Interview #27 - Kevin Brent Sanderson

Kevin Brent Sanderson is an aspiring fashion photographer, residing in Manila. If you haven't seen his Favourite Five, here it is.

How are you? 

I’m actually in a great place in my life right now. I feel like I’m on the right path to get to where I want. Equally as important is I’m getting there with the support of the people who mean the most to me.

What’s happening with you lately?

I just finished moving houses! It was quite a lot of work because prior to moving in the new house, we had to put up wallpaper, paint, etc. But yeah, it is also exciting since I get a new environment to shoot in.

What draws you into photography, specifically shooting portraits?

Everyone wants to leave a legacy behind. And I believe that strong photos can fulfil that want to be remembered. 

Do you remember your first ever shoot?

I do! It was for this class requirement back in 2012. It was a photo of one of my close friends smoking by a window. I didn’t know what I was doing back then but it was still pretty exciting.

How’s the photography scene over there in your perspective?

Everyone is helpful here. Or at least the photographers I know. They even do collaborations with one another in order to make shoots smoother. There’s a lot of passion and talent around here. It makes you stay on your toes and keep sharp.

What are your challenges being a photographer?

I’d love to have a stable team to work with. I usually shoot with my girlfriend, who also happens to be a photographer. But we are still short-handed when it comes to the production of the shoot. To find a consistent stylist and make-up artist with the same standard of excellence is the next challenge for me I believe.

In general I think another challenge is how to get your name out there. I’d still love to believe that excellent work will get you places. But unfortunately it’s a mixture of great photos and the network of people you know.

How does the environment you’re living in influence your photography? 

I always make do with what I have. There are so many spots around where you live but since you see it every day, it doesn’t appeal as much to you so you don’t think much of it.

Do you have certain aesthetics or method of shooting?

I want to end up shooting for magazines. So usually when I shoot I always have that in mind. That this layout should potentially look like it could end up in a magazine.

Describe how do your approach your work

I’ve been doing a lot of test shoots lately so I will talk about those. I look for models or respond to ones who inquire about a shoot on Instagram mostly. I shoot either during the daytime, or I do hard flash stuff in the evening. I decide which to do depending on the availability and location of the model.

When I meet the model I do my best to befriend her/him and try to establish comfort around each other. I believe that when you both have a common ground of comfort to work on things go smoother. I also have a playlist on Spotify that I always use when I shoot. It gets really awkward in my opinion if there is complete silence on set.

I send the photos via Google Drive. It’s really convenient for both parties in my opinion.

What’s your post-processing like?

I just use Photoshop actually. And the colour really depends on the mood of the photo. But when it comes to black and white, I do try to keep it consistent by keeping the blacks black and the whites white.

Do you have preferences for choosing subjects or models?

Not really. If someone looks interesting to me then I’d love to shoot them.

Any other works or photographers that you follow?

Mark Nicdao is a huge influence on my portraits. His work is what convinced me that fashion was the road I wanted to take with my photography. Then, there’s Nicco Santos. The way his photos looked so natural made me want to do the same. Lately I’ve been checking out a lot of Mario Testino’s works.

Do you value quality or quantity?

Quality, of course. I’d rather have one great shoot than have 10 subpar ones. Quality of work beats quantity when presenting your portfolio to companies as well.

In what ways that camera gears or cellphone apps matter to you in producing the work?

Photoshop is my bread and butter. I even have it on my phone. Now that there are Instagram stories, instead of capturing straight from Instagram, I use my phone camera then edit the photo in the mobile version of Photoshop. The photo looks a lot crisper that way.

My camera of 5 years actually gave up on me a week ago. It was a Canon 7D. I cried after letting the news sink in. I’ve gotten far with that camera. So it honestly felt like losing a friend. But yeah on a positive note, “full frame” here we come.

Do you earn enough as a photographer?

As of now, not really. But eventually I will.

Who do you think are the audience of your work?

I’m very honest with my photos. The way it looks and feels. I guess the people who value that appreciate my work the most. I often get the feedback that my photos are very classy. Which I appreciate since that is what I aim for.

How much you think people will value your work?

I seem to get consistent positive feedback from the people who matter to me. And I believe that’s enough for me to know that I’m on the right track.

How do you cope in getting the attention through social media or word of mouth?

It is all very humbling. But at the same time, I can’t let it get to my head. Complacency kills consistency.

Any music that you listen to lately? Books that you read? Movies that you just watched recently?

I’ve been listening to a lot of The White Stripes and Jack White. In contrast I’m also listening to Ta-ku and Mura Masa as well. 

The last book I read was one of Neil Gaiman’s. And that was a good 6 months ago.

I’m a huge DC fan. I actually grew up buying and reading the comics. Suicide Squad was okay. It entertained me enough for me not to dislike it.

Anything that keeps you excited in the future?

My girlfriend and I have our work exhibited in a gallery! She paints on my portraits. It’s our first solo exhibit and the love we’ve been getting for it is amazing.

I’m going to have my first shoot in the new house next week! I’m really looking forward to it. There are more things in the works as well. But I’d prefer to keep it to myself.

Any last words?

Thank you for this interview! It actually helped make me think about my process in a more solid way.

You can find more of his work in the following below: