Fine Art & Animal Portrait Photographer Javier Senosiain shares his unique thoughts and images with us here at James Robinson Photography Blog. Thank you Javier for spending time with us.
Javier Senosiain: Thank you for your interest in my work.
JRP: Where do you call home Javier?
Javier Senosiain: I live in the province of Navarra, in the North of Spain.
JRP: What led to your interest in photography and specifically animal portraiture?
Javier Senosiain: I have always been interested in all kinds of fine arts, but I specially like photography because it is so immediate. On the other hand, I have always liked animals, and soon I felt capable of doing a serious, non stereotyped, kind of animal photography.
JRP: Is there any formal training in your background?
Javier Senosiain: I studied photography in the Fine Arts degree at the Complutense University of Madrid. After that, I worked as a photographer and photo lab technician for 15 years in the analog era.
JRP: Who are some of the photographic artists that have influenced your work?
Javier Senosiain: I really admire Andrew Zuckerman’s work with animals, but I think that I am more influenced by some painters: masters of light such as Rembrandt, Soroya, Turner, and I must admit that I have a fascination for Norman Rockwell’s work.
JRP: What steps did you use to develop your vision and technique early on?
Javier Senosiain: After abandoning professional photography for several years, I have recently returned to it, and I have found big surprises. I think that the most important aspect of my technique is my ability to “see” in my head the final result before I take the picture. These days one can modify lights, shadows and textures during the final editing. It is very important to take this into account when it comes to illuminating and composing. Sometimes the idea arises from a particular texture, some other times it comes because of a peculiar light …
JRP: What would I find in your camera bag for a typical shoot?
Javier Senosiain: Usually, one or two full frame reflex cameras (Nikon d800 and Nikon d700), a 50mm and a 35mm lens, and always, always, a macro lens (normally, a Sigma 180mm). Of course, a portable flash.
JRP: Do you prefer, artificial or available light and why? What are your most often used light modifiers?
Javier Senosiain: I use what I have at the moment. The light I like the most is natural light: when I work in the studio I always try to imitate it. Sometimes I combine the two. They both are light, after all. In the studio I almost always use the biggest modifier I can. At present I do almost all my work with a 180cm umbrella soft box as main lighting. I frequently use bounced light off a wall, or a bed sheet, etc.
JRP: I admire your image processing. Describe your digital work flow and the software you use? What do you think one must do to master image processing?
Javier Senosiain: As I said, the most important thing in my opinion is not to separate lighting from composition and processing. I like to work the image, trying to improve every detail. The point of departure is spot measurement in the high lights area, and maximum over exposition, in order to get as much information as possible in the raw file. The image on the camera monitor is appalling, but you have to get used to that and just think of the final image that you are going to get out of it.
The first processing is usually with Adobe Camera Raw. I lower high lights almost at the minimum, I lighten the shadows, and I recover exposure by about two stops. Then I go to Photoshop CS6, and I work with adjustment layers the whole time: normally with a brightness adjustment layer, sometimes darkening in order to emphasize shadows, sometimes lightning in order to emphasize lights. I never use selections, all my work is done with a soft edged brush, varying its opacity and size.
As for focusing, I like to do it on a layer which I have previously changed to black and white: I like how this highlights textures and details. Each photo is treated differently, but the process is always based on creating adjustment layers in order to work zone by zone.
JRP: When you look through the view finder when is the most critical moment in the capture of your images?
Javier Senosiain: The most critical moment comes precisely before I look through the view finder. This is the moment when everything starts blending in my head: composition, lighting, processing. The moment when everything starts blending in my head and I start to “see” the picture. When I look through the view finder just the technical part starts, which will allow me to make the idea into reality.
JRP: Was there a shoot or project that revealed to you the distance you’ve come as an artist?
Javier Senosiain: Not a particular shoot, but a couple of events in my career. On the one hand, the moment when a nine page feature on my work was published in the best digital photo magazine in Spain. On the other hand, when people started calling me to teach tutorials about my personal style of working.
JRP: If not photography what would Javier Senosiain be doing with his time?
Javier Senosiain: I suppose that something related either to image or to handcraft.
JRP: So far what has been the best advice given to you by another photographer?
Javier Senosiain: My photography teacher told me that if you work hard, you will succeed. We were talking about her husband, a renowned photographer. He had to work really hard, but he eventually succeeded.
JRP: What advice would you share with other photographers?
Javier Senosiain: I think that, given the vast possibilities of digital photography, the best advice I can give is to be open to experiment and to take advantage of all the new technologies. I think that the more you learn, the more you define your own style.
JRP: Thank you Javier for sharing this time with us. It has been a pleasure talking with you, and we wish you continued success.
Javier Senosiain: Thank you James, it has been my pleasure.
JRP: To view more of Javier Senosiain’s photography please follow these links: