They say an image is worth a thousand words, it touches and inspires, a face, an emotion, a moment wouldn´t be the same if they´re not seen through a perceptible lens, and when it comes to fashion an artistic vision represents the difference between frivolous and sublime, that’s why I´m pleased to present the husband and wife team of Brandon and Allison Voight, awarded for their work not only in Australia but also New Zealand and the United States also. Voight Photography is responsible for the visual impact on some of the most important publicity campaigns which have gained widespread acclaim with personalities and stars like Dita Von Teese, Jennifer Hawkins and Whitney port, and for mass media publications like the Australian Financial Review and the Wall Street Journal. We feel priviledged to bring to you this Q & A with Brandon and Allison as they share there insights, experiences and thoughts with us on their busy and colorful careers in photography.
1.When and how were you drawn towards photography?
B. V – Photography has come in and out of my life. My father was a photographer and a photography teacher. As a child I used to help him on weekends in the darkroom, where he taught me to develop film. I still recall the smell of chemicals and my wonder as the wet, white pages would slowly and magically reveal their images – like shared secrets. I have always had an interest in art and the visual, but was always more interested in drawing. I returned to photography seriously through my wife, Allison, who is a fashion writer/editor. When we started dating I didn’t even own a camera – not even a compact camera. I borrowed my father’s to take some happy snaps when we went on a trip. Unhappy with my pictures, I started studying photography to take better photos, and it snowballed into a consuming passion from there.
2. What is the most rewarding aspect of your work?
B. V Undoubtedly, the biggest reward is a happy client. There also a great satisfaction from seeing our work in print or online. I also love the excitement of working in a challenging and fast paced environment, and in areas I’m interested in – fashion and music. Another aspect that is very rewarding is the people that I meet and some of the places my wife and I get to go to, which I never take for granted. As I focus on fashion and music photography, I can find myself with the best view of the top fashion shows, or photographing a big-name concert tour, or backstage at the ARIA Awards.
3. What it takes to create impact and relevance beyond the attributes of the person, landscape or object themselves through capturing the image?
B.V The two factors I always consider is the technical approach to the image, and the context of the image. Photography is largely a 2D medium. I create the illusion of depth through the use of light and shadow and perspective. For impact, the use of colour (or absence of colour), posing, and composition are also important considerations. In terms of context, as humans we have hundreds of years of iconic images, originally through painting, etched on our collective cultural subconscious. There is a history and language to these images refined through the history of western art, such as the ‘golden ratio’. We don’t have to slavishly follow the successful techniques of the past, but it’s important to understand why particular images have resonated with humans throughout history, and what made them relevant – it largely relates not just to their technical aspects, but also to their context.
4. Your job involves various scenarios and circumstances, from celeb shots at events, editorial sessions and publicity amongst others, is there a particular situation you enjoy the most?
B.V I love the art and craft of studio photography the most – creating compelling and beautiful images for fashion. I am inspired by the greats – Irving Penn, Richard Avedon, Peter Lindbergh, and Patrick Demarchelier – all of whom managed to bring their unique vision to studio fashion photography.
5. Your most lengthy or exhausting photo shoot so far?
B.V It would definitely be Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week. Although MBFW is exciting and something both my wife and I really look forward to, it’s a week of day and night photography of all the runway shows, parties, and events in often very challenging circumstances and locations.
6. What jobs have gained you the most recognition?
B.V In February this year I photographed Dita Von Teese’s debut collection of lingerie, “Von Follies”, in Melbourne, Australia. Fortunately she loved what we did, and she choose our photos to be published globally. Also earlier this year I shot the advertising campaigns for a wonderful Australian chain-store, Sheriton Shoes, and for an amazing design label, Mackenzie Mode. Both of these won international awards for the Best “Fashion, Commercial and Advertising” photography in 2012.
7. Many celebs and models have passed by your camera lens, what advice can you give readers who would like to start a career in modeling, regarding talent and abilities in front of camera?
B.V For a start, being reliable and pleasant to work with goes a long way. Successful models pose effortlessly and focus on the moment completely. When thinking about their portfolio, it is important for a model to know what type of modeling they want to do. Freelance models have greater flexibility but should still focus on the main category they will receive the most work in. For example, if a model chooses fitness or swimwear modeling, then those are the types of photos they will need to have in their portfolio. High fashion models should have high fashion images in their books.
8. Apart from beauty, attitude plays a crucial role when it comes to appeal in a photo. In your opinion, since you work with celebrities, who would you say are the celebs with the most attitude in front of a camera?
B.V I’ve had the pleasure of photographing Jen Hawkins, Rachael Finch, and Jesinta Campbell a few times. They are not only really nice people, but also manage to project their personalities through their photos. Bryce Courtenay, Roberto Cavalli and Russell Brand were larger-than-life characters and a lot of fun, and you can see that in their photos. I’ve also recently photographed Nicole Richie, Taylor Swift, Miranda Kerr, and Whitney Port, who all connect with the camera perfectly and are complete pros, but for attitude, I would have to say Dita Von Teese is my favourite – she brought a sassiness and sparkle to the shoot that is unmatched.
9. If we go back in time, to black and White photos, and not long ago in the 80´s, in magazines we wouldn´t see the photoshop phenomenon we see now, and portraited women would look beautiful. Now days we seem accustomed to a more processed image, what role does photoshop play in photography these days in general and in your particular case?
B.V I might spend a few hours photographing a model in a studio, but I will then spend many, many more hours in Photoshop post-processing the images. I can’t think of any images in fashion magazines today that have not been post-processed to some degree. We shoot a lot of model portfolios and all those images are also photoshopped – sometimes heavily. I love Photoshop and the added opportunities for creativity and beauty it provides, but I never take it too far. For most jobs, neither the client nor I want my images to look photoshopped – we want them to look natural. Sometimes it’s a fine line, but Allison reviews all my images and checks that none of them are ‘over-cooked’.
It’s important to remember that artists have always manipulated, and created their interpretation of ‘the truth’ through drawing, painting, and photography. Many of the features in Photoshop are merely digital versions of traditional darkroom techniques. I think I’ve managed to answer your question without exploring the ethical questions relating to the use of photoshop, or our current Western ideals of female beauty. [Laughs]
10. Do you carry your camera on you even in situations where you´re not working?
B.V Up until a few years ago I always did, but now I purposely don’t. If I attend an event with a camera I simply can’t help myself, I stop being a guest and slip straight into what my wife calls “pap-mode”. Now when I attend parties, weddings or events I leave my cameras at home. I will use my mobile phone for a couple of happy snaps and that’s it. . . But I still haven’t mastered the iPhone ‘selfie’ [laughs].
If you feel inspired by this interview and want to know more about their work visit Voight Photography and Design