Hermeilio Miguel Aquino is a professional actor with plays at the Old Vic, Donmar, West End, Broadway and a few TV parts under his belt, but it was the up and down life of an actor that turned him into a bit of a polymath.
“I wanted to learn another creative skill that would allow me to continue acting, so I picked up photography and directing,” explains Aquino aka KINO, “And for some reason, the photography has really helped me create a lot of the visual images I want to accomplish. I’m very happy I make a living doing acting, photography and directing. If it was not for the photography I wouldn’t get a chance to direct a commercial for Lenovo.”
Originally from the USA, KINO’s route to London was an unusual one, “I was not expecting to move to London. I was studying acting and film directing at Columbia College in Chicago, and I saw a study abroad program in Russia. I was fascinated with Stanislavksi work at the time and I thought it will give me the missing link I needed to master the craft of acting.
“I applied got accepted and then the following month I was on a plane to St. Petersburg. St. Petersburg is very European, the night life was in insane, everything about that city I loved. After months of running around, studying acting and filmmaking, I packed my bags to head back Chicago. Once I got there I realized – man, I need to move to Europe.
“I saw an acting program at Central St. Martins School of Art & Design and for some reason I said – let’s go for it. I got accepted and within weeks I was on a plane to London. I’ve been living in London for 13 years on and off. I met my wife in New York, Robyn – she’s a Jazz singer and photo retoucher – turns out she’s from Surrey and she basically told me ‘let’s move to London’ and I was like why not!”
“When I was a child I wanted to be a scientist, I love technical stuff. In a way photography is very technical. It’s so technical – I honestly think photography is 98 percent technique and the two percent is being creative. My career path, I don’t know if I really have one. I know what I want to do and I just do it – even if it sucks, I will do it anyway because I will learn from my mistake. At the moment I’m concentrating a lot of my time on photography and creating editorials and writing.”
KINO is currently writing a spec screenplay for a literary agency, and also working with his wife on a beauty editorial, “Robyn is an awesome retoucher; my photography has massively improved because she tells me what not to do.”
As for the tools of his trade, “I shoot with a Nikon 800E, Prime lenses, my trusty 24-70 2.8 Nikon lenses, my laptop and Bowen studio lighting flashes. I shoot a lot at West London studio. Andrea and Francisco, the studio owners, have been really guiding me to learn everything about studio lighting and become a good photographer. Without them I wouldn’t be half as good.”
“The commercial I directed for Lenovo was such a great experience. I teamed up with Sofluence Agency – they are a very talented creative agency that also represents top influencers around the world. Everything I envisioned happened. It was a challenge of course, but we managed to create something that we are proud of.
“Because I’m also a photographer I was able to do the lighting and guide the camera operator to the aesthetic we all wanted to achieve. We shot it on a red camera, it was five days of shooting and 4 days of post production. We managed to get 900,000 views and the client is very happy.”
A very special career highlight was acting at the Donmar Warehouse, “It’s such an intimate space, and I was acting with amazing actors that I admire. I learned a lot about myself as an actor. Before you have doubts, but when you are a put into a very challenging position and you achieve it you realize anything is possible.”
KINO is inspired by every image he sees on Instagram, “even the bad ones. But if I have to pin down on a creator I would have to say the team behind Blade Runner 2049. The director, Denis Villeneuve, and his team absolutely blew my mind. It just reminded me why I want to create visuals and why I want to tell stories.”
And there’s a few exciting things in the pipeline, “At the moment I’m writing a spec screenplay for an agency I hope I can direct, and I’m also working with a few clients – I also work as a photographer and lighting technician at a West London studio and we paired up together and launched a production company. We hope this will take us to the next level and produce stunning images and commercials for our clients.”
For more of KINO’s photography, check out kinography.co.uk