Oct 27, 2014

Phlearn Interviews Janna Park

About Janna Park Photography

“Conceptual/fashion photographer Janna Park was always the girl who loved sad movies. She was that girl willing to endure a film that could twist and seize her feelings, keep her locked in the moment, and then quietly leave her. This fascination with heartbreak has clearly inspired her work. Her images revel in that moody veneer: a lonesome look that places shadows over light and utilizes highly processed textures that rather wish reality away than document.

Looking at her images, you’ll see Park’s fascination with emotional pull. You’ll see a photographer willing to experiment. And if you look closely enough, you’ll see all those sad movies flickering in the dark. You’ll understand that these photographs are close to Park’s heart. And although she only recently decided to pursue photography as more than a hobby, her work has already been featured by Vogue, Vectro Ave, and Golden Age magazine.” – Freddy Martinez from PhotoWhoa

Please join us in this insightful, creative and funny interview with Janna Park who is from Huntsville, Alabama and is turning 21 in a couple weeks. Janna’s work speaks volumes, and I hope you remember our WHERE IS DONNIE? teaser from Friday, because today we are releasing all 20 images exclusively with Join us, this is a great and seriously funny interview!!

About Brittney Flanders; Creative Director for Janna Park Photography 


Brittney Flanders is a total tripple threat. Along with being the creative director for J.M. Park Photography, she is also a model, singer, and actress.  Brittney is the one responsible for bringing everything together for a shoot, whether it be making phone calls and ordering equiptment, or styling and suggesting poses – she does it all. With her creative mind and keen fashion sense, Brittney is a key asset to the team.


Hi Janna! Thanks for joining us for an interview with 🙂 First off I want to know, how did you become interested in photography?

It’s a funny story because I was never interested in photography. My best friend since the third grade, Drew is a photographer, and that was always his thing. I loved watching him take pictures and work. Then in high school I was supposed to take a mixed media class but I couldn’t, I had to take Latin instead and also pick another class. Basically the only other one that sounded bearable to me was photography, and it was film.

I ended up having the most amazing teacher in the world, like we still talk to this day. I was just there in the school the other day shooting.. Starting out with film too has given me a bigger appreciation for the process. I was shown that photography is a lot more dynamic than it seems on the surface. Long story short, I was forced to take a class, and that is how I became interested in photography.


You talked about shooting video, when/how did you become interested in videography?

I’ve just recently started doing video. I never thought I’d do video either, which is the funny thing. Drew, my best friend, he actually is way more into videography now so it’s weird! He’s into videography and now I have an urge to create videos and stuff. I think I get really inspired by him especially.. but before photography I was all painting, drawing, just all kinds of crafty type things and I always loved doing that kind of stuff but it never felt like something that I wanted to do with my life like photography does.

Definitely never saw that coming!


You have taken classes for photography in high school, other than that do you have any other formal training in photography?

Or do you consider yourself self-taught for the most part?

For the most part I consider what I do now to be self-taught, but my roots are trained. I took Photo 1, Photo 2, and AP Photo throughout high school.

The AP Photo class gave me a college credit and then when I started in college I thought the route that I was going to take would be towards the art for an art degree, and I found out that my pre-req’s for photography didn’t match up for what I needed/wanted to take. I’m not in school currently, not for that reason, but because I feel better like I’m better off pursuing my photography outside of school.

That is all of the formal training I have. For the most part,  I learned a lot of stuff by researching different ways to do things on Photoshop, a lot provided by Phlearn, thank you! I’ve really been self-taught since I’ve started working with digital.


How important is Photoshop/ Post-Processing to your works?

Photoshop has always been a big part of my work, I enjoy editing just as much as I do producing the image in the first place. It’s just like a part of my workflow.

Unless I was just shooting film or polaroids or something I can not post something without doing something to it in post. I only use Photoshop, I don’t use Lightroom. I would like to eventually get into Lightroom I just have been lazy and haven’t!

So I just use Photoshop and it’s definitely very important. I don’t necessarily do things that need a lot of manipulation, but I’m pretty good at learning what I need to learn so I know how to do those things when they do arise.



What’s on your gear list?

I have a Canon 6D and I shoot mainly with a 50mm 1.8, 24-105mm, and those are the only lenses I work with!

A lot of times I use this flash that I got at Wal-Mart.. I don’t use flash a lot! Every once in a while I need it, but I’ve gotten the same flash there twice and they have broken both times so I’m like never doing that again.. it was just a sun pack flash or whatever, it got the job done but it gets off-sync with my camera and then it will never go back. So i’ve decided that I’m going to save up for a big fancy flash now! But yeah, that’s all I’m working with at the moment! 🙂

Can you tell us about your “HorrorGlam” Series? How did this come to life?

I love Halloween. I love the entire month of October; and my creative director Brittney Flanders who is also my best friend in the entire world we do shoots and we do everything together. She loves Halloween too and we were just thinking about all of these Halloween shoots that we wanted to do, so I was like you know – we’re doing so many shoots based on a horror or mystical-type theme we should make it into a series! And Brittney was just like Yeah! I’m liking that idea! So it just kind of spawned from there.

And HorrorGlam, I don’t really.. I think honestly we just came up with that when we were really drunk one night. We were just like Hashtag Horror Glam, there ya go! #HorrorGlam Haha, so I think that’s how that happened.

Including the newest addition of Where is Donnie?, what was the most fun set to work on for HorrorGlam so far?

Well I did this one that is very different from any project that I’ve ever done that was really cool. It was The Poltergeist. The stars in it are my two other best friends Zach and Jeanne. They are actually a couple in real life. Jane had this really cool idea to do a shoot based on a couple and at the end you find out that the guy is actually dead. And so I was like okay, I like that, but we need to bulk it up, we need to add more to the storyline then that.

So we decided to add in the Polaroids which served as the memories of when he was alive.


Also the editing to him was done to make him look like a ghostly being in the pictures. That was really fun just because it was like hanging out with them in a cemetery – my flash broke during that shoot exactly. So we were all holding up cell phone lights a lot for the lighting in those pictures!
So that was a struggle but we’re not supposed to be in the cemetery after cops will come and get you, like that’s happened before.. to me! So we were constantly on the look out, because they will sneak up on you too. It’s really creepy.


What is the craziest thing you’ve ever done to get the shot?

Let me think about this… because I get in trouble almost every time I do a photoshoot! I’m always somewhere I’m not supposed to be.

This isn’t going to sound crazy but if you live here and know about the way Monte Santo Mountain is it’s kind of crazy. You’re not supposed to be in the park after dark up on Monte Santo Mountain which is right next to where me and my friends live – everyone goes up there to do random stuff.. but we were up there shooting in the middle of the forest at night and this park ranger stumbled upon us somehow and told us we needed to leave, and we were just like “Oh! We have no where else that will possibly work for the shoot” and like Brittney, seriously, like flirted with him like so hard core that he let us, well he didn’t immediately let us stay. We packed up all of our stuff, went back to our car, and then finally he drove past us and he said “Okay, I have decided that you guys can stay, as long as you put money in the honour box when you leave”, and we’re just like “honour box? that’s funny!” haha

So yeah, I don’t necessarily get into any kind of crazy trouble, I’m just always being asked to leave places. So that was just a funny story since Britney was bringing on the flirt like hard core for that. She was like “Pleaaase. Oh pleasese let us stay!” hahaha! It was way too funny.


On shoots do you usually work with models, friends, or a mix of both?

A mix of both! A lot of my friends are models, so that helps! My best friend Britney is a model. She’s been my main person that I shoot, but both of us have been trying to back off of that a little bit because we’re just like “okay, I can’t only take pictures of you Britney”

Jeanne my best friend..she’s not necessarily a model, but she’s a dancer. I find that dancers work really well in photography because they are comfortable moving around and so those are my friends.


Models that I work with are usually just different models around the area that I’m in. Sometimes I’ll travel, sometimes models will travel to us, but it’s a mix for the most part.

WHERE IS DONNIE? Released today exclusively with

By Janna Park and Brittney Flanders



When did you and Brittney start conceptualizing Where is Donnie?

Back in June Britney and I were talking about our favourite movies and she was telling me some that I haven’t seen and I was doing the same to her. I was so shocked to hear she has never seen Donnie Darko. So I was just like, what is wrong with you?

So, I made her watch it, and she became just as obsessed as I was with it. And you know, sometimes I’ll just go through phases where I just watch it and be like oh my godd, it’s so beautiful! I love everything about it, but then it will settle down. I was going through one of these phases at the time, and so was she because she was so new to it, and looking up stuff about it, and researching it and watching it over and over again trying to understand it, and she was just like “Janna, we both love this so much, why don’t we do a photoshoot based on Donnie Darko?”

And my initial reaction was, “that seems impossible! How could we ever do that?”


So from there we just started randomly talking about it from time to time, and then one day when I arrived to her house “okay Janna I’ve made a list of scenes from the movie that I think are important for us to do in our shoot!” and I was like “Whoa! Okay. This is for real?! Okay.”

So then we started going over the scenes together and writing details about them. Deciding what was important to display, what was not as important.. What scenes we thought were the most iconic or memorable.


Then when we finally found a model we thought was perfect for it, but we initially thought we weren’t going to be able to use our model Jesse. The model that starred in the shoot as Donnie. Because she has a whole sleeve of tattoos! And we were just like, we love her, she’s perfect, but we just don’t know if we want to go through the trouble to cover up her tattoos. So things happened, and people cancelled on us, and we ended up using Jesse! Which was awesome, but we still had the trouble of where and how do we cover up these tattoos?

So she went and bought this super expensive tattoo cover-up, and it worked, awesomely! None of that is editing…that is all tattoo cover-up and make-up. Like, I didn’t do anything. No skin retouching to her tattoos…and she has them all over her arms! I went a bit off topic there but we started conceptualizing back in June!


You said in the previous answer that Britney showed up with a scene list of important things to get for the shoot. Other than that, what did you guys do to prepare yourselves for this shoot?

We watched the movie over and over again together, and we watched it on my computer so that we could take screenshots of specific images that we wanted to really make sure we got super accurate.

Cause you know this whole time Britney has been saying things like “this is a big deal! this movie has a cult following! we can’t get it wrong! like we’re leaving this open to critiques and interpretation, we have to do this to the best of our ability and as accurate as possible. The reason the shoot is so accurate (because I’m lazy) is because of her. That was a huge thing we kept in our minds while shooting, to keep it as accurate and as true to the original.


Can you tell me about your professional relationship with Britney Flanders, and how she was a big help to Where is Donnie?

Brittney and I met in the Summer of 2013, I asked her to do a shoot with me and she agreed! So we were shooting and we clicked instantly, we just knew that we were going to be best friends.

Then I moved to South Carolina for an entire semester and we still talked, but I was living in a different state so we couldn’t hang out or anything. Then in December I moved back to Huntsville and asked her to hang out, and we hung out, and I feel like I don’t even remember the first time we hung out since I’ve got back because I’ve literally been at her house every day since then it feels like.


That’s Britney and I’s relationship. We bounce ideas off of each other all the time, we like bore people who aren’t into this, like constantly when they’re around us, because we’re always talking about photoshoots and stuff, so people are just like STOPP!!! Haha

Our normal conversations, friendship wise, a lot of them are based around photography, and you know she loves helping, styling, she does make-up a lot for me. She’s just all into every aspect of it just like I am. So that is where we really connect.


With this shoot specifically, this was something that was just as close to her heart as it was to mine. So she was just on top of everything. All the planning, all the contacting models, all of that was her. She wrote the script/outline of the shoot, she got me information, threw back ideas with me, we were partners in this shoot for sure.

Like, I took the pictures, but we were the ones staying up late together making the Frank mask.. we were the ones who shared the costs of buying the props, she is definitely the other half of this photoshoot.


I know that you’ve talked about the creative process for this shoot quite a bit already, but I want to know more!
Before the shoot did you do any sketching, location scouting?

We had a good idea of where we wanted to do each scene, it wasn’t hard for us to figure out equivalent places around Huntsville which would go with the setting of the movie. We shot the golf course, waking up seen, at Hampton golf course in Huntsville, and it looks really really similar to the one in the movie, like creepy similar we realized even more so when we were there.


We got yelled at when we were there because we were taking up the greens and stuff, so people were like “HEY GET OFF LET US PLAY GOLF ..early this Tuesday morning..” so that’s what happened then…


The other cool location we ended up shooting at was for the movie theatre scene. The movie theatre scene was actually done at a Playhouse here in Huntsville because that definitely would have been a lot easier to get access to than a movie theatre where you have to pay to see movies and taking pictures is at most times illegal! So we broke in, well not broke in, the door was open, we had to go around and try every single door to the playhouse until we found one that was open. That was fun and interesting!


Other than that the locations were just a street and a neighbourhood, we all live in 5 points here in Huntsville, which is like the perfect little neighbourhood to shoot this in. That’s where we did most of the street scenes. Britney house was used for the portal scene, the stabbing…for the most part that’s all of the planning that went into it. Thinking of locations and then driving by to confirm them.


How was the experience of making the mask and props?

We knew it was important to have a skeleton shirt for the shooting scene, so Britney purchased the skeleton shirt which was one of the really big items that we needed.


We also needed a Frank mask! And we procrastinate… a lot.
We were going to order one, and we waited until the last minute, so if we ordered it then it wasn’t going to be here in time, we had no choice but to make it.


So we spent 3 days, all day 3 days making this paper mache frank mask and painting it and shaping it and stuff. It ended up turning out better than any of the ones that you can buy. They don’t look nearly as similar to the one in the movie. Another thing that we didn’t want, was we didn’t want a full on fur in the back mask, where it would just be fur, we just wanted the face mask. We were able to get that exactly how we wanted it which was nice. The mask literally cost $1 to make. We already everything we needed to make it except for popsicle sticks for support in the back, and that’s the only thing we had to buy, was popsicle sticks.

Compared to ordering the one that doesn’t even look like the Frank mask on the internet for $100 we spent $1 and made one!


Overall how do you feel Where is Donnie went?

It is very rare that a shoot goes exactly how you think it’s going to go. You can plan it out to the best of your ability but for the most part you’re going to have an image in your mind and somehow you’re not going to be able to replicate that; and for this shoot, it was one of those rare times where everything turned out exactly or better than we had hoped. We had a lot of questions going in, like the different use of lighting. Because for me, my shoots, my aesthetic, I like to keep one shoot to one type of lighting – either all artificial light, or all daylight. So that was something I didn’t know if it would be fluid, but it ended up working out fine because it is based on a movie, and lights do change. Sometimes they’re using sunlight, sometimes they’re using artificial lighting. I think in the end this made everything even more realistic than I was originally thinking.

It turned out really awesome.


How many hours did you guys put into this project?

Oh god.
Thinking, researching, making, shooting, and editing…. I’m probably going to have to put this into terms of days. I’d probably say at least a week and a half’s work of pure thinking about this, cause like I said earlier. We have been thinking about this since June, we only really stepped up the hard core thinking game when we realized that this was happening, and we were going to have an awesome platform to be released on. We were like let’s work! let’s go!


For the entire month of October this was our lives.

Relieved it’s done?

Yes, I’m thrilled. 😀

Donnie19end of Where is Donnie? Janna Park and Brittney Flanders

What is your favourite photo that you’ve ever taken?  (why?)

I have a forever favourite picture that I have taken so far. It hasn’t changed in a year. This photo was inspired by Ophelia from Hamlet, which is one of my favourite plays and one of my favourite things to read. I was just so inspired by Shakespear and that specific play, and Ophelias character, and her descent into madness and what that meant for the rest of the characters in the play.


I did a whole shoot based on her existence and the play.. but this one specific shot is the iconic Ophelia shot of her in the water drowning, after picking flowers. The way the image ended up being captured was just so effortlessly intense. When I was shooting it I wasn’t sure how it was going to turn out because we had to go to a different location than we had planned, but it ended up turning out even better, it’s beautiful. Every time I look at it, I don’t look at it and think it’s so pretty for aesthetic reasons, but it’s just one of those images that speaks to you.


You have done 4 lookbooks, and you have 2 scheduled for the next 2 weeks. As someone who’s never worked on a lookbook, how do you enjoy the experience?

I love shooting Lookbooks. I love knowing that my pictures are actually going towards something to help someone else, other than just something to add to my portfolio. I shoot a hell of a lot of test shoots, just because I love it, I love the fact that my photos will be displayed on someone’s website. That they will help sell clothes, sell an image, like, that’s my dream! That’s what I want to do.

So I was just like, okay, I have to find a way to start doing this for real, so I started messaging all of these boutiques around Nashville, close to Atlanta and all the way to Atlanta (that’s pretty far for me, Atlanta is 4 hours Nashville is 2 hours), and it turned out that a lot of these boutiques I was messaging were interested in booking me for a shoot! That’s how that happened!

I have friends that are models that will go with me on the shoot, and model for the LookBook  and they love doing that too!


What inspires you?

Fashion and Photography in general.

A good portion of my day, everyday, whether I think it’s going to happen or not I catch myself looking at shoots, constantly looking at my favourite websites (Nylon, SeaHeads MY FAVOURITE), always looking through Flickr to find more conceptual images. Every once in a while I’ll see something out in public randomly walking that I’ll be like “Wow, that’s really beautiful. I want to incorporate that somehow into a shoot.”

I can’t really say anything specific that I’m inspired by but I always have people come at me with ideas as well, so a lot of the time when I do shoots it’s a collaboration between the ideas of people in my friend group


Who are some of your favourite photographers/artists?

Julia Triotti, Zoey Grassman, Katelin Worthington, Bleeblu (Mark Harless)…I was actually at one of his shoots the other day!

Those are the top ones…Zoey Grassman being the top one because she’s awesome.


What is the best advice that you’ve ever received about art, photography, or life in general?

The best piece advice that I’ve ever been given, and it’s from a groggy memory from a long time ago but is from my best friend Drew, the one I was talking about earlier. Back when I was first getting into photography and that was all he was doing you know that was his life, and he said to me that the most important thing about doing any kind of art form is making sure that you love what you’re doing, because if you don’t, you know you’re not being true to yourself and who you are. That has always stuck with me.


Interviewed By: Angela Butler

Thanks for reading! To keep up with Janna Park and her work you can do so on her Website, Facebook Page, Flickr and/or Instagram

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