A glimpse of Brett Florens’ pho­tog­ra­phy

Brides Essence - - Front Page -

Brett Florens, a South African pho­tog­ra­pher now liv­ing abroard, shares some of his stun­ning pho­to­graphs with you. Brett still shoots in South Africa as well as over­seas.

Where did you grow up? A: I am a KZN boy, born and banana-bred!! I grew up on the KZN South Coast, ab­so­lutely lov­ing the in­no­cent out­door life­style. Most of my adult life has been spent in Dur­ban North and for the past ten years, my wife, two sons and I have lived in Mount Edge­combe.

Where are you based and what ge­o­graph­i­cal area do you cover? A: My fam­ily and I re­cently moved to Am­s­ter­dam, but while my home base is there, I fly back to South Africa very reg­u­larly for wed­dings, work­shops and for other commercial clients. Be­ing a wed­ding pho­tog­ra­pher is a great ca­reer, how­ever it is largely sea­sonal, so I spend my time fol­low­ing the wed­ding sea­sons. That means I spend most of the South African win­ter mainly in the UK or Am­s­ter­dam, but my wed­dings take me to other great Euro­pean des­ti­na­tions such as Italy and Spain. I also fly to the USA and Dubai for work dur­ing the year.

What made you choose pho­tog­ra­phy as a pro­fes­sion? A: My in­tro­duc­tion to pho­tog­ra­phy was not con­ven­tional by any means. I was a po­lice­man in the riot unit dur­ing the last years of apartheid. A need arose for a pho­to­graphic unit within the riot unit and I vol­un­teered to get out of the mun­dane task of pa­trolling the town­ships. One could say that I fell into the ca­reer!

Did you study pho­tog­ra­phy? A: I am a self-taught pho­tog­ra­pher. When the bug bit, I was a very poorly paid po­lice­man and couldn’t af­ford for­mal train­ing. I be­came ob­ses­sive about shoot­ing and spent hours pour­ing over pho­to­graphic man­u­als, books and mag­a­zines. I worked re­ally hard to ed­u­cate my­self with all things pho­to­graphic, ask­ing any pro­fes­sional pho­tog­ra­pher as many ques­tions as they would an­swer. I stud­ied and de­con­structed im­ages that res­onated with me and then tried to repli­cate the shots later in my own work. I learnt ev­ery­thing I could tech­ni­cally and started to shoot wed­dings for friends or fam­ily por­traits once I felt I had enough tech­ni­cal know-how.

When did your pas­sion in pho­tog­ra­phy first be­gin and what do you en­joy most about it? A: Once I took hold of that cam­era, it was like love at first sight. But it was when my first im­age was pub­lished in the lo­cal daily news­pa­per that I knew I wanted to make pho­tog­ra­phy a full­time ca­reer – I guess be­cause it was the mo­ment that my work and ef­fort was val­i­dated by in­flu­en­tial play­mak­ers in the in­dus­try. So much about this in­dus­try is about con­fi­dence and how you feel about your own work. Some­times you need that recog­ni­tion from oth­ers to en­able you to be­lieve in yourself. Af­ter a cou­ple of years I left the po­lice force and started my own

pho­to­graphic com­pany with a very small stu­dio. Pho­tog­ra­phy is both very tech­ni­cal and cre­ative and to make a suc­cess of one’s ca­reer, you also have to have strong busi­ness savvy – it’s us­ing both hemi­spheres of the brain! I love the fact that it is a con­stant chal­lenge – I never stop learn­ing and push­ing my­self to be­come bet­ter and I’m happy to say I’m just as pas­sion­ate about pho­tog­ra­phy as when I first started.

How long have you been a wed­ding pho­tog­ra­pher? A: I started pho­tograph­ing wed­dings for col­leagues and friends in 1994, so it’s go­ing on 20 years now. I have shot over 750 wed­dings and I am still lov­ing it.

How many wed­dings do you pho­to­graph per year? A: I used to shoot around 50-60 wed­dings a year, how­ever that kind of in­ten­sity does take its toll on fam­ily life and is re­ally not sus­tain­able. In 2005 I de­cided to el­e­vate my brand to tar­get the high-end of the mar­ket. Re­duc­ing the amount of wed­dings I shot, but pro­vid­ing a prod­uct and ser­vice that is world class. I now shoot not more than 20 wed­dings a year.

What sets you apart from other pho­tog­ra­phers? A:I would say that my par­tic­u­lar brand sets me apart. When teach­ing other pho­tog­ra­phers, this is some­thing I urge them to find for them­selves, their own brand. Per­son­al­ity is key and they need to work on their own strengths to cre­ate a brand that res­onates with them and one with which they are com­fort­able. In this way we will all have our own sig­na­ture style that be­comes in­stantly rec­og­niz­able. My style is ed­i­to­ri­ally in­spired. I tar­get fash­ion con­science clients that are con­fi­dent and want to par­tic­i­pate in the process of cre­at­ing mem­o­rable im­ages that would not be out of place in high-end mag­a­zines such as Vogue or Van­ity Fair.

Are you plan­ning on do­ing some­thing dif­fer­ent in this years wed­ding sea­son? A: My style does evolve over the years and, as men­tioned, it has a strong fash­ion el­e­ment. How­ever, clients book me be­cause they like what I do, so al­ter­ing that rad­i­cally can be dan­ger­ous. I tend to in­tro­duce new things a few im­ages at a time, wed­ding by wed­ding. In that way my pho­tog­ra­phy evolves and stays fresh and trendy.

What are the lat­est pho­to­graphic trends and have you im­ple­mented any of them? A: There is a move to­wards low light or night pho­tog­ra­phy and I am en­joy­ing the op­tions avail­able to pho­tog­ra­phers now with the tech­no­log­i­cal ad­vance­ments in cam­era and light­ing equip­ment. It is mak­ing this genre an ex­cit­ing one to ex­plore for me, adding so much di­ver­sity to my fin­ished prod­uct and en­abling me to ex­press my­self cre­atively.

Do you have any ad­vice for Brides on how to choose the right pho­tog­ra­pher?

A: Well, that is a whole ar­ti­cle in it­self, but here goes –

Choos­ing your pho­tog­ra­pher is one of the most im­por­tant as­pects of your wed­ding plan­ning. You will be re­ly­ing on him or her to cap­ture the en­tire at­mos­phere and all the many de­tails of your wed­ding – a day which can never be re­peated.

Rep­u­ta­tion - Ask friends and fam­ily, par­tic­u­larly newly-weds for rec­om­men­da­tions. A pho­tog­ra­pher’s rep­u­ta­tion for de­liv­ery is usu­ally a good in­di­ca­tion of abil­ity.

In­stinct - Con­tact the pho­tog­ra­pher and set up a meet­ing or chat on the phone. You will be spend­ing a lot of time with him or her on your wed­ding day and you will need to feel con­fi­dent in their abil­i­ties, as well as feel­ing re­laxed with their per­son­al­i­ties.

Are you able to match a bride’s budget?

A: If she has a big budget of course! I’m not one to ne­go­ti­ate with my prices ac­tu­ally, so un­for­tu­nately if she has a very low budget, she will have to find some­one else.

Do you have a favourite pose for Brides?

A: I en­joy fem­i­nine lines and cre­at­ing im­ages that re­in­force that. The clas­sic

“S” shape pose is my go-to pose and has be­come part of my sig­na­ture style. What is your pre­ferred equip­ment brand? A: I am priv­i­leged to work with the best equip­ment avail­able to pho­tog­ra­phers to­day. My pri­mary body is the Nikon D4s flag­ship to­gether with the retro Df. The Nikon lenses are su­per sharp and the skin tone cap­tur­ing ca­pa­bil­i­ties are per­fect. What is your favourite pho­tog­ra­phy ac­ces­sory, other than your cam­era? A: I am play­ing with a prism at the mo­ment, it cre­ates un­pre­dictable and ex­cit­ing re­sults. If you had to choose one lens which one would it be and why? A: Nikon 70-200 f2.8 for wed­ding and Nikon 85 f1.4 for fash­ion. The ver­sa­til­ity that the 70-200 of­fers is very use­ful for wed­dings, but the 1.4 of the 85mm is fan­tas­tic for cre­at­ing the shal­low depth of field and great bokeh. (google this word for more in­for­ma­tion!) What light­ing equip­ment do you take on a shoot? A: I use the Elinchrom Quadra off cam­era strobes, Manfrotto LED and the Ice Light by Wescott How im­por­tant is Pho­to­shop in your fi­nal im­ages? A: Post-pro­duc­tion is an es­sen­tial el­e­ment to cre­at­ing a great prod­uct for my clients. I have a full time team ded­i­cated to great post-pro­duc­tion. be­lieve in spe­cial­ists han­dling each part of the process, that be­ing I am the specialist pho­tog­ra­pher and my de­sign­ers are spe­cial­ists in the post­pro­duc­tion process. We never overdo the Pho­to­shop on the im­ages, they stay as true to life as pos­si­ble. Do you use a Mac or PC? Which do you pre­fer? A: Mac – I have used mac my whole ca­reer, the plat­form is very well suited to im­agery and the in­te­gra­tion of the prod­ucts and de­vices is very clever.

Pho­to­graphs © Brett Florens

Pho­to­graphs © Brett Florens

Pho­to­graphs © Brett Florens

Pho­to­graphs © Brett Florens


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