Our Young South Africa series is all about highlighting projects that document local youth culture and putting a spotlight on exceptional young, creative South Africans. The annual series runs throughout June to coincide with national Youth Month. Today’s feature is on Kent Andreasen, an already prolific photographer who makes beautiful art labelled as fashion photography and whose command of light and shadow always impresses.
Besides shooting almost constantly, Kent is completing his final year of Cinematography at AFDA. Make-up artist and stylist Roxanne Wentworth is a good friend and long-time collaborator of Kent’s. She interviewed him on behalf of 10and5 and gave us an insider’s perspective on this young photographer.
Here’s what she had to say:
I have known Kent for many years, having worked on numerous shoots together, and he has remained the same self-effacing, complex and illusive individual I knew in high school. His love of the craft comes not from the perceived ‘lifestyle’ that is associated with it, but rather the sheer enjoyment of creating something beautiful, interesting and different. Evidence of this can be seen in the wide variety of subject matter he shoots – evocative of the complex recesses of his mind which are constantly overflowing with new ideas.
Having been taking photos professionally for just over 2 years, but exploring the medium for many more, Kent has, in a relatively short time managed to rack up an impressive list of brands and models who can attribute some of their success to his ability to capture or enhance the underlying beauty in almost anything (this even includes houseplants and electrical cord.)
Favoring the open road to an industry party, he is endlessly observing and admiring the natural world, affording his work an adventurous and spontaneous edge that can be credited to his ability to see the minute details and moments that are lost to those around him.
A lot of your photos feature ‘everyday’ subject matter – ‘still lives’ to some degree – what fascinates you about what others may at first glance see as mundane?
Kent Andreasen: I guess it’s the idea of observing but also being conscious in my day-to-day life. This, paired with my somewhat obsessive need to take at least one photo a day reaches a point where I find subject matter wherever it presents itself. I also like photographing these scenes because It’s a refreshing break from the more commercial fashion work I do. It’s like a photography vacation for me.
I enjoy both aspects of photography but both hold very different meaning to me and require very different outlooks at the subject matter. One is very controlled within a space whereas the other is more of a found scene that you choose to involve yourself in.
You spent a year travelling around the East – would you say this has influenced your photography?
Kent Andreasen: I don’t think it influenced my photography because I wasn’t as conscious of the idea. But it definitely altered my mind set toward the world I live in. There is no doubt about that.
In what way?
Kent Andreasen: The way in which people perceived and interacted with their surroundings where I stayed in China was exponentially different to Cape Town. Here people are keen to explore and branch out into the world whereas there, they seem content to be stuck in one city all their lives. I guess it just made me appreciate home and how easy it is for us as South Africans to see our country and also to meet different people on a day-to-day basis.
As a photographer who regularly shoots on film, what is your take on the ever-encroaching technical advances within the industry? Do you think photography has lost its ‘honesty’?
Kent Andreasen: There are tons of people who still delve into everything that is film and comes with it. It’s more alive than most people realize. I personally think that the “industry” has always been about subject matter and all that needs to continue to happen is for people to keep altering the perception of that subject with new fresh ideas.
The technical side is just an influence that can help to refresh the ideas or improve on them but at the same time a lot of people tend to reject the new advances for their own personal reasons. I don’t think photography ever had true honesty. It has always showed apart of the story and revealed only hints of a greater subject. But if film is seen as ” honest” then yeah I guess to a certain degree. But I think it’s more of just a progression by different means. It’s all an illusion really that the viewer can interpret.
Do you have a favorite photograph you have taken?
Kent Andreasen: I don’t have a single photo that I would be able to label as my favorite. I find that taking photographs is the constant pursuit of finding something new that stimulates you or maybe even something you have overlooked until that moment where you suddenly find relevance in the subject and decide to capture it. This process means my favorites are changing constantly and also vary based on the state of mind I was in when I took the photograph. It really is an endless cycle.
A strong feature within your work is your use and manipulation of light. What interests you about it?
Kent Andreasen: It’s interesting because it is impossible to control or manipulate. Obviously to a certain degree we can make light work to our advantage to create something that is fascinating to the viewer. The sun presents unique settings for your subject and finding these glimpses; whether it be the shadows or the harsh highlight it creates, makes it worth doing.
A lot of your earlier work is shot outdoors. Would you say that you favor shooting outdoors, as apposed to studio work?
Kent Andreasen: I think studio work and location shoots are two different experiences. I don’t prefer one or the other. I enjoy the natural light and making what is available to me work but then also like to be in the studio where I have control over what light reaches the subject. They are both rewarding and can be highly frustrating in their own right.
What is your opinion on the idea of a ‘muse’. Also, what makes someone interesting to photograph to you?
Kent Andreasen: In my opinion a muse is the product of photographers becoming tired of chasing after civilization. I think its a very personal journey finding a muse and depends on what you want achieve from capturing that particular subject.
What makes someone interesting for me is not down to his or her features but instead the context of the environment they find themselves in.
Some photography schools now offer courses on cellphone photography. Thoughts?
Kent Andreasen: Are they really? I didn’t know that. My thoughts are very conflicted but in the end a photograph’s impact is all down to subject matter and it doesn’t really matter what the tools are. As long as they are not teaching people to take photos of their meals I have no real issue with it.
I think using a point and shoot option allows people to get to the bottom of composition first and then they can start worrying about the technical aspects that allow you to capture an image like you see it in your head.
As an individual who is intrinsically involved in almost every facet of their shoots – from concept to editing – hence making every project quite personal, is it difficult to then publish your work and open it up to scrutiny?
Kent Andreasen: I used to be worried about getting my work out there because it’s easy to let your insecurities take a hold of you but then I got to a point where I felt my work was at a level where I could reveal it. I don’t believe anyone likes criticism but I think if it comes your way it’s best to assess who is commenting on your work. If it’s someone who knows what they are talking about and it’s constructive, you would be a fool not to listen. People will always have something to say, it’s just human nature. It will always be difficult because if you love what you do you want it to be well received but in the end as long as you are happy with the results then you shouldn’t have to worry.