Fran Domínguez invited me to join him on a fashion shoot in Copenhagen. I convinced him to let me interview him at the same time. So after a great shoot, where I shot the behind the scenes photos you can see in this interview, Fran and I ordered a few beers and talked about his photography. I hope you enjoy the interview!
Andreas: Tell me a little bit about yourself and how you got started in fashion photography.
Fran Domínguez: I come from Sevilla, in south Spain. A really hot city. I’m studying Constructing Architecture and I came to Horsens (Denmark) for doing my final project at the VIA University College. I started making photography, among other reasons, thanks to your website. I began visiting Flickr and Flickrista really often, so I started finding a lot of great photographers.
One day I thought “fuck, why cannot I do this?”, so I just tried to get enough money for buying a camera and, when I finally did it, I started experimenting with it. That’s the story!
So how did you find your first models?
That wasn’t that easy because you know, in the beginning you don’t have a proper portfolio to show, so as a newbie you’ll have to deal with newbie models, newbie make-up artists and so.
But then you start meeting people who, just like you, are trying to learn and do better things. And it’s really satisfactory when some of these people who are rookies like you became the people you usually work with, so you start learning and growing up together. That’s a great feeling.
How did you learn photography, did you study it in school or are you self taught?
100% self taught. I have never studied photography and I really don’t feel I know much about technical features. I don’t think that’s THAT important though. I mean, I make fashion photography. For me that’s all about feelings, so I don’t really care about how many lights and reflectors you use if then you’re unable to make me feel something with your work.
The first photographer whose work I paid attention on was a 15 years old Aussie girl. Now, one of my favourite photographers is a guy who mainly uses a compact Sony Nex-7. Having a good equipment is just about money, but being able to make something really personal, unique and special out of it, that’s a different business huh?
What have you learned during your time as a fashion photographer that you wish you knew when you started?
Well, now I really know what I want when I go for a shoot. When you start doing this it’s like “ok, I’m gonna shoot and try to do it great”, but you really don’t know the way it’s gonna be or what you’re really looking for. Now I’m more confident, I know what I’m good at and what I’m not that good at. Now I know how I want my photography to look like. And of course, I have learned how important the people you work with are in this business.
What are you inspired by? Are you inspired by other photographers or by movies or books?
Both, photographers and movies (I’m not a big fan of books though). There are lots of photographers I really love and obviously I started being interested in photography because of their work. But I also love films. I love watching films by Wong Kar-Wai, those old black and white ones by Jim Jarmusch… They’re so inspiring for me!
Tell us about a challenge you had on a fashion shoot and how you solved it.
For me the challenge is making people I work with think I am worth it, making them think “fuck, I’d love to work with this guy again”. That’s my challenge on every single shoot.
And once you start working with really experienced models, stylists and make-up artists you also start feeling under pressure as they’re quite good and they expect you to be, at least, equally good. And I love feeling that pressure as it often means I’m working with people who are much more experienced than me, so I’ll be able to learn a lot from them.
If you could shoot with any model in the world, anywhere in the world, who would you choose and why?
I don’t have a specific name on mind right now. I guess you expected me to tell you the name of a famous supermodel, and working with one of them would of course be great but, you know, sometimes working with new faces could also be wonderful as they’re so fresh, so natural sometimes. It’s not a normal thing, but I’ve worked with some 17 years old girls with no experience who were really, really good.
What was your plan for the shoot today, did you have any ideas you wanted to use, and did it go as planned?
I like going to a shoot with an overall idea but I think people have to be flexible because, you know, this is no science. Sometimes things work, sometimes they don’t. Once again, for me the important thing is working with people whose work I really love and then let it flow.
What tips do you have for aspiring fashion photographers that want to get into the industry?
Keep growing up, doing the photography you love and learning. But find a backup job, the road is steep!
You told me earlier that you don’t like to shoot with flashes or reflectors, why do you prefer working with natural light?
I just like keeping things simple. I want my photos to look natural, real. Real is a weird word when you are talking about fashion though as for me it’s a sort of advertising and in the end you’re selling an image, clothing, a lifestyle… My friends tell me sometimes “Fran, your photos look great but they are all fake, I know that girl and she’s not that beautiful”. And it makes me so happy when I hear that because then I can jokingly answer “yeah, you’re right, and that’s why I’m that good :D”.
Fashion photography has that ‘fake factor’ as you’re showing a model who has been tuned by a professional make-up artist and a hairdresser. And then you take her to a studio or an awesome location and you take thousands of photos with different awesome outfits that has been chosen by a professional stylist. Later, you take those photos, choose the best ones and open them in Photoshop or any other retouching program and you work on them to make them look even better. But still, I like showing that ‘improved’ beauty on a simple and natural environment. And I said ‘improved’ on purpose as for me it’s not ‘fake’, but the art of getting the most out of a person.
If you could wake up anywhere in the world tomorrow, where would it be?
I love motorsport, so I’d love to be in Monaco watching the Formula 1 Monaco Grand Prix today. But you said tomorrow so, coming back to photography, I love the work of some Los Angeles based photographers I follow, so I tend to think that the models in there could fit great the sort of photography I’d love to do. I’d like to wake up there tomorrow.
We were talking earlier about some of your favorite photographers that you’ve found online on sites like Flickr. Could you tell me a bit more about which photographers you have connected with that way?
How much do you retouch your photos, or is it all natural like you spoke of before?
It depends on the idea I’m working on, but I often like playing with colors and so.
What mistakes do you see other young photographers doing?
Well, now I don’t pay much attention on other photographers’ work unless I really love what they do. Anyhow, making mistakes is part of the learning process, so it’s not just something usual when you’re young but also the best learning way I think. And in the end, photography is art, so sometimes there’s just no right and wrong things, but different points of view.
What goals do you have for your photography? What’s the next step?
Keeping learning and making more and more works, that’s the goal for now!
And that’s it, we’re done. Thank you very much!
Thank you very much Andreas, it was so cool meeting you.