Julian Benini is a freelance photographer & art director based in Metz, France. We talk with Julian about quitting your job to go freelance, a love of prime lenses, addiction to fashion magazines and winning the Vice Magazine photography competition…
Tell us a little bit about yourself and how you first got started in photography.
I’m Julian, a freelance photographer based in the east of France, close to the border with Luxembourg, Belgium and Germany. I started taking pictures when I was around 18; I was in Art School studying to become an Art Director and we had some optional lessons in analogue photography that I decided to take. It was a really great discovery for me and, from then on, I never stopped taking pictures! Somebody offered me an old Zenit and I also bought a Lomo Camera; I started taking pictures of my friends first, usually taking them in daily life, then while traveling when I was filming for my brother (who is a Director).
After that, I decided to pursue my own photography professionally. I was an Art Director in a little communications agency but my passion for taking pictures was too ‘invasive’ so I quit my job to become freelance. I started taking pictures of live shows and parties and I have since developed my skills to work in fashion and blogging.
How would you define your photographic style?
I’m not sure I have a ‘photographic style’ really! I think I love the human side of photography; I’m really enjoying taking photos of people – I love directing models to get what I have in mind. Whenever I decide to shoot, even on a spontaneous shoot, I always have a lot of model/photographer images in my mind that I can easily use to direct the shoot in the way that I want. For the technical part, I really don’t care about the latest camera or lens, I love working with prime lens – my 35mm on my Mark 3 is my best friend! With it, I can stay focused on the model. I try to shoot a lot in natural light, I think it is always better than with my Profoto flash.
Who or what are your main sources of inspiration?
Fashion Magazines! I’m really what I would call a magazine-a-holic! We can find so much inspiration and so many ideas in magazines, from mainstream ones to little hard-to-find fanzines – and a picture always looks better printed on good paper. Tumblr, Pinterest and Instagram are really cool to find inspiration too, but the internet is going so fast that I don’t have time to check what’s happening on it every day. I find a lot of my shooting ideas around me, from people I see at a strange party or in the street…and, of course, I have some idols in photography who inspire me a lot like Rankin, Mario Testino and Bettina Rheims for example.
Which single image are you most proud of and why?
I’m not sure I have one… but, a few years ago, I was taking a lot of pictures of live shows for magazines and I was so bored always taking the same shot that every other photographer took, always the same angle (you don’t have a lot of choice in front of the stage!). Then I decided during one show to take just the sneakers of the band, really changing the style of my live show pictures. I sent one of these to Vice Magazine and I won a great competition of live show pictures. It was a really great honour to be chosen and be published in their pages! I think I’m most proud of this picture because it was really a personal vision; it’s ‘technically’ not perfect, but the awesome Gavin Watson chose it because it reminded him of the kind of pictures he would take too!
What would be your dream photography assignment?
I really dream to be published in magazines… to be called by a fashion magazine that I love would be my goal! I don’t really know the key for that; I hope one day someone will see my work and love it… you never know what can happen with internet and social media! For now, I’ll keep dreaming…
Are you currently working on any big projects that you can tell us about?
I don’t have huge projects that are coming soon but just last month I finished my first advertising photography for Nissan (for the Champions League) of which I’m pretty proud. I just made the cover of a French girls magazine with a blogger I work with, and soon some of my pictures of the same blogger will be published in a magazine that I really love… that will be really cool! But I’m sure the best is yet to come!
See more of Julian’s work at:
All images copyright Julian Benini.