James Robinson Photography Blog welcomes Fashion Photographer Alexander Noe to this “Spotlight” segment. Thank you Alexander for sharing time with us.
Alexander Noe: No problem.
JRP: Where do you call home Alexander?
Alexander Noe: Even though I have lived in NYC for the last 10 years, I still really consider the shoreline of Connecticut my home. It’s a very beautiful place, and I gain inspiration from the natural surroundings and the peaceful environment.
JRP: What led you to Fashion Photography? Do you have any formal training or assisting in your background?
Alexander Noe: Like many things in my life, chance. I had never even considered a career in this, or any other artistic field but was not impressed at all with corporate career tracks, or with my experience in the work force thus far. So when I turned 25 I basically just decided to pursue interesting and more long-term options for work, the first two things that came to mind were music and photography. I felt that my eye was more artistically developed than my ear so I decided photography over music. I also wanted to keep my intrinsic love of music intact, so I decided to just get started. It has been a wholly organic business growth since then.
The only formal training would be a class on black and white film photography I attended while attending Syracuse University and a some seminars I have taken since then. I assisted for only three days with fashion photographers or various skill and experience levels, I found it difficult for me to be on set and not be able to capture any of the action myself.
JRP: Who are some of the photographers that have inspired you and your approach to your craft?
Alexander Noe: Obviously there are many and they continue to change as I develop and mature at my craft. They are for the most part all fashion photographers. At the beginning it was David Sims, Greg Kadel, Mario Sorrenti, Steven Klein, Steven Meisel, and Inez & Vinoodh and now its more Mert & Marcus, Terry Richardson, and Camilla Akrans.
JRP: Are personal projects important in the development of a photographer’s growth?
Alexander Noe: For me they have been integral and I have the feeling they will continue to be so. They allow you to realize a vision and to create something that you find inspiring or beautiful, they allow you to do what you love doing, what you are passionate about. You can also use them in your portfolio if you choose, so they can definitely be rewarding in a practical sense as well as inspiring creatively.
JRP: What would we find in your equipment bag for a typical shoot?
Alexander Noe: Canon 1ds mark iii, Canon 24-70mm 2.8, Canon 580ex.
JRP: What is your approach to lighting? Do you prefer artificial or available light? What are your most used light modifiers and why?
Alexander Noe: At the beginning, in terms of my location work, I preferred all available light and sometime I still do. But now I have been appreciating the mix of both available and artificial or staged lighting.
In terms of my studio work it was just the opposite. In the beginning I always preferred high-end strobe lighting (artificial lighting) but as I progressed I learned to beautifully mix both available light and artificial light (strobe lighting).
JRP: Could you describe your digital work flow and the software you use? Do you process your own files or employ a retoucher?
Alexander Noe: I use Capture One Pro and almost always shoot tethered to a computer (Mac). I do some initial adjustments to the RAW images with Capture One, then take the files to Adobe Photoshop CS5 for retouching. I do my own retouching for the most part, as I find it is incredibly important when it comes to the finished product (finals). The creative control that you can exercise over the overall image (including image quality, mood, atmosphere, sharpness, color, etc..) is amazing.
JRP: What about custom white balances and color checks when you shoot?
Alexander Noe: When I began I used the official Getag- Macbeth color checker on every shoot and corrected for “true” color but then as I have matured I have found that I can easily color correct if need with my own eye. But perhaps more importantly there is no “correct” white balance, we all see things differently and this typically is reflected in an individual’s images. Different colors and color combinations, like different types of music evoke different emotions and can be used (hopefully artistically) to create different moods.
JRP: Image printing, is that something you handle in-house?
Alexander Noe: In the past I dealt with this in-house for client proofs and portfolio maintenance, albeit with the help of a great assistant but in this progressive and technology driven industry I now don’t bother with printing and do pretty much everything digitally (for instance, I have a digital portfolio on the web, I send files digitally using FTP servers, and use an Ipad and present my portfolio digitally). When I do print I use high-end and well-known print shops that offer good client services and proofing, this is mostly for fine art pieces.
JRP: As you look through the viewfinder what would you say is the most critical moment in the capture of an image?
Alexander Noe: The most important moment for me is when I see or realize that it is going to be a great frame even before I press the shutter button. This takes two separate sets of skills. One set is knowing what the image, after captured through the lens and onto the sensor, will look like with the current lighting and circumstances (whether natural light, strobe lighting, continuous lighting, or mixed lighting). The second set of skills (at least in fashion photography) deals with the ability to recognize beauty itself …. beautiful angles, shapes, poses, composition and of course how to best frame such subjects. This is perhaps the more artistic side.
JRP: With today’s economy what changes are driving the market place and how have you adjusted?
Alexander Noe: In my limited experience, and like in many other industries, technology is a driving force. I’ve found that adapting (even eagerly) to new technologies and approaches, not resisting, is a worthwhile approach and I have tried and continue to try to do this myself. Much of the fashion photography work these days is making its way to the web (advertisements, Lookbooks, online catalogs, etc), while this might concern some people, I think it is a natural shift and I can’t imagine image creation disappearing anytime in the near future.
JRP: What is the biggest obstacle to over-come in building a client base today?
Alexander Noe: Client loyalty. In order to build a successful business you need to have a steady client base, this obviously cannot be achieved without at least some sort of loyalty. Although it seems that for the more experienced (famous or big name) photographers and for even perhaps the well represented fashion photographers (but they rely on their well-known agency) it isn’t a problem. But for my clients, which include some start-ups and newer, up-and-coming players in the industry its difficult to maintain fierce loyalty, which is actually understandable seeing as there are a lot of photographers and thus a lot of different options and styles to choose from.
JRP: If not photography how would you be occupying your time?
Alexander Noe: Traveling and playing music, for sure.
JRP: What has been the best advice given to you by another photographer?
Alexander Noe: I’m not sure. What I can say is no matter what type of photography you are interested in, the important thing is to find your own style and stick with it. Just like a mechanic needs different tools for a different jobs, so do clients need different photographers with different styles and skill sets, for different jobs.
JRP: What advice would you like to share with photographers who are starting out?
Alexander Noe: Continue to do what you love. Work hard and try to enjoy the trip in the meantime.
JRP: Thank you Alexander for sharing your thoughts and images with us. It has been a real pleasure. We wish you continued success.
Alexander Noe: You are very welcome, thanks for having me.
JRP: To view more of Alexander Noe’s photography please follow this link: