Monday, 14 January 2019

The Joys and Pain of Simple Photography

I received a phone call yesterday from a former colleague, who having spotted a typo on one of my blog posts. Had decided to do me a turn of kindness and let me know. Which I appreciated very much. I think it was also a good excuse to give me a call and chat about how the Industry is going. I was praised for my uncompromising commitment to photography; though I assured my friend I had compromised a lot in my time. As we discussed jobs from the past and diminishing fees, I was told about a former client of years of theirs, who had eventually asked them if they could; "just set up the lights" so they could do the shots themselves. We weren't using face-time but I'm sure my eyes rolling into the back of my head were clearly visible at the other end. Or maybe it was a groan I let slip, certainly not a gasp.. "I made it look too simple" my colleague continued. And indeed I think they had. There is a point in every good photographers life; when no matter what you are looking at; they have made what they did look simple, too simple. And people start to believe it really was. Sometimes, what they have done actually was simple - it's just it has taken years of experience to be able to see, feel, and deliver that simplicity. I like this shot below. It's a branding shot from the end of an eCommerce/Lookbook shoot. And it is simplicity itself. Just stand the model in the light (*details below). When did I learn how to pull off simplicity? To simply ask the model, any model to just slink back against the wall, and then for me to pull off the shot? It wasn't always that way! After all it's one of the most ridiculous things in the world, this wall leaning pose.. and in the wrong hands looks as unnatural as it really is.
Good model, check. Fabulous garments and styling - check. Team - check. Years of experience.. Check check check!
A branding fashion shot made in natural light from an eCommerce fashion shoot. Photographed in Sydney by Kent Johnson for BUthelabel.
I like this shot. And it is really, truly, a natural shot. I know enough about what is happening with the light and the camera on a technical front, so it does not interfere with the subject and the mood of the model. I've got lovely garments that I have a feeling for along with the scene before my eyes. And I have a cooperative team, and a wonderful experienced and beautiful Danish model, whom if I remember correctly; I even asked If I could just toss her hair a little; to lift the shot (sometimes its easier to do it yourself).. So I like this shot - but even we ended up overthinking it; bringing in a large light to soften the shadow on the next look. But that was OK as it gave us a nice variation on the shadow theme which was/is a key feature of the branding shots over the plain white background lookbook pictures. I often say to people that simple is the most difficult of all - it certainly almost always involves a lot more than the eye sees and what is perceived. And that's good; because the power of simplicity is that it just looks beautiful when you see it, and when you see it, you don't have to think about anything else at all.

*Don't overexpose the highlights, sun on white linen, black silk top; don't let shadow fall on wrong part of face; is shadow too dark(?) keep the feeling carefree and natural. Which after 3 hours of continuous modelling, shooting and outfit changes is no small thing - here we are, come on everyone, it's nearly done and  it's almost time to go home.

Book Me..
Kent Johnson, Sydney, Australia.
0433 796 863

Thursday, 27 December 2018

Teo - Studio Modelling Portfolio from Sydney to L.A.

It's curious how often I am booked for portfolios for (soon to be) models who are in Sydney yet planning on starting their modelling career overseas. They are often from overseas already - I will simply put it down to my work looking less trend driven and more of a classic, international fashion and model photography style. And I think its fair to say when you look at my model portfolio shots, you really SEE the model. You don't look at these shots and wonder what this model looks like - you KNOW what this model looks like. This is essential when you are starting out in fashion; potential clients want to know what you look like; it's how you get the call up, the go-see, the call back - because they like the way you look, and can see what you can do for their project. In fashion, image is everything.
Teodora Tissue modelling portfolio for iPop Los Angeles  photographed in Sydney, Australia by Kent Johnson.
Teo was scouted a few years back at a shopping centre back in the States. Her parents who are both from the USA, working here in Sydney Australia decided to give Teo and iPOP a shot. Which is where I came in, with a fairly specific portfolio brief to shoot. Those requirements were quite simply the classic requirements that are the basis of all my 'getting started' portfolio shoots. A great headshot. Full length for legs and body, how you look shots, you know, how tall do you look! Fitness shots, casual and classic. And for this shoot we needed a comp card too; that's a part of my studio package already so all good! We also got some fab personality shots full of Teo's great energy, and ended up with what I call the good problem - too many terrific shots, more pictures than we could use. So some of them are appearing here for the first time along with the comp card and shots from Teo's final selection. I hope you enjoy them, and of course, if you need a portfolio, follow the links for details and hit me up!
 Headshot in black hat - out-take - Photographed in Sydney by Kent Johnson
 Studio fun, a Zoolander moment. Modelling portfolio photoshoot - Photographed in Sydney by Kent Johnson
 A classic smiling headshot for Teo's modelling portfolio. Photographed in Sydney by Kent Johnson
A positive energy filled activewear body shoot for a modelling portfolio.  Photographed in Sydney by Kent Johnson
Black and white triptych, model in daylight studio.  Photographed in Sydney by Kent Johnson
 Casual black and white photograph of the model in the studio, daylight, black background - studio as location. Photographed in Sydney by Kent Johnson
Seated full length black and white photograph of the model in the studio, daylight, black background. Photographed in Sydney by Kent Johnson
Seated mid shot portrait, black and white photograph of the model in the studio, daylight, black background. Photographed in Sydney by Kent Johnson
Beautiful tight headshot in pastel colours for a modelling comp card. Photographed in Sydney by Kent Johnson
Back of model comp card with four photographs from the one portfolio photoshoot. Photographed in Sydney by Kent Johnson
Beautiful midshot in pastel colours for a modelling portfolio. Photographed in Sydney by Kent Johnson
Colour shot, model in tube top and blue jeans, white background in the studio. Photographed in Sydney by Kent Johnson
Casual modelling portfolio lifestyle shot. Photographed in Sydney by Kent Johnson
Full length body shot in streetwear for a modelling portfolio. Photographed in Sydney by Kent Johnson
Studio model headshot photographed in Sydney by Kent Johnson.
From Teo's mum Sandra.
"Kent was fabulous! I took my daughter for her first fashion photoshoot and Kent made her feel confident and glamorous. He also held my hand throughout the process of picking the best photos, because we had so many great shots, it was hard to choose!. The photos were just amazing. This was a great experience for both of us. The stylist and hair and make-up ladies that Kent brought, Vivienne and Cynthia, were also great. Thanks, Kent!"
Black and white photograph of Teo seated in activewear - from the first look, first frames of her first photoshoot.  Photographed in Sydney by Kent Johnson

Drum roll please - Congratulations Teo on winning 2018 Model of the Year at iPOP L.A.!
www.kentjohnsonphotography.com.au/09Modelling/ModellingPortfolios.htm

Photographer - Kent Johnson
Model - Teo
Hair and Make-Up - Maria Cynthia
Stylist - Vivenne Shui - vivalaviv.com/
Read more reviews on my Kent Johnson Photography Facebook Page HERE.

Telling Stories in Pictures all over the world..
Kent Johnson, Sydney, Australia.
0433 796 863

Sunday, 9 September 2018

Shooting on Location - Duomo, Milan - White Caviar Life

I'm back in Europe on assignment shooting for White Caviar Life, this time including an Instagram collaboration with Sydney designer by Freer. I'm a little embarrassed to say this is my first time in Italy and of course Milano. It's a fabulous city and of course arguably the fashion capital of the world - so very exciting! We have already put two shots from this shoot out there, you can check them out (slightly different version) on the White Caviar Life I.G. here. Stay tuned for more.. and even check out my 'down time' shots on Street Fashion Sydney - Italy Edition - here.
Viv manning the fashion barricades, Duomo, Milan for byfreer, whitecaviarlife first Italian collaboration. Photography by Kent Johnson.


Telling Stories in Pictures all over the world..
Kent Johnson, Sydney, Australia.
0433 796 863

Monday, 25 June 2018

Before You Press The Button

Before you press the button you should know what the subject should look like. And at the very least or perhaps in companion to before you press.. when you hit the editing desk you really really should know what you want the picture to look like.

I'm not even thinking about old school Ansel Adams visualisation of the subject. I'm talking - look at what you are looking at, what do you see, is it how you think it should look?

This may be at the heart of problem with people using the digital TV screen on the back of the phone/camera. What problem? The device shows what's there right. Well, er yes and well kind of no; and yes but.. Even though the screen shows what and more importantly how the scene will be rendered(ish) in 2D. The photographer - the person using the camera needs to have an understanding of what they are looking at and how the elements work together - on that front, even with digital, nothing has changed.

In that video in the link above Adams talks about that moment when he realised how he could take a picture the way he saw it, not just how it looked, how he could create a picture to tell the story of his vision (visualisation) of how it looked.
This is very important.

That is a landscape picture; but if you look at the contemporary landscape of fashion photography. You can see we are being swamped by pictures of a dress. But no understanding of how a dress looks at its best, no story, no vision. And while people may like the pictures with a, Thumbs Up or little Hearts. It doesn't mean they really love it. People love stories, they love something, with a photographers vision. If your pictures haven't got that, they have very little at all.

Telling Stories in Pictures all over the world..
Kent Johnson, Sydney, Australia.
0433 796 863

Friday, 22 June 2018

Photographing Men's Fashion On-Location in New York at Night

I loved shooting this capsule range in New York for local NY label Mario & Lee. We started the shoot on a penthouse terrace at The Roger Hotel (thank you White Caviar Life). Then headed over to the Empire State Building making shots at locations I had scouted over the previous days, informed by the behaviour of people I had noted too. I wanted that classic New York by night mood; but with a little more edge than the safer NYC of today.. Huge thanks to Mario&Lee our model Lionel Nichols and assistant Vivienne Shui.
Menswear photoshoot at at The Roger Hotel NYC in black and white for fashion label Mario&Lee. Photography by Kent Johnson.
Terrace balcony Manhattan - Menswear photoshoot at at The Roger Hotel NYC in black and white for fashion label Mario&Lee. Photography by Kent Johnson.
On dusk, penthouse terrace Manhattan, Empire State building in the background - Menswear photoshoot at at The Roger Hotel NYC for fashion label Mario&Lee. Photography by Kent Johnson.
Leaving the hotel, Mens fashion night photoshoot, chevron coat, photo in black and white. Photography by Kent Johnson.
Mens fashion night photoshoot, man's chevron coat with contrasting NY streetscape. Photography by Kent Johnson.
Night shot, man's chevron coat on the stree, mid shot. Image paired with amber ice on road. Menswear photographed in New York City by Kent Johnson.
Men's fashion photoshoot at night - Asymmetrical turtle neck, black leather overnight bag, photographed in a wash of red neon light at Empire State. Photography by Kent Johnson.
Asymmetrical turtle neck in red neon light at Empire State - image paired with a fashion parade crowd also in red light. Menswear photographed in New York City by Kent Johnson." alt="Asymmetrical turtle neck in red neon light at Empire State - image paired with a fashion parade crowd also in red light. Menswear photographed in New York City by Kent Johnson.
Mid shot - Men's fashion photoshoot at night - Asymmetrical turtle neck, black leather overnight bag, photographed in a wash of red neon light at Empire State NYC. Photography by Kent Johnson.
Longsleeve tee from the versed capsule collection, street scene with road steam and neon signs. Image paired with NY fire stairs and Korean signage. Menswear photographed in New York City by Kent Johnson.

Longsleeve tee from the versed capsule collection, street scene with road steam and neon signs, NYC Yellow Cab. Menswear photographed in New York City by Kent Johnson.

Photographed on location in New York City
Photography and Art Direction by Kent Johnson
Model Lionel Nichols
Label Mario&Lee
Photography assistant Vivienne Shui

Special thanks to White Caviar Life.

Telling Stories in Pictures all over the world..
Kent Johnson, Sydney, Australia.
0433 796 863

Wednesday, 6 June 2018

Have you ever wondered what a Photographer brings to a Photoshoot?

Have you have ever wondered what a photographer brings to the shoot (it's not just their camera).. The internet has great ways to see how different people/photographers approach their subjects - lets take one famous location - Pont Alexandre III, Paris - on Google Maps you can see hundreds of pictures of what everyone thought was a good shot of the spot. Then with an Image Search you can compare FASHION photographers ideas and techniques at the same location too! And I seem to have a few pictures in the results.. Nice!
Have you ever wondered what a Photographer brings to a Photoshoot? Day, fashion shoot on Pont Alexandre III, Paris by Kent Johnson

We did two shoots at Pont Alexandre III for White Caviar Life last June, a day shoot and an evening photoshoot. During the day, Vivienne said the bridge was the busiest she had ever seen it (more about that another time).

The process of seeing what different photographers do is easy - just click the two links below and scroll through the photos. Easy, informative and great fun too!
Have you ever wondered what a Photographer brings to a Photoshoot? Night, fashion shoot on Pont Alexandre III, Paris by Kent Johnson
See the whole Envy Green photoshoot here.

Google Maps pictures for - Pont Alexandre III

Google Images Search - Pont Alexandre III Fashion shoots

Special thanks to luxury travel and lifestyle website White Caviar Life!

Telling Stories in Pictures all over the world..
Kent Johnson, Sydney, Australia.
0433 796 863

Sunday, 20 May 2018

Model Testing - TFP - Magazine Submission - Work For Free - Which Is IT?

I recently resigned from some Facebook fashion groups "Last Minute SomethingOrOthers.." for a lot of reasons really. Partly as I seemed to be spending too much time checking-in on job ops to no avail.. Partly because questioning what people were asking for, or adding informed discussion; was seriously frowned upon (and the GIF warfare was intense). And partly because a lot of people there don't a have a clue what they are talking about, seem rather lazy and incapable of doing any research; but are always full of opinions. So I should be completely safe talking about some of the groups vexed questions here on my blog. Away from the hostile schoolyard these groups seem to have become.

So what has any of this preamble to do with the title of this blog post you ask? Well quite a bit actually as one of the most common requests on these pages mentioned above is to seek out talent to work with - for free. 

Which when you are just starting out as a model or a photographer or a hair and make-up artist is fine. Actually it's great! It has never been easier to get together with people to try to make some good work. On the other hand, it's never been easier for people in businesses who need work done that they used to pay for; to also join these groups and ask people to work for free, or contra or whatever.. It is a very strange time to be a photographer. Photography is more necessary than ever as almost everything revolves around the use of visual imagery; and yet it is now harder and harder to find clients with budgets that reflect the kind of work they are asking for; or clients that respect the creative nature of the work.  - Continues after the picture..
Black and White Headshot from a magazine submission editorial - The Girls Who Fell To Earth, by photographer Kent Johnson.

It is certainly true that you can gain some valuable experience as a photographer by working on photoshoots with 'real' clients. It's different to doing shoots with your own team on self directed projects (more on that shortly). But low budget jobs; or NO budget jobs for commercial usage are, in my experience (now there's a dirty Facebook concept) unlikely to allow you to produce any portfolio worthy imagery. And from what I see more and more, even small - meaning tiny - budgets (though thank you for actually having one) you probably won't be seeing eye-ball-stopping imagery from these small campaigns either. Which should be of concern to the client as well.

Back in the day - to use that now old hipster expression - photographers typically only shot for free when doing fashion tests, model tests, or portfolio building shoots for-themselves tests. In brief - a TEST is where people of a similar level of experience get together to produce pictures to build up their portfolios - everyone; Model, Make-Up, Stylist contributes and everyone gets something out of it. Hopefully! It's a kind of mutual lifting-up of one another. For this kind of photoshoot I have typically come up with a concept I wanted to shoot and often styled it myself (yes I'm an OK stylist; but not amammmazing..) This would be a smaller say three to five outfit/looks shoot.

Fashion model in a textured black dress with ruffled sleeves, photographed in moonscape location for a magazine submission editorial - The Girls Who Fell To Earth, by photographer Kent Johnson.

If the photoshoot is bigger than this; you are really shooting some sort of Editorial (or if it's for a commercial client it's called a campaign or look book). From this photographers point of view, even if you are OK as a stylist; you can't style and shoot; it's too much work; you will miss things. You will need a dedicated stylist and possibly even a stylists assistant. This shoot is essentially a huge Test; and is typically now going to be called a magazine submission; unpaid - submitted or not. It's worth keeping in mind that BITD - Back In The Day.. magazines commissioned these shoots and you were paid for them. Everyone complained how badly they were paid (it was not that bad) and now it looks like gold was falling from the heavens!!! Of course, the magazines needed great pictures to compete for readership; which meant they could charge more for the commercial advertising that paid for all the editorial. Being published really was special. If you were untried and new to the business, it meant editors were putting their reputation on the line for you if they booked you. Everyone's job depended on keeping and growing readership. Now people just buy *readership on IG.. or so I'm told.

If you are shooting a large number of looks for a business - for free!! They are not asking you to do this so you can become a better Photographer/Stylist/Hair&Make-Up. They are doing this to save money and they hope you don't fu#k up the job because they want to use your work to make money. To sell stuff with. This is why this kind of shoot is called a commercial job. (even if it's no job at all). Even though they are not paying you (or so little it hardly counts) they will want to have heavy input with the 'creative' direction of the shoot. Not surprising as they are not paying you for your creativity - they are not paying you at all! Really. These people will never pay you; even if the shoot is a success. The minute you mention money they will roll the dice again and look for a whole new team.
Model wearing a purple dress with wide sleeves, photographed in moonscape location for a magazine submission editorial - The Girls Who Fell To Earth, by photographer Kent Johnson.

Model Tests. I have saved what is perhaps the most complex situation of all for last. A fashion test or beauty test is of course, going to require a model and the best models are most likely going to be agency represented. Once I would have just said, "come from an agency" but now "represented" is the hot term..a bit like "published" though both are not very well understood. As a photographer an agency will either like you and your work (being liked the most important in general) and will let you test some models. Or they won't like you and say no. Most importantly, "No" and "Yes" are not set in stone and will change over time. So when one says "no" try another - and keep photographing the best and most-interesting looking people you can find in the meantime.. These tests are typically done by way of exchange to build books (portfolios) and do something new or creative - everyone working for free. But sometimes an agency wants a model shot by a particular photographer - it may be the style; it may be friendship - who knows? And for this shoot the photographer will be paid. I know models who say they have never paid for an agency test. But these things can sometimes be lost in the accounting. If you want to become a model (or to get some pretty-much guaranteed really good pictures). The simplest way to get a good result is to seek out a photographer who has a body of work, (a lot) of work you like; and ask them. They will quite likely want to be paid. As a guide; if the photographer is very experienced and you are not; it is not a test; it's a portfolio shoot, which is an editorial looking commercial photoshoot!

I am hoping this has been a positive and helpful article, which is entirely my intention. To share some critical thinking and my experience as a photographer. If you have any questions, please send me an email; or even better, ask the question in the comments below. Questions like - But what is TFP? (A: It's a test shoot by another name). I think there will be a part two of sorts to this article as the whole idea was to be about my Editorial Submission - The Girls Who Fell To Earth - from 2008! Recently re-edited and I think looking pretty fresh still. You can see the current version here - www.kentjohnsonphotography.com.au/09Fashion/Editorial.html

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*Readership; Followers are to social media what readership was and still is to magazines. Magazines are audited by independent bodies to confirm their readership numbers. The amount of money a magazine can aspire to charge for advertising is based on readership; and readership demographic. Hobo News can't sell adverting for the same amount as Up-Yours I'm Rich because; well hobos don't actually buy anything.. and getting you to buy something is exactly what advertising is supposed to do.

Blsack and white photograph of clouds and sky as part of a fashion photography series by Kent Johnson.

Model Testing - TFP - Magazine Submission - Work For Free - Which Is IT? An article by Sydney based fashion photographer Kent Johnson.
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Telling Stories in Pictures all over the world..
Kent Johnson, Sydney, Australia.
0433 796 863