Ask Questions to Benjamin Kanarek

Sarka Litmannova © Benjamin Kanarek

Your questions… Perhaps some answers

I will be available to answer your questions to the best of my knowledge regarding the photo business, techniques, lighting, photographic approaches and the politics of our metier.

Feel free to pose your questions. I’ll get to them as soon as I can with my perspectives.

Benjamin Kanarek

About Benjamin Kanarek
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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…

  • Hello Ben, for fashion business question: how did initially you start fashion photography business? I mean how did you get the client for example Vogue magazine, did you send your portfolio to them or you can work for Vogue because you have some connection with people work there?
    For photography techniques question, did you shoot every step model change the pose or just shoot the pose that you like meaning that you don’t push shutter when you don’t like the model pose?
    thanks

  • Being that I never studied photography, I had to learn by trial and error and as a result, I discovered some rather unusual techniques. However, in the beginning I could never replicate those “mistakes” when asked to and as a result, lost as many jobs as I got. I guess you could say that I had a kind of “F” you attitude and was considered a maverick by many, an “A”hole by others and a hack by my competition. As a result of constant experimentation, I have no problem thinking on my feet during shoots and changing things on the fly. One of the reasons that I don’t like to be too rigid in my planning of shots. The theme and the general direction is defined, but I keep the door open to the possibilities.

  • Michael Piestrzynski

    Benjamin, your style is quite different to the norm. I’m not really into fashion photography that much, and am not that well versed in it, but your work has a dark / artistic appeal to it that I really enjoy. When you were starting out did you have to be a sheep and do what everyone else was doing or did you just develop your own style and stick with and hope to hell that ’employers’ like it too?

  • Hi Ben,

    First a quick question, what is it that you do with the talcum powder, as alluded to in a previous post?

    And now the difficult question. What goes through your head when you’re creating the lighting? How do you personally approach the lighting of a scene?

    Thanks,

    Tim

    • Hello Tim;

      First off, regarding the talcum powder, I will have to call that a trade secret, so sorry for that one. Just use your imagination. As to the lighting of a scene, that really depends on the theme of the story and the story board. All my shoots must start with a story. Once the theme is defined based on the collections that are shown at Fashion Week a story is established. As to lighting, my structuring of the set up is very strict for the given theme. The only real deviation is my orientation to the model. I move around the model to see the effect of the light on her/him. On location, I generally change the lighting for each scene change, but keep the lighting themes similar, unless I am doing a large 12-20 page story where I may divide the whole story in to 2 or 3 sub themes.

  • How often, in a shoot, do you change the lighting setup? Also, how frequently do you actually press the shutter? Does the model just hit a pose, you shoot, then pose, shoot, pose, shoot, or is it more like pose, adjust and adjust, then finally shoot.

    Maybe there’s no hard and fast rule, but to me, the machine gun effect ends up with many images that are similar, making it harder to choose from them. The other way, very deliberate, often makes an image that is close to perfect, but often with some detail overlooked that could have made the shot better.

    Thanks for posting so prolificly!

    • When I shoot in Studio, I generally keep the lighting set up the same. I will however do some subtle changes, if the model is on the floor, on a cube or moves to a different part of the set. When I shoot on location, in a hotel or apartment, etc., I will change the lighting set up for each change of clothing. I give the model a lot of latitude to do what she/he feels is appropriate for the theme we have discussed before the actual shoot. I always shoot on the fly. Good things happen when you leave open the possibilities. I only shoot quickly if there is a lot of high speed movement by the subject.