Inspirational portrait photography from Denmark
This interview was originally published on the 4th edition Fuji X Passion virtual magazine, among many other interesting articles that you can find HERE
Could you tell us a little bit about Allan Bramsen?
Well for starter I’m 37 years old and a photographer, a father and creative soul. I live in Denmark on a island called Falster, here i live with my 3 kids and a lovely spouse, they all got my endless love. I’m working home the most of time doing websites and photography/retouching, so this with photography is a passion and hobby for me, it what keeps me going on and let me be creative.
How did you start as a photographer?
Back in the late 80s I got a Kodak film camera to do some snap pictures. I remember my dad gave it to me, I kind a find it at that point just pure fun, and actually never came any good out of it, I guess I was to young. First when I did high school and got into a photography class with a teacher who did these amazing architecture and landscapes, he did them on a Kodak Tri-X 400 film and a Canon AE-1. It was back then it found my interest, the thing about shoot 36 pictures film and really think about what you did and when, then go back to the dark room and process the film, no digital age here not even a PC or Mac back then, just the pure chemicals and some patience.
Years later we got into the digital age and wauh 1mp cameras and the chance to do landscape, architecture and portraits digital and se them on PC, that was then I was hooked for sure. Some years later again – think we are in the 1999 – I got a Nikon D70. I back then got into shooting friends and people I pass up on the streets shot a candid photo, did som birthdays, weddings, it all just started real for me there. Portraiture, landscapes and the new found HDR pictures was just me. I went full frame and started to do more landscapes and model sessions, I think I’ve been to all genres and some I still found as my stepping stone.
Some years ago, around 4, I believe I got the X100 in my hand and that little camera took my breath away. Later, the X-Pro1 and a XF 35mm 1.4 joined my bag. At this point i did a sell out of Nikon and more. Fujifilm have taken me by storm, those files it did – oh man i loved them -, you could almost do the picture 100% in camera with the build in RAW converter. I did never use JPG on Nikon, but here it was so tempted to do because they looked amazing, but then I’m a RAW lover and Capture One Pro and Photoshop is my playground. Today I’m a X-Pro2 and X-T1 user and will not ever look back.
How how long have you been doing portrait photography?
Around 10 years on and off.
Of all genres of photography you make – portrait, landscape, street – what is your favorite?
That’s a tuff one. I do a lot of portraits and general fashion, but also street and landscapes and nature. It must be portraits that takes my heart completely, there is some magnetising around shooting and capturing a soul and really show the person.
Who are the photographers that influenced you the most, if any, of course?
Nathan Elson, canadian X-Photographer, he is brilliant and then there is Peter Coulson from Australia, I will say those two top my list. Both doing Black & White like no one else.
You are a Fuji X system user. Which reason made you switch to a Fujifilm camera?
My switch came natural, I was a Nikon user on FF/FX Nikon came out with the D800 but it was a huge chunk of money and 36mp. At the time I did some weddings on full time and full day, it began to hurt in back, shoulders and my right hand was begin to shake a lot and lock up. I saw a doctor and got some test and they find out I had beginning arthritis in hands and shoulder, that was when i thought “ok, let’s give it all up health first”. But a fellow photographer friend of mine, showed me Zack Arias who shoot on this tiny Fujifilm X100 and he got some amazing pictures out of it. My friend bought a used X100 and I borrow it from him and that was finally it: next day I bought a X100 Black and start using it. It was a hate and love when you shot a lot of DSLR, speed and focus was so quirky but it was manageable and there didn’t get long time before all my Nikon gear was sold and a X-Pro1 with the Fujinon XF 35mm f/1.4 and, oh man, it was a nice camera, but as I am I started hated all the quirky things it had. X-E2 and X-T1 came along very quick and also the nice featured Fujinon XF 56mm f/1.2 – that is actually my favorite glass, wonder why. We now see the X-T2 is launched, and no matter how much my X-T1 have been a work horse, it still is and is now in my back as a backup. Yes, I don’t go X-T2 yet. Instead, I bought 2 used X-Pro2’s – yes i did, it suit me so well and with the X-T1, which is still a lovely camera, I manage to have tilt screen and tether. X-T2 will someday be in my back but what i have now complete me.
If we look into your backpack, what do we find?
Well i use 2 bag’s primary.
Bag 1: Lowepro Tactic 450 AW. This bag fits all my primary gear when I use strobes. There is a X-T1, X-Pro1, 2 x X-Pro2, Fujinon 16mm 1.4, 23mm 1.4, 35mm 2.0, 56mm 1.2, 2 x PCB Einstein strobes, Vagabond mini battery pack, ND filters, batteries, iPad, cables, chargers and much more, a very versatile backpack.
Bag 2: ONA Bowery, yes this small shoulder bag fits a lot of stuff, primary its my good to go, X-T1, X-Pro2 and 2-3 primes, some batteries, it’s my ambient light bag to go.
Which is your favourite lens? Why?
That must be a Fujinon XF 56mm f/1.2 non APD. Sharp, lovely bokeh and that aperture on 1.2 is so nice!
How important is it for a photographer to “connect” with his subjects to bring out their true self? And how do you “connect” with your models?
It really is important, some say i talk to much, but 99% of the people I shoot is happy about it, it makes them more comfortable and the connection is suddenly there and the picture is done very fast. Sometimes we can shoot a whole half hour longer because you fast click with the person. Talk and it makes them calm.
We know the importance of the instagram for you. Do you want reveal a little more about this with our readers?
Instagram is here to stay, it is really a nice network and you can show of your work and interact with people. It’s not there I get most of my clients but some, once a week there a two inquiries on a shoot that’s actually nice, even from germany, uk, sweden and oh my russia… I do think it’s an important network and i would love to use it more than I do.
Do you prefer RAW or JPG? Why?
RAW no doubt, it is such a versatile file, you can pull and tear it apart and it still looks awesome, though i do use JPEG straight out of cam to, mostly for street and on the go yes even travel photography, JPEG is good, very good indeed, but RAW is my prime.
And what kind of light do you use more: natural or artificial? Can you explain why?
For the most I use natural light just love to use this, the way you can make the light wrap around your subject, you also have to be able to shoot on different times on the day, also some days with bad weather you have to postpone work because it’s raining and the plan was to shoot the morning light. I also do use artificial, but it’s a small percentage I do use it, but sometimes it is nice to have, do really miss HSS, all other brands got it, almost every brand, yes we got Cactus V6II triggers so it should be possible to use it on Godox, YongNuo and other HSS brands of light. Still wait on my triggers to come.
Could you make a short description of your workflow since the capture to the final results? And which software do you use more?
When I get home I start by backing up all RAW and JPG. After that I use Capture One as my raw converter. Here I do a Session and import all RAW files, I cull and rate them, do white balance and other small fixes. Then I edit them in Photoshop and for the creative mind I use Alien Skin Exposure to get a nice film look and to sharpen them for web and print. This is basic for a session, if it’s a wedding, then before Photoshop I export pictures in small jpg to Pixieset and let my client see them and chose portraits and if there some pictures they don’t want. After that, in most cases for wedding and Baptism, I don’t use Photoshop but do it all in Capture One.
Your models (women and men, of course) usually ask for a “special treatment” in Photoshop? If yes, what kind?
Oh haha yes some do. Men it’s usual there bags under the eyes, and wrinkles they want to get fixed. Woman, oh they can be sometimes funny, breast, stomach, wrinkles, skin, etc. There is a lot there, but I take it as it comes, but find it kind a funny.
Finally, would you like to leave any advices to the ones starting this true passion of Photography?
Believe in yourself, the tool you got in the hand is the best ever. Shoot pictures, over and over again. Rome wasn’t build in one day.
“Photography for me is a way to capture time and a moment, people is my choice of photography, i love portraits that tells me a story, even model and fashion photography is a story for me, i see myself as a story teller in pictures. For me photography is a life long hobby that I started when I was young and have always enjoyed doing, and learning about. It’s more than a hobby it’s a love for photography and taking photographs.”