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The Jane Hotel: Franklin Thompson

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We featured NYC-based fashion and beauty photographer Franklin Thompson back in 2010, and in the past three years he has taken the photo world by storm. Inspiration and ideas for Franklin’s photography has always come from many sources: “Movies, other photos, travelling in foreign places, strange and unsual people, the way light falls on objects and the shadows it creates, new experiences, old memories, 1920’s, 60’s & 70’s, ancient cultures, broken and abandonned objects, music, childhood fantasies…. I could go on and on forever.” His editorials have been featured in magazines such as:  Highlights, Noi.se, And+Men, Vogue Italia (Photo Vogue), Style Mode Magazine, W25 and UCE.   He has also shot for most of the top NYC modeling agencies including Ford, IMG, Marilyn, Muse, Q, Supreme, Trump, and Wilhelmina. And now, he’s shooting high fashion at the Jane Hotel.

I’d always been inspired by fashion and thought I’d be a designer.  I became serious about fashion and beauty photography after taking an internship with beauty photographer Sarah Silver in 2003. Since then, I’ve practiced, tested and shot editorials for magazines and shot for clients such as Conde Nast and TREsemmé. I’ve also recently signed with an agent, Farimah Milani & Associates.

There have been lots of ‘moments’ that helped move me to the next level. The most significant was probably taking the internship with Sarah Silver. Not only did I learn about studio lighting, but also about the ‘unwritten rules’ of photography and the industry like: how to produce a shoot, how to talk to clients, how to direct models, digital workflow.

I learned my techniques by watching and observing the photographers I’ve worked for, and practice, practice, PRACTICE. There’s nothing like just getting out there and doing it! You can have everything explained to you by the best in the world. But until you put it to practice you’ll never truly know it.  In the beginning, even though I knew what I needed to light beautiful images, I didn’t have the kind of gear or money to get what I wanted. I had 2 umbrellas, a beauty dish, some reflectors and black cinefoil.  I had to improvise to try to get the results that I wanted.

Also, I ask… other photographers, assistants, directors, friends. Use your resources.

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[My dad is] the one who originally inspired me. He would always take pictures of us when my sister and I were kids. He loved taking pictures of flowers, also. If you look him up you won’t find a single one of his images. There all probably still in boxes of negatives somewhere in the house. But my dad is the original photographer (to me).

Of course I’ve also been inspired by Sarah Silver. She has had a huge influence on the way I see and shoot women. I also love Paolo Roversi, Henri Cartier Bresson, Camilla Akrans, Steven Meisel, Solve Sundsbo, Annie Leibovitz and Craig McDean.

The worst part about what I do is competition. There are so many photographers and so-called photographers with high end cameras looking to get into the industry. Anyone with a little bit of money can pick up the latest gear and start calling themselves ‘photographers.’ But there’s so much more to it than just taking pretty pictures. The best part is that I love what I do! I love people, taking pictures, lighting, creating, and combining art and technology – and getting paid for it too!

 

Learning from the Pro

 

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Just did a fashion editorial at the Jane Hotel in NYC’s meatpacking district. This time I decided I wanted to shoot video as well as stills so I had to choose a lighting setup that would work for both. I wanted something that would give me a similar look and feel across both mediums without having to light them separately. Our hotel room, while comfy, was not very big at all.

Since forever ago, I’ve been shooting with strobes but this situation called for continuous lighting. So I decided to use broncolor’s HMI units, KOBOLD! This was my first time using them and it won’t be my last. I used 2 Kobold 400’s. One with their Litepipe accessory and the other with barn doors. broncolor Kobold 200 and 400 models accept most (if not all) of broncolor’s light shaping tools. I’d grown to know and love broncolor’s strobes and accessories so this was a perfect job to test out broncolor’s Kobold 400’s.  The Kobolds could be used for video and just enough power for stills to get a nice cinematic look and feel.

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I could shoot video and stills without having to switch lights, power or fixtures. The hotel was old and the rooms were tiny so power was a concern. The Kobolds were low enough in power to plug in two 400’s and still light enough for still and video. The room was extremely small with our entire crew in it. Normally, hot lights would make it unbearable due to heat, but the Kobolds didn’t generate much extra heat. The best thing I like about the 400’s is that they are fully compatible with all of the broncolor modifiers that I use for stills. They’re also water resistant, for those of you that like to shoot in the rain! Before broncolor I’d used Profoto and Alien Bees. When it comes to professional lighting, flash duration, modifiers, consistency and quality, there’s no question… broncolor is it.

I learned [these techniques] through practice. Shoot, shoot, shoot is the name of the game! When I first began shooting I didn’t get the concept of strobes. I wanted to light everything with continuous light. It seemed so much more natural to me. So here we are back at square one almost.

 

Franklin Thompson Photography

Shoot NYC Recap

A packed house at Michael Grecco's Lighting and the Dramatic Portrait seminar. Photo by Mike Hill.

Hasselblad and broncolor wrapped up another Shoot NYC event at La Venue on October 25 and 26, 2012. Shoot NYC has become a photography staple, a place where people can network, educate themselves on photographic tools, and foster a community with their fellow photographers. Free seminars and workshops ran both days and included a variety of topics ranging from how to create and maintain a photography business, to learning about key lighting modifiers and copyright information. These free seminars were incredible in terms of the quality of information, and our speakers spoke to packed rooms of eager photographers that wanted to enhance their photo businesses.

The broncolor Para family lights up Shoot NYC. Photo by Andre Rowe.

Lara Jade's business seminar focused on online marketing and promotion using social media tools and networking. Photo by Kermit Mercado and Victoria Harrington.

Rick Friedman spoke to a full house, and taught how to light on-location, with the use of Sunbounce reflectors. Photo by Kermit Mercado and Victoria Harrington.

Bryan O'Neil Hughes taught the ins and outs of Adobe Photoshop with on-screen instruction. Photo by Mike Hill.

Sunbounce, Sun-Sniper, broncolor, FOBA, Kobold and Visatec products were on the show floor for anyone to get their hands on and use. Shoot NYC also featured new products including the broncolor Move 1200 L battery pack, the Hasselblad H5D, the Sunbounce Bounce-Wall portable flash accessory, and the Sun-Sniper Pro-II camera strap.

The broncolor Move 1200 L battery pack was featured at Shoot NYC

The new Hasselblad H5D was available to see for the first time since Photokina. Peter Stig, Hasselblad product manager for the H system camera, spoke about the new H5D, including its technical advancements and new product features.

The Hasselblad station at Shoot NYC. Photo by Mike Hill.

A live shooting sets with photographers Franklin Thompson, Thomas Liggett, Gregor Halenda, Jodi Jones and David Perkins (with two dancers and a Ducati) were a main focal point. With an array of broncolor modifiers and Kobold HMIs, they played with light to create some amazing images.

Dancers Aaron and Kristin. Photo by David Perkins.

Photographer Franklin Thompson with dancers Aaron White and Kristin Yancy . Photo by Mike Hill.

Photo by Franklin Thompson.

The Ducati. Photo by Thomas Liggett.

In case you missed it, here are some video compilations of the speakers who talk about their businesses, their seminars and a little about themselves:

Shoot NYC 2012: Lindsay Adler, Kawai Matthews and Lara Jade from Hasselblad Bron Inc. on Vimeo.

Shoot NYC 2012: Rick Friedman, Ryan Enn Hughes, Arash Moallemi, Andre Rowe, Michael Grecco and David Robin from Hasselblad Bron Inc. on Vimeo.

Shoot NYC 2012: Chase Jarvis and Vincent Laforet from Hasselblad Bron Inc. on Vimeo.

The student event ran on late Friday afternoon with photographers/directors Chase Jarvis and Vincent Laforet, and was an informative Q&A session that spoke volumes on starting off as a photographer and following your dreams. “Rejection is another opportunity” and “don’t be incrementally better, be different” were some of the mottos behind the two. The students asked everything from “how to make it big” to “what was your biggest mistake,” and everything in-between.

Shoot NYC 2012: Peter Stig, Bryan O’Neil Hughes, Beth Taubner and John Harrington from Hasselblad Bron Inc. on Vimeo.

Shoot NYC 2012: Carrie McCarthy, Alexandra Niki, Aurelie Jezequel and Viktoria Sorochinski from Hasselblad Bron Inc. on Vimeo.

Shoot NYC 2012: Franklin Thompson, David Perkins and Jodi Jones from Hasselblad Bron Inc. on Vimeo.

We would like to thank our partners: Scheimpflug, Adorama, APA, Capture Integration, Fotocare, Resource Magazine, Digital Photo Pro, B&H, HD Video Pro, Santa Fe Photographic Workshops, Lucie Foundation, ASMP NY, Adobe Lightroom, Adobe Photoshop, Calumet and the Art of Photography Show.

And our speakers and photographers: Ghada Khunji,Viktoria Sorochinski, Rick Friedman, John Harrington, Lindsay Adler, Bryan O’Neil Hughes, Ryan Enn Hughes, Arash Moallemi, Alexandra Niki, Aurelie Jezequel, David Robin, Lara Jade, Peter Stig, Kawai Matthews, Michael Grecco, Chase Jarvis, Vincent Laforet, Andre Rowe, Jodi Jones, Franklin Thompson, David Perkins, Thomas Liggett and Jeff Mosier.

We would also like to thank our invaluable extra hands: Elizabeth Stacy and Ryan Burke,  and our army of interns.

Without all of you, this wouldn’t be possible.

And, let’s not forget, the infamous Flugoween Halloween party on Saturday night. After a long week of Shoot NYC and Photoplus, our team rallied together in our costumes and headed over to the event in Dumbo that was hosted with our good friends from Scheimpflug and Resource Magazine. There was an electric chair photo-op and enough food and beer to make anyone merry. Overall, it was a good time with good friends.

We are already looking forward to next year. Cheers!

Photos courtesy of: Kermit Mercado, Victoria Harrington, Ryan Burke, Andre Rowe, Mike Hill and David Perkins

An Interview With NYC Based Photograph Franklin Thompson

I’ve always loved photography, ever since I was a kid. I’ve always been fascinated with capturing moments in time. My first “real” camera was a Kodak disc camera I got for Christmas after begging my parents for months. In high school I carried a camera with me all the time taking pictures of friends in the hall, behind the bleachers, on the handball courts, etc.

I started to take a photography class in high school but then dropped it and switched it for a cooking class after the first week. I didn’t have the patience for the darkroom and technical stuff. I just wanted to shoot. Finally, when digital cameras came about I was able to shoot as much as I wanted without having to wait 2-3 days for the lab, or spend a ton on processing. My first digital camera was a 2.3 megapixel Sony. At the time, I thought it was the greatest thing on earth. Then I graduated to my first DSLR… the Canon 10D.

My first subjects were mainly buildings, graffiti, trains and other random objects that I passed on the street during my daily commute. Pretty soon I got bored of that and realized I really enjoyed shooting people. People had emotion, life, energy and character unlike the lifeless objects I had been shooting. I minored in fashion design in college so I had a natural interest in shooting fashion and beauty. My first attempts were terrible though. Unprofessional internet models with their own clothing, shot with a typical male perspective. I was shooting models and couldn’t understand why my images weren’t coming out like the one’s I’d seen in magazines.

The big changing moment in my photography came when I took an internship with fashion/beauty photographer Sarah Silver. When I told my wife that I was interested in seriously pursuing a career in photography she said I’d have to go out and assist and learn like everyone else in order to get into the business. Being the stubborn rebel that I am, I said no way, I’m going to do it my own way…. That is, until I met Sarah. I immediately fell in love with her images, lighting and style. She was a pioneer in high end digital photography. At the time most fashion and beauty photographers were still shooting film.

While I had already graduated college, and was much older than most other interns, I decided to take the internship and it was the best choice I could’ve ever made. It was 100 times better than any book, class or school. The first semester went well and we decided to extend the internship for another semester. After that, Sarah hired me as her permanent digital tech.

From Sarah I learned how to light (with other fixtures other than umbrellas), how to talk to and direct models, how to create and use an efficient and effective digital workflow, how to retouch, and more importantly, how to shoot shoot women…. (why my photos were looking like they were… the difference between Maxim and Vogue). For instance, men naturally want to accentuate boobs and butts in photos. It’s sexy yes, but it doesn’t necessarily make a better fashion or beauty photo. It’s a completely different image.

How do you learn your techniques?

Most of the techniques I’ve learned have been from the photographers I know or have worked with. A great deal of it I’ve learned from Sarah Silver over the years. Another huge resource has been other photo assistants. They have valuable knowledge about lighting techniques, troubleshooting, and gear because they’ve worked with more than one photographer and can offer advice based on the techniques and experiences of many photographers. Don’t underestimate photo assistants. Many of them are incredible photographers themselves.

My first main photo inspiration was my dad. He was always taking pictures of everything. Of course Sarah Silver. She changed my life when it comes to photography. Also, Ryan Beny and Aaron Muntz, two photographers who have answered countless questions about lighting, technique, gear and just photography in general.

Another huge learning tool is experience. You always hear photographers say “shoot, shoot, shoot”. It’s the best way to learn your own techniques and style. You need to find out what works for you, what you feel comfortable with, and what you like. The only way to do that is to shoot, shoot, shoot!

Who are your photo heroes? Or who has inspired your career?

I never fully studied photography or it’s history so I don’t have a huge list of ‘famous’ photographers that have influenced me, but I find that I am in love with the photos of:

Paolo Roversi, Steven Klein, Henri Cartier Bresson, Patrick Demarchelier, Steven Meisel, Solve Sundsbo and Craig McDean. I was also recently inspired by Annie Liebovitz’s new book “At Work”. For once, I read the entire photo book in one sitting (instead of just browsing the pictures).

What is the worst part about doing what you do?

Right now, I’d say the worst part about what I do is that there are so many other people trying to do it. The industry is so saturated with photographers and people thinking that they are photographers because they have a cool digital camera or the money to get the latest gear. Prosumers have entered the market with their 21 megapixel cameras. Finding a job in photography can be quite hard.

What is the best part?

The best part is I love what I do! Who could ask for anything more? When you can get paid for doing something you love it’s like having your cake and eating it too!