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May 14, 2014

Phlearn Interviews The Phamily II

Hi Everyone! This week we’ve got something a little different for you! We are bringing back the Phamily Interview.

Phlearn Interviews The Phamily, Edition II, Featuring photographer and Phamily Members Anthony Passant/AP Photographie.

“Phlearn Interviews The Phamily” is the beginning of a new series, where we feature talented and creative photographers on Phlearn. We showcase their talents through creating dialogue within an interview, and by of course profiling some of our favourite works by the artist(s). If anyone is wondering who or what exactly the “Phamily” is, it’s simply a word created to symbolize the community that we have here at Phlearn. If you watch our videos, read our posts, follow our tutorials and/or look at weekend inspiration, you bet you’re a Phamily member here at Phlearn. 😉

This interview is Edition II in the “Phlearn Interviews the Phamily” series. We will run these types of interviews once every 2-4 months, and the interviews are meant to showcase and profile the amazing talent of photographers, who began learning about photography through the means of our tutorials here at Phlearn.com. Each edition will profile 1-2 photographers. Enjoy!

Stay tuned next week for Phlearn Interviews the Phamily III.

Anthony Passant aka AP Photographie was born on June 1978 in Paris suburbs. He grew up in a very creative environment- his father was a bass player and his mother was a jazz players agent and a good drawer. Growing up in this environment contributed to Anthony’s passion in photography and the arts. As a businessman first and foremost, Anthony does photography on the side as his biggest passion. He dreams to one day live off of just photography, but for now it is just a dream.

This interview is great, as Anthony shows us his editing process in Photoshop with screenshots and before/afters, tells us the best ways he learnt about lighting and also provides some lighting diagrams. His interests are diverse as he shoots beauty, fashion, children, business, and much more! I learnt a lot from talking with Anthony, I hope you do too!

How did you become interested in photography?

Well, I’ve always been interested in pictures and images, drawings, paintings (I’m a huge fan of the Renaissance painters, especially Italian and Dutch), comics, movies and photography is just a logical extension of those means of expression! Friends of mine were already photographers, amateurs or professional so that helped a lot to get started in the first place and buy my very first DSLR ! (A Canon 350D with a 18-200 SIGMA)

You’ve learnt a lot about photography through phlearn.com. Other than this do you have any type of formal training in photography?

Practicing a lot is probably the best way to increase your skill set and understand how things really work. I’ve bought almost every tutorial Phlearn was selling, plus a few of Joël Grimes, Jame Lebarra, Lindsay Adler, mostly through creative live packs, a true blessing for any beginning photographer.

Through free episodes on Phlearn I’ve learnt how to “read” an image, understand which kinds of lights were used, how (and why) it’s placed, helped me understand how an image can be post-processed.. After one year of serious training I was mostly able to preview my photoshop menus while looking at my camera rear screen, it’s amazing how ubiquitous the photoshop environment can be in real life, it’s exciting and scary all at once ! Ahahahaha !

Growing up you lived in quite a creative environment. Your father was a bass player who used to also play trumpet and guitar, and your mother was a French Jazz players agent as well as a good drawer. Do you feel that growing up in this environment has contributed to your choice to pursue a creative and artistic career?

A lot !!! Yes.

Music is a very important thing through my shootings and editing process, I can almost remember each song or artist I was listening to when looking back at my pictures. Depending on how aggressive or soft the sound was, I like to adapt my playlist to the kind of picture I’m editing, thanks to my mom and dads tastes, I’ve really opened up to a large choice of music; rap, rock, jazz, classical, electronic, etc. It’s unlimited and so inspiring!

My mum and grandpa were both very good drawers and painters. They also helped me  open my artistic eye to to a lot of styles of art, comics, classical painters, modern, manga, impressionists, every kind in fact. So yes, it was really helpful.

It all started here, and I was about to study arts after high school but there’s a huge step between artistic and economic reality, so I’ve done studies in business instead, today’s artistic activity must be some kind of way to catch back up to what I’ve missed !

What inspires you?

Everything can (and must) be inspiring! Comic books, mangas, people around us, movies, known or unknown artists, music, video clips, short movies, children’s books (I have two daughters, 6 and 8, so we got “a few” books at home), and your newsletter each week 😉

What’s currently on your gear list? (cameras lenses software etc)

Actually I got a 5D Mark II, a Tamron 70-200 f/2.8, and soon a 24-70 Tamron.

I’ve left my 50mm and 85mm to buy it, with a little tear in my eyes, but I’ll buy it again a little later I hope!

For the lighting I’m a convinced customer of Elinchrom products (almost same quality of Alien Bees, used by Aaron). I have different modifiers, a beauty dish, octabox, square softbox, and several dishes, I love playing with lights to create a specific atmosphere.

For the software part, I use Bridge CC, Camera RAW, and Photoshop CC, and sometimes Color Efex, and Knoll, for a few specific editing techniques.

Tell us about your creative process. When coming up with ideas do you ever sketch out your thoughts to keep focus?

I got different things in my backpack to write down my ideas, a little sketchbook with some colored pencils, an iPad sometimes, my Macbook, and my phone which can also be used as a tablet with a pencil too, really useful! My main problem is that I got an artist’s mind with a man’s brain, traduced by a lot of imagination and very little memory !! Ahahahhahahahahahahaha! (My wife will agree to that point, I’m sure, she’s my safety brain in all occasions!)

And on average how long does it take to create an image? Conceptualizing an idea, organizing, shooting, editing, etc

I’m most of the time on beauty/fashion shootings, so not too much time in comparison to 2013, when I was 80% of the time working on conceptual or creative images. When I do conceptualize I take most of the time up by thinking of the shooting and how I can save editing time by organizing every little detail, when I can.

I hope I’ll have time this year for some creative images, it’s the most challenging ones for me.

When working on creative images I think of every lesson Aaron has taught me through the free and pro tutorials, and put it to my own use!

So for my clones, that Aaron used in an episode, it has been 2 weeks of thinking, 2 hours of shooting, alone, in my parking lot during the daytime, with a dozen neighbours coming and going, who were staring at me laying on the floor, screaming and jumping. I’m lucky that I wasn’t brought into a sanatorium that day! Hahahaha.

The editing was the “big” part with maybe 15-20 hours on the image, it was only my second creative image, and was based on the “Island of Morel” learnings, which was maybe my second favourite photoshop tutorial ever! Maybe that’s why it’s still one of my favourite’s of Phlearn’s content ever!

How important is Photoshop and/or post-processing to your works?

It brings so much to my images that I can’t see how I could do without it today, especially in beauty post-processing jobs. It brings a huge plus to everything, haters are gonna hate but that’s true, Photoshop is one of the 21st century’s trademarks. It adds to what RAW photography won’t ever be able to do, and it helps us create whatever we can imagine, that’s how I see it.

Could we possibly see a before/after of some of your works?

Sure, with pleasure ! Here are several « before/after » and BTS (Behind The Scene) of some of my images, I hope you’ll appreciate !

As of right now, what is your proudest moment as a photographer?

Well, there were a few but really important ones! First, the selection of my “Toy Story” photograph was selected by Canon France as a cover photo for their Facebook page, in January 2012, first time ever I was published by an important company, that was awesome!

Then comes the selection of my “Me, my and…..MyselveS” (the clones,  as I like to name it), here, on Phlearn, and the fact that the man who inspired the composition itself was talking about my work as “awesome” while showing a J.J. Abrahams’ flare effect on it, I was like a kid before Christmas!!!

Besides that, seeing my name in the “Epic Burger” video was huge too, and I don’t even speak of that time when I received a mail asking me if I was interested in giving my opinion on what was about to become that tutorial!

And now I’m here, considered as a Phamily member on Phlearn, giving an interview for what appears to be one of the most significant help that I’ve had since I’ve started photography, thanks to you!

I think I can only say that I’m proud of every moment, mostly, and that I secretly hope there will be anything else to be proud of coming after the previous one!

How important do you consider lighting to be in photography? You’re clearly very skilled with lights, what are your favourite lights to work with?

Yes, I mean, the light itself is essential to photography: no light, no image! But in some point, I’m very attentive to the light and its effect on shapes, faces, how the eyes will pop, and I pay a lot of attention to the atmosphere created by this or that kind of light.

I have a lot to learn about lighting, but I spent a lot of time learning how to analyze and understand how the light(s) has been used in a picture. Now, it has become a second nature, same as the photoshop menus when I look at the back screen of my camera!

That’s why I spend so much time on my lights, and give them the priority when it comes to my budget. I hope someday a lighting company will notice me and offer some kind of partnership, dreaming isn’t expensive! Ahahahaha!

My #1 pick on my modifiers would be the 135cm octabox (Rotalux by Elinchrom) that I use a lot for its softness, but I like to use it all, it depends on what atmosphere I need/want! Elinchrom products are terrific for advanced studio and mobile lighting, I hope I’ll be able to buy some more in a short time ! ^^

People learn about lighting in different ways. By reading lighting books, lighting theories, watching videos, assisting on set, or just playing around themselves with what they have available. When trying to get light to look a specific way, what did you find the best methods of creating that were? How did you learn best?

I think I’ve learned the most by seeing others do and by assisting in the beginning. It helped me understand how light interacts and how the geometry can be used in every situation. After understanding the basics, I’ve had the chance and privilege to assist photographers that I admire for the precision and accuracy of their lighting method, they have a lot of lighting equipment but they know how to use each one like no other, it helped me a lot too. Now I experiment a lot, I’m not inventing anything, just helping myself understand by learning how light travels and bounces, envelop a body and fade to shadow. That would be a great story to tell I guess, and that’s how I introduce the lighting principles to the few who help me with lights on my sets.

The website Sylights.com (it’s french, cocorico !! ^^) has helped me a lot too, I’m a modest contributor to their diagrams gallery but Pierre-Jean and Olivier are doing a really nice job for “strobers” I can’t do without thanking them for that !

Within your photography, you shoot a lot of different genres. Beauty, Portraiture, Kids, Business. Do you have a favourite genre to shoot? And what genre do you personally find to be the most challenging?

I like child photography for being so spontaneous, beauty because it needs to be fine retouching especially on skin, Portraiture because I’m in deep love with eyes and emotion, for the business you have to be a little advising too, to each category its its own pleasure! But besides that I suck at landscape, architecture, skyline, etc. Maybe one day I would like to try to learn those genres too? I got a lot of time for that! But the most challenging one is probably the creative edits, it mixes every skill to create something magical but realistic! Not the one ill have enough time to spend on, but the toughest and most challenging, that’s for sure!

You’ve only been seriously doing photography for 3 years now, and you’ve come so far over such a short time. I have seen your progress over seeing your work through e-mails over time, and it’s incredible really!
Since beginning photography you won Canon’s 1st Prize for “the largest photo contest in the world in 2013”, 1st prize for “the most creative picture with toy story” and you’ve been featured and interviewed on multiple sites.With all of this said, how hard was it to get to where you are now? And how important would you consider it to be to stay “self-motivated” (especially when we are our own employees)?

I’m not under pressure as someone who would need to earn a lot of money to feed his family with my photography, as it’s a second job, and mostly a passion. So for me it’s an escape, a secret garden where I can fully express myself, I’m not enslaved by contracts and orders, I take what I need to finance new gear or lighting, and that’s it, but I spend at least 2 hours a day on photography, it’s an everyday training, and I take it veeeeery seriously!

I was under a self-inflicted pressure 3 months ago, no more pleasure, lots of free shootings to increase the quality of my portfolio, 10 to 30 messages each evening asking me when I was about to deliver my free pictures, it was totally insane, and I made a violent burnout… I didn’t touch my camera for two months, didn’t even open Photoshop or Bridge, didn’t take one single photo, even of my own kids, and was about to sell my whole set of equipment, but I didn’t, thanks to my wife who took the time to let me get back on my feet, and come back 2 months later with new ideas, new motivation,  and especially a brand new state of mind about what was pleasure and what was business. It helped me a lot, and she’s my third eye on every single picture I edit, since day one! So, as big as the reward can be, the pleasure of taking pictures MUST always be there; no pleasure, no good work, it’s THAT simple 😉

What’s your favourite photo you’ve ever taken? (Why?)

For historical, emotional and affective reason, it’s gonna be « Toy Story », it’s the beginning of everything else, my taste for photography and editing, my first contact with Phlearn, my first achievement around photography, and still today, people I meet talk to me about it! The hard part, is to NOT take that for an eternal success, and still try to improve from that- it’s difficult. I’ve won several contests with that image, and when I’ve tried to make a second part, it was a huge fail! The affective reason, is that my older daughter (Lou, 8 years now, but 6 during the shooting) is the main character of the picture, and that my younger daughter (Charlotte, 6 years now, 4 during the shooting) motivated me, all the toys used are hers, she’s a big fan of the Toy Story movies!

What do you like to do in your spare time when you’re not photographing and/or editing?

Taking care of my children, mostly, working too (photography is a complementary job and a passion at first), playing video games, watching movies, TV shows (two big inspirations), and listening to music. I used to play, but I’ve sold my guitar and equipment to buy my second camera, I think I did well that day, even if playing would still be a pleasure today, my schedule is very tight, meaning little time for sleeping for the good of my passion!

What are you currently working on?

As of now, I’m scheduling several shootings with models, pro or not, and organizing a new creative picture using clones, with athletes/performers/martial arts experts. I can’t tell much else from that for now, but the images are quite clear in my mind! Besides that, I have several images from previous shootings that I still have to work on, if it’s not for a job, I like to spread my delivery of pictures, and use new sets of skills over time and new techniques, it helps me a lot!

Any big plans for the future?

Not for the next weeks or months, but I’d like to work on an hypothetic sponsorship with a lighting company. It would help me a lot, and I’m convinced that a few more light sources would help me to build more advanced lighting schemes for more complex images. It’s a goal, I hope to achieve it one day!

Where would you like to see yourself and your photography go within the next 5 years?

I’d love to live off of photography’s money, but two young kids and a mortgage won’t allow me to do such a thing for now, unless an incredible opportunity shows up, it’s not a priority, not even a project, but dreaming is allowed, that’s the cool thing about that!

And finally, would you like to offer some advice to people who were once like you, and haven’t a clue where to even start within the game of photography?

Never stop learning, you will never know everything, even in a lifetime! If you REALLY want to invest time and money in it, go, make it wisely, read, watch, learn, fail, succeed, but never give up, and never, NEVER think you’re better than anyone else. You would be surprised to discover that a 16 year old photographer can be much better than a 50 year old one, that a girl can be way more creative than a boy, that an amateur can be way much serious and talented than a « so-called pro »! The clothes never make the man 😉

Interviewed By: Angela Butler
To keep up with Anthony and his work you can do so on his Website, Twitter, Flickr and 500PX. Thanks for reading! Stay tuned for next week’s Phlearn Interviews the Phamily III.

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