We love exploring new creative talent and we are please to introduce you to the wonders that is Grey Pistachio. JC has a very unique vision to his images and we have recently published a series of his work last month. He has been published in magazines such as Féroce Magazine, HUF magazine, 34 magazine, Niji magazine and many more. We caught up with JC and asked him a few questions.
Firstly, please introduce yourself.
My name is JC Candanedo and I am a London based fashion photographer. I was born in Panama to a Catalan family but in my early twenties I decided to go back to my family roots and moved to Barcelona, where after a few years I started my photography career by shooting portraits of family and friends. Since then I have lived in New York, France and more recently here in London where I am currently a full-time photographer.
How did you start your career as a fashion photographer? How’d did Grey Pistachio come about?
Well, the concept of Grey Pistachio came before the fashion photography business itself. When I decided to change my life around, leave the job and the industry that I was in at that moment and venture into photography I wanted to create a new persona, a new me. I needed a brand. But my name is in Spanish and sometimes hard to remember for non-Spanish speakers and my last name is hard to remember no matter what language you speak LOL So my brand needed to be something catchy and easy to remember. That is why I joined the two things that I love the most: photography and food, and came up with this name. Grey is an important colour in photography for balancing the whites in a photo and Pistachio is my favourite nut. So there you go!
But even after having the brand name, for me the road to becoming a fashion photographer took many turns. At first I wasn’t sure what type of photography I wanted to do professionally as I enjoyed many different kinds of photography. But while working with people when I was taking their portratis I realised that what I really enjoyed, rather than taking the portrait itself, was thinking on what kind of experiences were those subjects going through when posing wearing a certain type of clothes. What did their styling say about them or what their lives were like… I guess, since I don’t consider myself a fashionable person, I felt attracted to those who had a sense of fashion.
What does fashion photography mean to you?
Like I said before, to me fashion photography is about documenting what clothes make us feel, how we can feel elegant and glamorous while wearing a certain brand or style, or feel fresh and comfortable by wearing another. So by shooting fashion we try to make the person watching the photo imagine themselves wearing those clothes and feeling like the models who are wearing them. It’s an art, but it’s an art backed by an industry which relies on this type of photography to attract consumers to wear their products.
Which photographers influence you, how did they influence your thinking, shooting and career path?
So many! To mention a few: Helmut Newton, Juergen Teller, Testino, Mert and Marcus… but their influence on me hasn’t been on style or technique, but more on the way they live their lives, how they run their business, how they started out. I am more interested in learning from them as the entrepeneurs they were/are rather than as the craftman behind the camera.
What do you want to say with your photographs?
For me photography is not just about the “point and shoot.” For me it’s about representing and expressing an idea, a concept. When I take photos, even if it’s just tests with models, I always try to look for a story behind the photo. So I would ask the models to feel a certain way so they can translate that feeling into an expression. And when I plan a bigger shoot, let’s say, like an editorial, I give a lot of importance to the story behind the photos. Those models wearing those clothes in that location are living an experience that I want to capture. They are not just posing in pretty clothes with nice props and in exotic rooms. They are characters in the story that I want to tell.
Anyone who knows me from when I was young knows that I have always been a creative person. Before photography there was a time when I seriously considered a career in writing. I guess I just had so many things in my head that I wanted to express or to tell stories about that I felt that the proper outlet would be through writing about them. But one thing is having things to say and a different one is having the ability to write about them. And when I took on photography I realised that finally all those stories that lived in my head had a way of coming out.
Can you talk us threw your process you use to set up a fashion shoot?
This is a very difficult question to answer because it is not the same to plan a fashion shoot for your portolio than to plan something of a bigger scale for a client, or anything in between. But let’s say that I am shooting an editorial that I want to pitch to a magazine and it’s a small shoot:
So a couple of months before the actual shoot I think about what I am going to shoot. What is the story behind the shoot, what do I want the models to be doing in the photos, where are those models (location), what will they be wearing that conveys the message that I am trying to express, etc… and with all this information I would create a moodboard.
Once I have the general idea of the shoot I think about when I will shoot (I usually give myself 2 months for a shoot like this), what kind of crew do I need and where will I be shooting this. So I contact my regular team and if they are not available then I would contact people that I have met in networking events or that I have worked with at some point and sometimes even people who have contacted me directly expressing their interest in doing something with me. While setting up the team I start quoting locations.
In the meantime, I usually already know which stylist I will be working with but if I don’t then that would be one of the first crew members that I would look for. Because the stylist will be the one who would translate all my moodboard into the actual brands and clothes to use. It’s also true that at times the stylists are the ones who come to me with a concept they want to explore and we develop it together. So it works the other way around too.
The team is complete, the location has been sourced and the date set. Then I work with each of the team members on coming up with the different looks for the shoot: the different makeups to do, how many different hair styles we will use, how will the video look like, etc.
At this point I pitch the whole concept to a magazine that I have in mind at the moment. I will send them the moodboard (style, makeup, hair, lighting, type of models) and the whole info on the crew and the date and time of the shoot.
And meanwhile the stylist is sourcing the clothes from brands and PR agencies and they show me the different style ideas to see if I like where they are going.
By then a whole month has gone by and then we start looking for models. Depending on the type of model we want we then contact the agency that we feel has what we are looking for.
We are now at two weeks of the shoot and the stylist more or less has decided the brands and styles we will use. We then put the looks together and most of the times we will create a couple of looks more than the ones planned just in case.
One week before the shoot I will confirm crew, location and models and if anyone or anything fails then we still have one week to react.
Two days before the shoot I prepare a detailed schedule for the day: when are we starting, when are we wrapping up, how long does hair and makeup take, how long does each of the photos will take to shoot including changes in clothes and hair and makeup, etc. This will help the whole team know exactly at what point in time we are at each moment during the shoot. I then print this schedule along with the call sheet, the moodboard, the names and photos of the models so everyone knows their names and the concept of the shoot. An informed team is key to the success of the shoot.
The day before the shoot I prepare all my equipment and pack everything I am taking with me, including the refreshments for the whole crew and the models. A fed team is a happy team, and a happy team makes better photos.
The day of the shoot I arrive at least 15min earlier so I am there when everyone else arrives. I paste the printed schedule and the rest of the sheets on the wall and when everyone is there I have a 15min meeting explaining the plan for the day.
The day goes by, we wrap up and the shooting is done. Then I get home and the first thing I do is backup all the photos to my backup disk. And then the selection and editing process begins. Depending on the type of shoot the editing can last from 30 minutes to 4 hours per photo. So the next few days after the shoot I spend them retouching.
Once the photos are retouched I share them with the crew to see if they see something that might need correcting and that I haven’t noticed. Once all the corrections are made, the photos are sent to the magazine and I hold my breath until they give me their approval. And then just wait until the release date of the issue.
Canon or Nikon?
Good! A short question with a short answer! I needed that! LOL Nikon.
Any advice you like to give to aspiring photographers looking to get into the fashion industry?
Believe in yourself, work hard and don’t give up. It’s clichéed, but it’s true.
What motivates you to continue taking stunning images?
Thanks for the compliment! My motivation is inside my head. This is my art and I have a need to express it. I guess I don’t stop because my mind doesn’t let me!
What do you have planned for 2015?
2015 is for me the next stepping stone in my career. I am working with professionals in the industry to build a marketing strategy to get my work out there and attract more and more diverse clients. I want everyone this year to be craving Grey Pistachios!
Below are some of our favourite images shot by the man himself.
We have high hopes for this talented photographer and predict that he will leave a huge mark on the industry.
To see more of Grey Pistachios work, click here.