I have a special edition of snapshot for you today – it’s our April catalog photographer (and member of the fp family) Thomas Northcut! You’ve seen a lot of his work here on the blog over the past year – it’s time to get to know the man behind the lens!
You’ve had the opportunity to go on several amazing Free People shoots, is there one that stands out as a favorite?
I’m going to have to go with the Paris trip for the 2011 holiday book because that’s when I got engaged! Plus, we went to Morocco right afterwards which was incredible.
Morocco, Holiday 2011
What is your favorite place you’ve traveled with the FP crew?
As far as traveling goes, Vietnam was the best trip… it was crazy! Every morning we were repacking our bags to catch another plane or train or van or boat… we saw so much of the country, it was amazing.
Vietnam, March 2012
Joshua Tree, April 2012
What was your experience like shooting the April catalog?
It was so chill. After coming back from Vietnam the month before where we were always moving and hustling, the Palm Springs shoot was a breeze! The whole team stayed in a great house (where Taylor Dunfee shot the lookbook), and the desert was just a quick drive down the street. We had good weather the whole time, aside from the crazy desert wind, and the girls were so great…made my job very easy!
All of the shots are gorgeous, but do you have a personal favorite?
Thank you! But of course I can’t pick just one. Here are my top 5 (in no particular order) and why:
The cover: this was when all four girls finally met up for the first time and were instantly close friends. They made the story of “four girls on a road trip through the desert” really click and easy to convey. Their chemistry was so good… so effortless.
Page ten: Luisa in the airstream: I love how much we were laughing when this picture was taken, yet she she looks so structured and sexy. We were laughing so hard during this shot!
Page twelve: Jacquelyn and Kate on the bed: These girls looked so cool and calm laying on that bed together as I clumsily stood over them and took pictures.
Page sixteen: Luisa in the swinging chair: Just the way she looks so confident and carefree… who wouldn’t want to be her?!
Page thirty-five: Jacquelyn in the headdress: she had a very dominating presence about her on this shoot and I feel this shot captured that perfectly.
What kind of camera do you shoot with?
Canon 5D Mark2 usually with the 50mm f/1.4 lens… super basic and relatively cheap.
Free People January 2011 – behind the scenes
Free People September 2011 – behind the scenes
I’ve posted a LOT of your work on the blog over the past year, and our readers always want to know what you do to make the photos so beautiful and dreamy…without giving away your secrets, can you tell us a little bit about your style of photography and what you do to achieve it?
A lot of the “dreamy” effect is from shooting with that 50mm lens at f/1.4. It gives you that super shallow depth of field plus because it’s a cheap lens (in comparison to the 50mm f/1.2 that is five times as expensive). Nothing is really in focus at f/1.4, it gives it a haze effect almost. And then I just push it a little further in the “darkroom.”
Free People May 2011 – behind the scenes
When you’re not photographing models and behind the scenes for FP, what’s your favorite subject to shoot?
I really like shooting people. My favorite part of photography is capturing a moment in time… you know Henri Cartier-Bresson’s “decisive moment,” I love that! Plus, I’m pretty hyper so I love running around and trying to capture that precise moment when someone is doing something really interesting. I don’t really like setting things up… I like capturing things in action.
What do you do to prepare for a photo shoot?
Try to pack the absolute bare minimum clothing and gear. I hate getting home from a trip and still having clean clothes in my bag and bunch of gear that I never touched. I like efficiency… not that I’m that great at it, but I like the idea of it! Oh, and I drink a lot of caffeine!
If you could go back in time to shoot any place during a certain time period, when and where would you choose?
Off the top of my head… studio 54 or 1980’s skateboarding.
Tell me a funny story from your travels with the FP catalog crew.
There are so many great stories but here’s one from the April catalog shoot… after wrapping the shoot we all went to race go-karts on our way home. We got caught in the middle of a crazy wind/sand storm while we were on the track! We all thought it was normal weather but it turned out to be totally severe – the go-kart attendant kept screaming at us to bring our go-karts in but we thought the sand storm was awesome so we didn’t at first. Finally we came in to find out that the power was out in downtown palm springs, fire hydrants were shooting water 50 feet into the air, trees were completely uprooted, and a bunch of car ports had collapsed! Instead of going back to our house and taking cover, we drove through the storm to get burritos in a neighboring town about 20 miles away. When we got there the weather was perfect?!