Every photographer’s vision is to produce art in a way they know best, but what inspired them to pursue photography really? For photographer and research analyst Justin French, it’s “interest in different publications.”
What started out to be a means to have fun or creative release has become both a hobby and a challenge that motivates and stimulates French on a daily basis.
“It wasn’t an initiative of my own,” says French, “Getting into photography is more so a reaction to what these interesting publications are giving. I think initially it was petrifying because it wasn’t anything I have ever encountered before.”
French recalls for Marcom Weekly how his getting into photography was a “complete accident” as he was doing so many things when he had his fresh start in the industry. He worked permanently as an analyst in corporate and digital analytics, where he spent seven years before going into data analytics. “It was a thing where I was only using photography as a creative output to rest from my day job.”
The years he spent in another industry prior to pursuing photography all trained him in building his confidence in a lot of ways because of how important it was to communicate with and reach out to external people. The transition from being a data analyst into being a photographer was a slow transition that kept him humble, eager to impress himself and to improve his ability.
Enjoying the freedom in doing photography as he wants it, French says he, “appreciates how there is just comfort and no insecurity.”
Since it wasn’t his profession, he is able to practice it without expectations or someone being critical of it.
As a photographic artist, French has worked within fashion, portraiture, editorial and commercial image creation. A team player in the field, he has been publicized in American Vogue; Interview Magazine; Sedition; Suited Magazine; King Kong Garçon; I-D; Dazed; Vogue Italia; Feature Sense; and the British Journal of Photography. He also has work exhibited in Red Hook Labs; MoMA; The New Museum; and The Tate Modern London.
French admits that the majority of the challenges are pretty much inward and has everything to do with the individual himself. As an example, he used the opportunities that will arise where one will struggle to decide whether to get or not. Believing that the biggest challenge is one that comes from within, he says, “having enough emotional security to believe in yourself is very important and having emotional security to reach out to people.”
For French, artistry is a service to people that is catered towards viewers and making sure they are pleased.
“It’s trying to make sure that the images feel modern but also very classical in the sense where someone who’s 15 or 70 years old can look at it and have some sort of resonance or connection to it.” A personal goal and challenge for him is to make sure he can figure out ways to bridge the imagery.
When asked about his perspective on diversity and inclusion in creative industries, French tells Marcom Weekly, “It needs to be coming from a very genuine place. I don’t think it’s something that can be forced. We have many companies and agencies that are trying to be beacons of diversity and inclusion and it just doesn’t show because the organization never really had a culture of actually being inclusive to begin with.”
His fear is that these organizations don’t particularly have a natural curiosity toward what diversity and inclusivity require because they’re doing it from a reactionary point of view, when it has to be an inherent and natural trait. Otherwise, he believes it will never really resonate properly.
“For those companies that were always very inclusive, open, and receptive to diversity, I think it already showed if it existed because the way the company works will reflect it,” he added, “everything will reflect it.”
In order to really start any kind of progress in that perspective, French suggests that “the people who are in these companies need to be those with fresh perspectives and actual minds that are very much accustomed to inclusivity.”
On his advice to those who aspire to become magazine photographers like him, he tells them to find that sweet spot of feeling during a shoot where everything is just right. “Find what that is for them, because nothing should really matter except that moment.”
French also encourages them to just enjoy and have fun. “Just genuinely really enjoy the process of image-making because image-making is like making magic if it works. If it actually works, the imagery can transport you anywhere. You can actually escape. That’s the most important thing—to enjoy the idea of creation.”
Karen Gail Javier
Karen is responsible for editorial support and covers agency, digital content, and D&I news.