British Photographer Dean Homer
Dean Homer is a British photographer based in London, UK and he travels out to South East Asia often, mainly Singapore and Manila. We spoke with Dean to ask him more about his career as a photographer, and of course to bring you guys a special photo series from his work.
Were you educate in photography, or are you taught?
College was like stepping back in time, the syllabus was probably written by Ansel Adams. For sure, we learned the fundamentals. In the first year, we shot mainly in the studio with tungsten lights and 5×4 monorail cameras with clockwork lenses. In the afternoons, we processed the sheet film in trays before printing. By the end of the semester, we knew the monochrome process inside out. College was a great experience that taught me the technical side of photography. The artistic side of photography, I learned while doing an apprenticeship. I saw some incredible portraits done by a local photographer, so I walked into his studio and asked if I could help out on weekends. This eventually landed me. A full-time job has a studio assistant. By working closely with the photographer, it gave me insight into the creative process and how to produce outstanding images.
What camera do you use most of the time?
For studio work, Phase One would be my preference. On location, the new Nikon or Canon DSLR’s are almost medium format with 50 megapixels. These cameras produce optimal image quality. Depending on the brief, it would determine the camera system used. I was asked by MTV Philippines to take a few shots of Justin Timberlake. Timberland and the Pussycat Dolls in concert. Obviously, the Nikon system was the best option in this case. Justin Timberlake’s performance was absolutely incredible; I almost forgot I was there to take some pictures. Concert photography has almost the same skill set involved in fashion runway photography. The difficulty with concert photography is you have the artist giving their performance and they’re dancing around, the lights flashing off, and on, so you’re constantly composing the shot, checking your exposure and focusing. With a fashion runway, the light is mostly consistent and you know approximately where the model will be which helps. Watching the model’s feet on the runway is the key to getting a good shot. By shooting on the forward step, the rest of the shot should just fall into place.
Which photo are you currently most proud of?
It’s hard to choose just one image. My approach to portraiture is classic with a contemporary twist, focusing on the model, and how they project. Everyone’s different, so I need to coax the best possible performance from the model. Capturing the unexpected is a magical moment. I’m constantly looking for a simple graphic quality that makes the image jump off the page. When I’m behind the camera, I’m focused on achieving the best image possible. Photography is so precise, it’s about light, composition and what the photographer can bring out of the subject. It’s equally important to break the rules, and not let the technical stuff get in the way and allow the unexpected to happen.
Comparing where you are now with where you are when you first started, what could you have done differently to get to where you are sooner?
Of course, in the beginning, it’s difficult because you lack the experience, over time you gain this and begin to relax. I don’t think I would have done anything differently. You just need to be patient with yourself. I began my career shooting film, 6×7 with 10 shots on a roll and you wouldn’t know you had the shot until the film was processed. Now, with digital, you can shoot hundreds of photos on a CF card or if you’re tethered, see the results immediately. I’m not sure which is better, if you were shooting film, you’d just keep shooting not entirely knowing if you had the shot and sometimes would get a better picture by not stopping. With digital, you know when you’ve got the shot and stop, and not going that little bit further.
You’ve clearly worked with a wide range of models, what tips can you recommend to people looking to expand their portfolio?
A photoshoot is a team effort and working with a model that goes that extra mile makes all the difference. Your team around you makes the assignment work, so it’s important to have a good atmosphere during the shoot. A good relationship with the model is essential to get their best performance. It’s their performance that could make or break the photos. The less experienced models tend to over model, I’ve found less is more and it’s small nuances that make a big difference.
Describe a typical shoot.
There really isn’t a typical shoot, they all depend on the brief from the client. I was asked by a Philippine publication to shoot a runway show. After the event, they asked me to add movement to the clothes which turned out to be an interesting exercise. Normally, the photos from a runway shoot look fairly static, so adding the movement to the clothes produced some interesting images.
How much time do you spend taking photos, versus retouching photos?
I try to do as much as I can in the camera, but I still find that I spend 50% of my time processing the images in lightroom or photoshop. Sometimes I over think the image and make it too complicated than it needs to be. Again, I found that less is more and keeping it simple is the key to elegant photographs.
Favorite photography book?
Michael Langford’s ‘Complete Encyclopaedia of Photography’ was my ‘go-to’ book in the beginning. An amazing book that covered everything, it’s still a great reference for lighting and photographic techniques. It goes into depth about the old photographic processes, I learned so much from this book.
Who would you like to work with most?
I’m currently in search of agents in New York and Paris. But of course, working with Chanel, Christian Dior or Dolce & Gabbana, Condé Nast, a larger creative commission would be a ‘dream come true’
To know more about this amazing photographer, please visit: Dean Homer