More than photography

More than photography

What you are seeing when you look at an image I create, is not just my photo. There is a team of individuals providing their talent (which in general is of the highest caliber in the industry) and expertise to the final outcome. All of these individuals, from the Model, Hair and Make-Up artist, Manicurist, Fashion Stylist, Prop Stylist and Post Production Retouch (for skin generally… Never my lighting) are essential in getting the “Film Finished” so to speak. Being that I am based in Paris, considered one of the three major centers in the world for my metier, I can draw on this exceptional source of talent. These people gravitate to these centers, just as Hollywood attracts actors and actresses, film directors, and producers.

I have had this discussion with many very talented photographers who become frustrated with their work because they cannot produce the images they imagine for lack of the other talents needed to do so. They ask, “Ben, why do my images lack something that I can’t quite define?” And I brutally have to answer.. “They smack of being Provincial…”

Anyone who has been in this God-forsaken business as long as I have can smell it the minute they see the image. Everything from So So model, bad and poorly done make-up, abysmal hair, no fashion styling at all or perhaps at best borrowed from a local clothing store and totally out-dated by my “Snobbishly Arrogant” standards and really badly overdone or incompetent retouching.

If anyone wishes to do what I do, it is really quite simple. Gain a vocabulary. Go out and look at or buy, Italian Vogue, French Vogue, Harper’s Bazaar, I-D, Numero, V… Not the mainstream crap. Absorb it, look, observe, look, observe. You must attain a base for even knowing HOW TO OBSERVE and what to look for. DO NOT YET STUDY THE TECHNIQUE!!! That will come later. Look at everything that is happening. Look at the hair, the make-up, the clothes, the model, the theme, the ambiance. Keep doing this over and over and over until you learn how to be “Discerning”. To become discerning you need the vocabulary.

Once you’ve done that and come to the realization that you might want to try this, you can choose a high end provincial market or “THE MARKET”. I started with Toronto, stayed one year, moved to LA, NY, Milan and eventually Paris. You can get some pretty good talent in Chicago or LA as upper-echelon almost-there markets and get away with it. You can get the good models in Chicago when they come in to do the shows.

Never do a test without all of the “support team” I mentioned. Hair, Make-Up and Fashion-Accessory stylist and of course the Model. “IF YOU DON’T HAVE THIS TEAM YOU WILL BE WASTING YOUR PRECIOUS TIME.”

You need to think about how you can get a relatively good serious working model and support team for your shoots and what to say to get them. A model agency will know immediately by the questions you ask if you are a novice or advanced shooter. Ask the wrong question and BYE BYE. You’ll smack of… Oh, just wanna meet models, forget it buddy! Never mess around with Model agencies, always be as forthright as you can with them. They can screw your career before it has started with just two or three phone calls.

About Benjamin Kanarek

Fashion and Beauty Photographer. Some of the magazines I have shot for include: VOGUE (China, Portugal, Brazil, Italia, Paris and South America & Mexico editions), RG VOGUE Brazil, Harper’s BAZAAR (China, en Español & Latin America, Hong Kong, Italy editions), L’Officiel Paris, ELLE (Spain, Portugal and Greece editions), Madame Figaro (France), Cosmopolitan (France and Italy editions), Glamour (France), Votre Beauté, Jardin des Modes, Dépêche Mode, New York Daily News, Fashion District News, New York Times Magazine, W (British edition), WWD, Fashion Magazine (Canada), Flare (Canada), Oyster, Tank, WestEast…

  • Could you possibly provide some examples of the “wrong questions” that will get me the door slammed in my face? Right now we are just flailing around in the dark, since we know there are pifalls to be avoided, but are ignorant of where they lay.

    • I have written several articles throughout this blog as well as my Politics of Fashion Photography series that may aid you in your goals.

      Best of Luck

  • karen

    hi ben, saw your link on dangs forum and came to see. your blog is great, and obviously sincere. perhaps sally is envious. it’s good to see honest advice by a pro of the highest caliber. i look forward to browsing around more.
    thanks, karen

  • Kerstin

    Great blog Ben. Keep up the good work!

  • Eye Designz Photogrphy

    I love this post. It is very true and something I am currently looking to do. many thanks for your insite and willingness to share. You are one to admire.

  • marc itschner

    what you describe above is very true, i salute you for sharing those secrets which are a lot of common sense and less rocket science. throughout my work i have come to the conclusion that team (with the right people) effort will give you more consistent quality which eventually will set you apart from the competition. not to be afraid to ever push for higher standards with rigorous qc and consistent decision patterns.

  • Benjamin Kanarek

    Hi Kevin;
    Just go to the post Citizen K How did I do it for your answer.

    Ben 🙂

  • Kevin

    Hey Ben great blog! just wondering about the above BW portrait and the black glow around her shoulders? Is that just the shadow cast from the lighting set up?

    Also was wondering if you have or will be doing any more work and explinations on this kind of grainy noir lighting?

    Great works!

  • Elena

    It is a good HONEST advice. I like it. The home page of the blog is a bit hard to navigate because not every titles opens a post but the posts are nice and useful. Thanks a lot!

  • Hermawan Guntoro


    very nice blog Ben.

  • David Stoe

    I couldn’t agree with you more. Mert Alas & Marcus Piggott state that make-up is where most of their effort goes. Once I’m ready to let loose my next step is to assemble a small team to tackle make-up and styling. I’m currently based out of Belgium and it seems there’s a large enough pool of people from the surrounding areas to get in touch with!

    Personally, I’m glad not a lot of people know about this secret. It raises the bar of competition and weeds out the weak!

    I’ve been avidly buying French Vogue for a while now and it’s one of the best learning tools I have come across!

  • Maria

    Bravo Ben,
    Thank god for people like yourself that has a world of knowledge, and that is generous enough to share !!
    I love your blog x

  • Benjamin Kanarek


    Sally…That is what Blogs are for. I think you might be better off finding a Forum…You are in the wrong place.

  • Sally

    I’m not sure I have ever in my life read a blog that says so much of “Look at me me me me me. I’m the God of Photography!!!” as your blog shows. Your work is good, but certainly not as good as your ego is big.

  • stop posting on sp

    your pretentious.

    • Benjamin Kanarek

      Well that is a lot better than totally boring and predictable…Isn’t it?

  • Thanks so much Roentarre!

  • roentarre

    Your blog is truely fabulous and wonderful. I have posted a promotion link on and your blog deserves all the attention it needs. I love it.

    I am currently in the process of doing my MD examination – the final hurdle. So not much involvement on the net currently. But I will promote you in the days to come 🙂

  • Jon Van Gilder

    Painfully helpful – thx!

  • Michael

    Hey, have you seen this news article?
    New details about Michael Jackson’s Death Emerge
    I was wondering if you were going to blog about this…

  • Katy

    Pretty nice post. I just stumbled upon your site and wanted to say
    that I’ve really liked browsing your blog posts. Anyway
    I’ll be subscribing to your feed and I hope you write again soon!

  • Hi,

    A very promising first post, I for one am looking forwards to hearing more.


  • daacon


    Well written and good advice. It is indeed a team effort and kudos to you for stating that up front. While fashion photography is not something I aspire to do , I know enough to appreaciate all the ‘things’ that preceed the ‘click of the shutter’. I wish you continued success and thanks for all the tips and advice you have provided.

  • Tony Alexandre

    Benjamin is the greatest photograph in world for sure !!!!

  • Katrina


    This is an interesting read…
    I really hope to do this as well in the future, to go behind the camera and create…
    Nice blog.
    All best, Katrina

  • Well done Ben.
    This is a great article on the biz of fashion photography.
    Always loved your work – good to see your blog up and running.

  • Cem_Usakligil

    Hi Ben,

    Congratulations with your new blog, I am looking forward to reading your articles regularly. 🙂

    Kind regards,