You have seen his work everywhere and you know it immediately. It’s colorful, vibrant, energetic, and alive. Everyone is having a great time and being themselves. They are natural and moving, and no one is posed. Models, athletes, celebrities, models and musicians alike are moving, laughing, dancing, and smiling – all for superstar photographer Ben Watts. Who else could get these stars of fashion, music and Hollywood, to be so relaxed and spontaneous? It is a cool and colorful world, and everyone wants to be a part of it.
But how do you go from being a graphics design student in Australia to one of the most in-demand photographers in the world? Ben did not grow up with a camera in his hand, and it never occurred to him to actually take pictures until he took photography as an elective in school. Initially attracted to music, he worked with many different artists until his work got the attention of the fashion world. Along the way, personal projects became published books, like “Lickshot” and “Big Up”, and gallery exhibitions. It all sprang from his passion for shooting things he loved, such as American hip hop and youth culture. An original style and vision has made Ben’s work transcend photography trends and rather than trying to fit a genre of photography, he created his own style, equally fitting to the music world as to Hollywood and fashion.
In Ben’s universe everyone is young and fit and hot and sexy, and enjoying every second of life. Jamie Foxx, Hugh Jackman, Sofia Vargara, Robin Thicke, Katy Perry, Usher, Selena Gomez, Robin Pattinson, Bradley Cooper, Christina Hendricks, ASAP Rocky, for GQ, Billboard, Vanity Fair, In Style, Vibe, and Glamour Magazines, not to mention a constellation of angels for Victoria’s Secret, and supermodels for Sports Illustrated Swimwear Edition.
Flying from one side of the country to the other almost weekly, going from studio to beach in the blink of an eye, shooting a catalogue one day and an athlete the next, requires focus, versatility, and a true passion for the work. Ben’s photography is full on hot and relevant and now. Everyone is beautiful, sexy, living the life and having a good time doing it.
Your images are known for their exuberance and spirit. How do you keep everyone’s energy up while shooting?
Music works, and humor. I choose a soundtrack that fits the spirit of the shoot, and that sets the mood. Humor gets everyone laughing and having fun. I am an energetic person. I hate stopping and starting – it breaks the flow of things. I like to have a snowball effect, to keep things moving and energized. There will be more authenticity of the subjects in the photos if you don’t break the flow. Just keep things rolling.
What are the some of the greatest influences on your photography?
Henri Cartier-Bresson, Helmut Newton, Richard Avedon, Larry Clark, even Stanley Kubrick movies. You might not see these influences in my actual work but they inform my photography on a sub-concious level. Travel and life experiences are irreplaceable too.
Location or studio:
Both, but for different reasons. I love to travel but it is good to come home. NYC is home and it is always good to be back with family and friends again.
Do you have an favorite after-shoot ritual?
It is important to thank everyone and to be courteous at the end of a shoot and if it has been a long production. It’s good to enjoy the location and to celebrate everyone’s hard work. I like to exercise after working too – it rebalances me and helps keep my energy levels up, and clears my mind so I am ready for the next project.
#1 item you take when you travel for work:
Pack your personality! Be interested – and interesting!
One thing most people don’t know about you:
I have my own rosé wine – I love a good rosé wine.
Follow Ben on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter, to have a glimpse into his world:
Facebook Ben Watts Photo Inc