Photographer Spotlight Faran Najafi
With splashes of color that mesmerize the viewer, to stellar monochromatic compositions – Faran Najafi’s body of work intertwines form and style seamlessly. Faran is a California based Photographer and Art Director. His photography is simple, clean and modern. His love for architecture is often integrated with his photography concepts. He is a published Art+Commerce, VOGUE.IT Photo, and American Salon photographer. Traveling always inspires him and allows him to stay connected to people of all cultures for an international eye for photography. We recently sat down with Faran to discuss his travel, equipment and creative approach.
You recently wrapped up a trip to Iceland – which seems to be one of the top photographic destinations in recent years. Tell us more about your adventure. Was it everything you hoped for?
Iceland was on my wish list for a long time and seeing images of its beautiful landscapes inspired me to plan a trip at the first chance I got. However, I wanted to visit and photograph Iceland during winter, to experience and document the monochromatic tones and snowy mountains instead of waterfalls and colorful lands. Of course, weather conditions made this trip quite challenging and I had to adapt to the severe conditions accordingly. After a 16 day stay in Iceland, I could say it was one of the best journeys of my lifetime, capturing amazing moments from the stormy Atlantic Ocean to the dancing northern lights. Overall, the outcome of this trip was very rewarding on many levels.
Tell us more about your lighting approach with your beauty and nude work. Do you have any favorite lighting setups or modifiers that you work with?
In my humble opinion, lighting is the most important part of studio photography. Lighting is very similar to sculpting highlights and shadows on your subject matter’s face and body. Proper lighting techniques and equipment can elevate the quality of a photographer’s work to the next level. I have been using Broncolor lighting for a while and I really like their powerful and fast power packs in combination with Broncolor Para 88, and Para 222 modifiers for most of my studio work.
Why Capture Integration? What made you select us as a partner?
Capture Integration (CI) has always treated me like a family member. I have received the best support and advice prior and after acquiring any equipment from a simple light trigger to the most complex Technical Camera setups, etc. Their support and sales teams are available to answer my requests over the phone, text or via email all the time. In addition, CI’s rental division is one of the best in the nation with a wide range and variety of Technical Cameras, Medium Format backs and lenses. I truly trust CI, and look forward to continuing my relationship with their team for many years to come.
I know that you use a wide variety of camera systems. Do you have a current favorite?
I have been very fortunate to own, and use many different platforms Including Hasselblad H4D-50, Leica M240, Monochrom M, Monochrom M246, Alpa Technical Cameras, Leica S007 and last but not least Phase One XF IQ3 50MP system.
It’s really hard to say which one is my current favorite but after years of using these systems, I came to the conclusion that each platform has its own strengths, advantages and capabilities for my work.
For Architecture, I mainly use my Alpa MAX + Rodenstock 40mm/70mm lenses with Phase One XF IQ3 50MP digital back setup followed by the new Leica M246 Monochrome with 21mm and 50mm lenses.
For landscape, I enjoy using my Alpa TC with its wide range of high quality lenses accompanied by a Phase One XF IQ3 50MP digital back. And as a backup for challenging conditions I mainly use a Leica S007 for its solid build, durability and high quality lenses.
For Fashion and portraiture, I mainly use my Phase One XF body coupled with 80mm, 110 and 150mm LS lenses plus my favorite Phase One XF IQ3 50MP which offers a great dynamic range and sensor quality.
Your work features a large, strong selection of monochromatic images. Is this an intentional choice, or something that you handle in post-production? Have you ever used a monochromatic sensor?
I love the clean look and feel of monochromatic photos. As a professional designer, the less distracting appearance of monochrome images create a unique connection between the subject matter and myself that is hard to describe but it follows my philosophy in design: “less is more”.
I have used both the old Leica M Monochrom, and the new Monochrom M246 for a while and the lack of capturing color on the sensor pushed me to focus more on the lighting, contrast and the structure of the scenes.
I use both Capture One Pro, and Adobe Lightroom for my post process work and converting color images into black and white. For the Leica Monochrom images I mainly use Adobe Lightroom, since Lightroom offers a wider range of lens profiles for this specific system.
I’m looking forward to Phase One’s future development on the achromatic back based on CMOS sensor technology.
What are your go-to setups for your architectural and landscape photographs?
I have used multiple systems for shooting Architecture but Alpa cameras bundled with their superb Rodenstock lenses are the best for the job. Minimal vibration on the body, offering tilt and shift movements and the process and workflow of the setup makes the experience very unique with outstanding results.
Who / what are your inspirations when designing a concept for a shoot?
Nature, and architecture are two major sources of inspiration, which influence my concepts. I’m also inspired by the work of these masters in the world of fashion and portraiture photography: Herb Ritts, Nick Knight, Steven Meisel, Mario Testino, Peter Lindbergh and Ralph Gibson.
Looking forward, what other subject matter are you planning on exploring?
I’ve become very interested in Aerial photography for its unique point of view. The freedom of composition, scale, ratio and its abstract angle from above in relation to our daily life is what makes it very compelling.
Generally, how does your creative process work?
My feelings and mood have a direct impact on my vision. They in turn, are reflected throughout the entire creative process. From the location of the shoot all the way to color grading and post processing of the images.
To support my concepts, I usually set up a mood board and communicate it back with my awesome creative team and we collaborate over the various ideas to finalize the details.
Here are some shots from the “Hotel Series” impacted by feelings and emotions.
Has your heritage and travels influenced your creative approach to photography? If so, how?
Indeed it has. Growing up and living in several countries and interacting with diverse cultures with rich histories through my travels, has enabled me to have a deeper understanding of various lifestyles and beliefs. As a photographer, this extended knowledge has influenced me to capture stronger stories. Whether a simple landscape shot in Iceland or a sophisticated traditional ceremony in the Middle East.
I would like to thank the Capture Integration team for featuring my work and giving me this opportunity to connect with their community and audience.
Please feel free to visit and follow my work at:
Landscape and Architecture: www.faran.gallery