Conceptual/fashion photographer Janna Park was always the girl who loved sad movies. She was the girl willing to endure a film that could twist and seize her feelings, keep her locked in the moment, and then quietly leave her. This fascination with heartbreak has clearly inspired her work. Her images revel in that moody veneer: a lonesome look that places shadows over light and uses highly processed textures that rather wish reality away .
Looking at her images, you’ll see Park’s fascination with emotional pull. You’ll see a photographer willing to experiment. And if you look closely enough, you’ll see all those sad movies flickering in the dark. You’ll understand that these photographs are close to Park’s heart. And although she only recently decided to pursue photography as more than a hobby, her work has already been featured by Vogue, Vectro Ave, and Golden Age magazine.
In this interview, Park talks about why she prefers moody looks, explains her approach to direction, shares fashion photography tips and reveals what her dark looks say about her.
Your fashion work is really great. How did you get your start? How would you describe your work?
Thank you! I first started doing fashion photography while I was working on my AP portfolio concentration. I was doing a 12 piece series on the downsides of fairytales, and I noticed that I was implementing ideas and concepts into the pictures that were very fashion-oriented and creative in that way. I would describe my work as a combination between fashion and conceptual. Even in my most glamorous shots, there is an underlying darkness or other meaning.
You seem to prefer moody looks. I really like your dark atmospheres and striking poses/expressions. Why do you think you prefer this style?
Yes! I feel that emotion is what really attracts people to an image. Interesting and semi-awkward poses and angles bring about a unique quality that intrigues the viewer. I was always the girl that loved the sad movies – the ones that could really stir emotions. I love photographing what I feel represents life and challenges and heartbreak and movement.
For the poses/expressions, how much collaboration is there between you and your models? How do you approach directing them?
It really depends on the model. Usually with signed models, I don’t have to direct them at all. I might ask them to wander around as if they are looking for something, or to jump and spin, but they know what they’re doing. It’s so impressive how conscious they are of their movements and their body. With unsigned models, it can be more difficult just because they don’t have that experience. Sometimes I even move the models with my own hands.
You also prefer natural lighting, which can be difficult at times. What is your strategy to taking full advantage of your available light?
I have figured out what lighting goes best with different types of shoots. For instance, for something extremely high fashion, I’d prefer to shoot in harsh sunlight with bold shadows. For a more natural or conceptual shoot, I’d prefer shade or overcast weather. Sometimes I will throw in a backlit photo, but I’ve noticed recently that I’ve grown out of that stage. My favorite weather would definitely be overcast. It brings about a dream-like quality and shows so much depth and rich colors.
The first photo in Book II is a great shot. I love the double exposed texture. Could you explain how this shot was made from start to finish? What was your aim?
Thank you! It is definitely one of my favorites. I was shooting at this very isolated creek in the middle of a forrest with my model/friend Rosie Chilton. I had asked her to lay down in the water for a few shots. That was the easy part. After getting the shot at the angle that I felt was the best, we packed up and went home. I spend about 2 hours editing this one image. I started out by adjusting the curves to a somber and still color range and doing some minor retouching. I took selections of flowers from previous shoots and used a mask and layers to brush them into the image, and then used the mosaic filter around the corner of the image. My aim was definitely to make the image look dreamlike and out of this world. That is my intention with every shoot I do that is based off of something in literature.
A lot of work utilizes skillful post-processing, especially those found in your Collections. Could you give us a quick breakdown of your post-processing workflow?
Well, I’ll start off by saying that I only use Photoshop CS6 to edit my images. I never really got into the Lightroom craze, but I’m sure that will happen eventually. I usually make a new action for each shoot. The first image from a set takes the longest to edit because I am figuring out the right colors and lighting adjustments and other filters that I think are suitable and aesthetically pleasing. After that first image, editing goes by really fast.
I like believing our photos say a lot about our inner world. What do your moody images say about you?
I think about things way too much, oftentimes my thoughts get twisted and confusing and fuzzy. I’d like for my images to reflect that uneasy nature.
What was the greatest lesson you’ve learned thus far in your career?
I definitely think the best lesson I’ve learned is how to take criticism. Although it might hurt at the time, especially on those images you have a strong emotional connection to, it helps in the long run.