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

Don't forget to Follow Me on Facebook to Stay in Touch!

*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

Wednesday, 9 May 2018

Vivienne in Lyon in Head On Portrait Prize.

I'm very please to be able to announce that my portrait 'Vivienne in Lyon' is a semi finalist in the 2018 Head On portrait prize (my third time being accepted). If you are in Sydney you can check it out at the Head On Festival hub at the Paddington Town Hall. Lots of great work and keeping pretty good company. The picture was made after about three weeks in France last year shooting for White Caviar Life; we are getting a little tired by then; and this is really a glimpse behind the glamour. I love the shot and I'm very glad to have decided on submitting to the competition and I'm chuffed at being part of the exhibition. Click the image to view larger.

Vivienne in Lyon, semi finalist in the 2018 Head On Portrait Prize.

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

Monday, 30 April 2018

An Age Positive Modelling Portfolio on Location - Sydney, Australia.

What is the difference between a portrait and a portfolio photoshoot? For me in many ways I proceed in much the same manner. Good light, a comfortable space to work, a relaxed atmosphere, these things are the same for both. The real difference is in the intended use for the pictures; and that makes for all the difference in the world. Where a personal portrait is to be viewed by you, friends and family, a commercial portfolio shoot on the other hand is meant to be viewed by a critical audience, casting and art directors, agents; people who are looking for an archetype for their products advertisement or video. That's quite a different audience!

I was very happy when Wendy (who is the wife of a friend) made contact about commissioning me to create a new portfolio for her. Wendy had modelled in her younger days and was going to give it a shot again and see how it goes. And basically that is the right idea; you just need to jump in and give it a go! So we spent the afternoon finding soft light in the shady parts of Nielsen Park to make this beautiful and engaging series of portfolio photographs.

Full length seated, smart casual photograph for an age positive modelling portfolio. Photography by Kent Johnson Sydney, Australia.

Wendy left this lovely review of out photoshoot on my Facebook page here - "The Photo shoot at Nielsen Park with Kent was great fun. The location was very nostalgic for me - I learned to swim there as a child and have continued to go back over the years. Having photos taken there brought back lovely memories for me and I felt at home right away. Kent's style is relaxed and engaging and he a fantastic and dedicated photographer so I knew I was going to get an excellent portfolio. I'm really happy with the photos - they are beautifully shot in soft light, very flattering for a 60 something aspiring model! Great work Kent."
A huge Marilyn Monroe smile from Wendy. Photography by Kent Johnson Sydney, Australia.
Seated on the rocks by the shoreline; an age positive modelling portfolio. Photography by Kent Johnson Sydney, Australia.
Black and white headshot - Photography by Kent Johnson Sydney, Australia.

An age positive fashion portrait at Nielsen Park. Photography by Kent Johnson Sydney, Australia.
Agency digitals as part of the portfolio package. Photography by Kent Johnson Sydney, Australia.
Cropped portfolio shot seated. Photography by Kent Johnson Sydney, Australia.
Age positive model portfolio, location headshot. Photography by Kent Johnson Sydney, Australia.

Considering creating your own age positive portfolio, please don't hesitate to contact me.

Telling Stories in Pictures all over the world..
Kent Johnson, Sydney, Australia.
0433 796 863
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Thursday, 29 March 2018

Photography - Fashion Campaigns and Look Books are Not the Same

I get the feeling that in 2018 a lot of fashion (& photography) is still getting short shrift as energies continue to be channelled into look books and IG-anything-goes pictures at the expense of strong and distinctive branding for fashion labels. When I was growing up, looking through the front section of a European or American edition of super fat copies of the VOGUEs of the world was where it was all at. The first chunk of the big magazines were packed solid with expensive and totally fabulous fashion campaigns. Then as now, fashion was an extremely competitive market and if you didn't have pictures to make your target audience - the people you wanted to be your customers swoon with desire - well the advertiser on the next page certainly would. These amazing campaigns (and they actually were amazing back when the word really meant... Amazing!) were not always so much centred on the fashion; as on the life and aspirations of that person the label was trying to seduce. And it was a seduction, no mistake about it. Astounding locations, impossibly beautiful models; clever studio sets and photography. Whatever it took to grab and HOLD your attention. That's what it was all about. And nothing about the art of seduction has changed!
Hero B&W Headshot of Victoria in top hat with black lace veil for a fashion campaign - photographed on location by Kent Johnson, Sydney, Australia.

This series of pictures were made for a client who was doing small ranges with small runs, and all made here in Australia. Which was very bold, expensive; and gave them a lot of control over the designs and manufacturing, and they were winning awards right from the start. Shardi the designer was also quite particular with her photography without having a large budget. So when we did finally shoot together it was exciting but also a little frustrating too. I have to say, that without a doubt; not only where her designs unique, her sense of styling and feel for the woman of her label were quite exceptional! As for myself; I can't help imagining just what we could have done with these images if the budget had been there. We had a united vision and I believe we really did have the shots. These pictures are all completely fresh edits, most of them never published before.

Fashion isn't selling clothes, it's selling a fantasy to sell the clothes, the make-up, the perfume. Maybe you can't have that million dollar life, but when you buy that dress, that outfit; you are transformed and you really do feel like a million dollars. I know I do! I think this is the true story of fashion. Not what the dress looks like in a scientific, perfect look book way. But the way the fashion makes you feel; which can't be told in a look book picture. Same with runway pictures from the fashion circus - these are still trade show events, the inspired idea yes - but not the wearing of the clothes, the real-unreal world of buying and wearing fashion. So my heart aches when I look online and don't see a life I want to live, nothing of a life I desire and aspire to. I just see clothes, not fashion. One rack one page, looking more or less - well almost exactly the same as the rest.. I no longer see any difference, or the glamour of fashion; but I haven't forgotten it and I certainly haven't forgotten how to photograph it. You don't necessarily need a huge budget.. the dream, my fashion dream is still alive.
Fashion campaign photography - A classic warm toned black and white fashion photograph of a model in a striped dress holding a rose - photographed on location by Kent Johnson, Sydney, Australia.

Fashion campaign photography - Victoria in top hat, tulle ankle 'socks' skirt and bustier; classic warm toned black and white fashion photograph - photographed on location by Kent Johnson, Sydney, Australia.
Taking our time to create the mood.

Looking like and angel in a red dress with stiff ruffle butterfly sleeve, black leatherette leg gators - photographed on location by Kent Johnson, Sydney, Australia.A folded blue ballon skirt dress with side points, front epaulettes with four brass buttons on the bodice - photographed in black and white on location by Kent Johnson, Sydney, Australia.
Shardi styling Victoria, fashion catalogue photoshoot on location, Sydney, Australia - photographed on location by Kent Johnson.
Shardi styling Victoria - on location, Sydney, Australia.
Mid shot B&W fashion photograph, leatherette and lace layered dress with short mutton sleeves and top hat - photographed on location by Kent Johnson, Sydney, Australia.
Fashion photography of a Bias detailed bodice with ruffled skirt dress, pull over leatherette sleeves, model reading a book while walking - photographed on location by Kent Johnson, Sydney, Australia.
Mid shot B&W photograph of Victoria wearing a leatherette bodice dress with layered two tone lace skirt and top hat - photographed on location by Kent Johnson, Sydney, Australia.A fashion camapign headshot of Victoria looking back like and angel in a red dress with stiff ruffle butterfly sleeve - fashion photograph on location by Kent Johnson, Sydney, Australia.
Like what you see? Drop me a line to talk about your next fashion photography project - Call Kent on 0433 796 863 or Email kent@artcommunication.com.au
Fashion Campaigns and Look Books are not the same. "When I was growing up, looking through the front section of a European or American edition of super fat copies of the VOGUEs of the world was where it was all at. The first chunk of the big magazines were packed solid with expensive and totally fabulous fashion campaigns. Then as now, fashion was an extremely competitive.."
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Telling Stories in Pictures all over the world..
Kent Johnson, Sydney, Australia.
0433 796 863

Saturday, 10 February 2018

Let's Make Photography Great Again!

One of the key things that has changed with photographing since the introduction of digital-photography that has taken hold - is the ease of getting an image out-of the camera. People with an 'eye' can look at their on-trend mood-board and copy a shot. Or at least try to copy a shot and still get some kind of facsimile. This ease of "you press the button the camera does the rest" you just didn't see how far did you KODAK; has lead to a lot more people making pictures. Or perhaps to split hairs - taking pictures - as the end product, the picture is immediately visible.

But this mood-board - copyist approach to photography has left out a very important part of what makes a picture work in the first place.

The IDEA!

The idea that becomes the concept that needs thinking about. Then the right collection of people and fashion brought together to pull it off. And mostly that idea can ONLY be fully realised because you have brought the right team together - it, the picture becomes a gestalt - where the image itself becomes greater than the sum of all the skills of all the individuals who have put it together. Think of those ICONIC images! Yes we mostly think of the photographers eye and timing - but.. and especially with fashion. What if the stylists choice of outfit was changed, the model, the make-up artist, the hair? Even the assistants are part of a well orchestrated machine of thought and ideas and actions. Swap out this or that and you will not have that same picture.

ICONIC images! The likes of which have never been seen before. Pictures a generation remembers and keeps remembering!!!

This is something that is I think essentially impossible to achieve with the 'new regime' of mood-board as starting point - facsimile the final position. These pictures will have no soul. And there are luscious, strange ironies when it comes to fashion photography done in a way that begins with an idea that becomes a concept brought to life. Even though a fashion picture is a real-photo, fashion should always be a fantasy which is something that is not quite real at all. When that fashion picture is based on an original idea and well made with a great team. That fashion picture, that fantasy holds something unique inside that is real: and that's something that a copy of a fantasy can never have.

And you know what. I think most people just don't care, have forgotten that great pictures can still be made. Have become so; so used to the quick flick of instagram and copy-copy-copy - as an original idea - they have forgotten that great images can be made and they go beyond, far beyond their initial purpose of creation - and go on being remembered. For a very long time. Come on, I haven't given up; let's kick some goals, let's take our time back; our ideas back; let's get it together and let's make photography great again!

More of my thoughts on photography here -

Mood Boards; that White-Gold Blue-Black Dress Mood boards, you are probably doing it wrong.

The Stove might be Terrific but it won't deliver Fantastic Pictures. Why it's the photographer not the camera.

Why this Photographer Closed his Instagram Accounts All still valid though I do have one again..

Want to see some ICONIC Fashion Photos? Here's Goggles take - Iconic Fashion Photographs

Illustration for the article Lets make Fashion Photography Great Again by Photographer and Writer Kent Johnson


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