by Jule Schmidt
Meet Ben Evans: event, portrait, fashion & lifestyle Photographer with clients such as Warner Bros, Samsung and Modelmanagement.com between many others. On top, he is author and VIP Holistic Photography coach available worldwide. Last year, he was one of the photographers for Modelmanagement.com’s Fresh Faces contest.
Modelmanagement.com got the chance to ask him some interesting questions about this year’s contest and his advice about photography. Moreover, you can have a look at some of the amazing pictures of the contest taken by Ben.
Model Management: This year you were also one of the fashion photographers for Fresh Faces but this time you had a larger team. Can you tell us Why?
Ben Evans: I think that fashion photography especially is a collaboration. With this in mind, and aware that we wanted to work with two distinct themes with the models, we recruited a larger team of talented individuals to work together to create something more polished than I could do alone. By finding people you trust you can rely on them to focus on hair, makeup or styling for example and narrow your own focus. Fashion photography is about fashion, so we were happy to work with several incredible designers. As well as being highly professional, it was also great fun to have such a happy, passionate team! I’d like to recognize and thank them for their invaluable contributions; Callecia J brown- Designer and Styling, Leo Parelta- Designer , Avalon Saez -Designer, Rosas crafts (handmade hairbands), Lisa Wixell (belts and lace underwear),Pippa Jean -Jewelry, Patricia Mullen- Hair and Makeup-Coordinator , Anna Mundett -Hair and Makeup, Tatiana Uribe Delgado Makeup – Characterization, Virginia La Musette Bruni Stylist – Coordinator , Marzia Rota Assisting with Clothes.We were also fortunate to work with some lovely models this year too. They were the stars of the shoots and ultimately everything was for them. It’s great to see the recognition they are getting as their careers progress.
Huge thanks to Sam, Matthias, Alexander, Kierstynn and Aurelio!
MM: So you have been collaborating with specialists. Do you think talented people are born or made?
BE:They are made. I can speak from my personal experience as a photographer and photography coach. There has been a lot of talk about the ‘artist’s eye’. It’s mostly nonsense. Talent is largely made, possibly based on personal interest. I started taking pictures because I was interested by crows for example and carried on because I had some good photo opportunities in Sierra Leone. You may feel predisposed to follow certain paths by nurture and chance circumstance; most skills are straightforward to learn, given practice fueled by motivation.
Photography is both a craft and an art. A craft because it requires you to learn, practice and master multiple different techniques. An art because you also need to develop an eye for a ‘good’ image and infuse it with your unique perspective. Some people are naturally at higher levels in each when they start to learn photography. A graphic designer already know about colour and form, which helps with composition.
I can teach young children enough essential principles that they’ll be able to take some great photos. People get stuck learning the wrong concepts, or not learning at all. Read The Art of Colour by Itten and Light, Science and Magic; you can’t help but improve your ability. Do that enough times and suddenly you’re naturally gifted. It’s just about learning and internalising artistic principles. One to one coaching is the most efficient way to do this. Books and YouTube videos offer the best value. And like it says in the vedas, when you’ve gone as far as you can go on the high road, you have to get out of the carriage and walk.
MM: More models are also becoming photographers. What advice can you give models who want to make great pictures?
BE: This is such a great trend and it will only continue. It works because it’s easier than ever to get into photography and gain a following. Digital cameras and the internet have changed everything. There are two different mindsets; a fixed and a growth mindset. In the former, your identity is fixed. You tend to think ‘I’m good at x but not good at y. That’s just not “me”.’ It’s very limiting. The opposite is one of growth; you assume that you can build your skillsets, you can fundamentally change who you are. The ability to change is essential. And that growth mindset is the key to becoming a learning machine. Just assume that photographers are made, not born, and constantly focus on improving your pictures. You don’t need permission, you don’t need much equipment, you don’t need a rubber-stamp from an official course. Focus on what matters; making better photographs.
The best way to begin this, and specifically to get the positive feedback that will encourage you on your journey, is to photograph pretty people. For commercial shoots most photographers have got to go through model agencies. There’s a team, there’s pressure and time is limited. Often the temptation is to do what works instead of taking potentially creative risks. Not so with models; chances are you have pretty friends and time to photograph them just for fun. Get an entry level dSLR camera, a 50mm f1.8 or 85mm lens, a big reflector from eBay, shoot at sunrise or sunset in a pretty place and use VSCO presets without over-editing the pictures. Put the best on Instagram, use the right hashtags and network. Record the shoot on Snapchat. Copy the photos in Vogue and Dazed, then take risks. Realise there’s no magic, it’s just a matter of applied knowledge. Look at www.Shot.Click to learn from the best instead of the currently fashionable. Then get your work in front of people, learn from their advice and keep going after a clear vision of ‘success’, whether that be publication in a certain magazine, working with specific people etc.
MM: Are models then well placed to become photographers?
BE: It’s a good idea for models to have an understanding of photography. It makes their collaboration with the photoshoot more effective, and because modelling seems to be time-limited, it’s a useful ‘retirement plan’ for the transition for young models. But everyone working in creative industries should learn photography, and particularly anyone with exposure to the fashion world. Designers benefit from knowing how their clothes look when photographed. Make-up artists see how retouching is aided by certain styles of make up. Art directors can better explain what they want from photographers and see what’s possible. It really is very easy to learn now with the right resources, and particularly rewarding, both professionally and personally.
I wrote a book with this idea in mind; that everyone can benefit from improving their photography, and it’s quick and simple to do so. It’s called, perhaps unimaginatively but precisely, ‘Photography: The Few Things You Need To Know’. It’s available as an ebook and an audiobook for the minimum I could put it together for, so there’s no excuse about taking the first step towards improving your pictures; you can find it now at GreatBigBear. The private photography coaching I do (www.Superyacht.Photos) goes deeper but for beginners, the book is essential.
The point is that photography isn’t something that you need to do full time. It will be ‘another string for your bow’, a very useful skill to have across a range of industries. It’s not just models; everyone can benefit and there is no better time to start than now.
The practice counts. Aim for at least 10,000 hours. That’s why I do test shoots whenever I have time; I want to keep learning, to improve my skills and experiment with new ideas. It’s essential to grow.
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