jeff Wall’s staged photographs refer to the history of art and philosophical problems of representation. Another inspiring form of art is Philip Lorca-Dicorcia’s carefully planned staging, as he takes everyday occurrences beyond the realm of banality, inspire in his picture's spectators an awareness of the psychology and emotion contained in real-life situations.
Richeille I have always been drawn to the romanticism of Pre-Raphaelite paintings and their depiction of simple, rather than grand, subjects with a serious and moralistic theme. The use of white to give luminosity and symbolism was very important. Ophelia resonates with me, I remember it well from childhood visits to the Tate gallery. In contrast, I am inspired by the cleanliness of the Bauhaus movement, the simplicity and graphic nature led me to study Graphic design and gave me a critical eye of lines and composition, I think a combination of the two schools could represent my ideal world.
GM What is your favourite number and why?
BJ As well as representing the day I was born, 6-2-9 are my lucky roulette numbers.
Richeille It has always been 3, though nowadays I also like 8 because the number itself is like two threes mirroring each other, perhaps in my mind it represents two people facing.