At wearMEunder we truly value all the collaborators we have been lucky to get to know.
We thought that, with the launch of our new blog the 'WEARMEUNDER JOURNAL', it would be a great way to bring you a better insight into projects, models, photographers, etc which we work with.
For our first post we thought we would introduce to you: KJ HEATH.
We came across KJ's work through a model we collaborate with, Mathew Simpson. From the moment we saw the first image we were in love with his work.
The rawness, sexiness, artistic value are just 3 of the aspects we absolutely find addictive in KJ's work.
Here is what he had to say when we had a little chat with him...
Can you please tell us a little bit more about yourself?
I have two dogs -- Hero and Miss Pickles. The three of us live in Chicago in the River North neighborhood. My apartment is only a block from my photo studio so I have a very short commute. I also own a farm two hours east of Chicago in western Michigan. I'm replanting cornfields with trees in a reforestation project. This year I will plant about 4,000 trees on my property there. Besides shooting in Chicago, I travel to New York City to shoot about once a month. I'm single and a bit of an introvert.
How long have you been a photographer?
I've been a photographer for about 6 years now. Not very long, but I've always had creative endeavours. I went to college on a music scholarship. I've also painted. When I'm not photographing, I run an in-house creative agency for a company.
What or who got you started in photography?
I started a web-based charity event 9 years ago with a photographer friend. The event -- called Barlesque -- took bartenders across the city and photographed them in various stages of undress, or as we liked to say -- from "fully dressed to nature's best". As bar patrons donated online to the charity, we'd post the next picture in the progressively more naked series. My photographer friend had to pull out mid-way through the third year of it, and it was too late to get another photographer to cover for him. I didn't even own a camera, but I decided to try to take over. I went out and bought a camera to shoot the rest of the event, and haven't put the camera down since.
How would you describe your style?
Can you tell us the true basis of your inspiration?
Beautiful men are definitely my inspiration
What type of cameras do you shoot with?
What is your favourite photographic accessory, aside from your camera?
My camera bag. It always has an extra lens, breath strips, a pen, advil, bandaids etc.
If you had to choose one lens to shoot with at all times which one would it be and why?
I love my Zeiss lenses.
What lighting equipment do you use on your shoots?
I love natural light photography, but I also love working with studio lights. I have five of them in my studio.
How important is Photoshop in your final images?
I use photoshop minimally. I'll do minor adjustments to lighting, color and erase blemishes if the model has them. I don't do much else. I hate over-photoshopped faces or bodies that have been manipulated beyond recognition.
Can you briefly describe to us your photographic workflow?
I spend several hours in planning a shoot -- sets, clothing, lighting options, locations. The night before a shoot, I'll usually go to the studio to set up. On the day of the shoot, I'll generally photograph for somewhere between 3 and 4 hours. I rarely photograph longer than that. Usually right after the shoot, I'm completely exhausted so I'll take a two hour nap. Then I'll get up and download all the photos. I'll try to pull one or two shots and edit them to send to the model so they can see a sample since I never let them look at shots during the actual shoot. It usually takes me 4-5 weeks to get photos out. From a typical shoot, I'll end up with 15-20 shots I'm really happy about. Those are the ones I'll send to the model or the agent.
How do you feel about cropping images?
Hello my name is KJ and I'm a cropaholic. I love tight cropping my photos.
What gives you ideas and inspires you to create such great work?
I get inspiration from such a wide variety of things -- architecture, nature, other photographers, a piece of fabric. I often get inspiration directly from the model during the shoot. I photograph a lot of professional dancers and they way they can move their bodies always gets my creative juices flowing.
What has been your most memorable assignment to date and why?
I would have to say it was the time I was photographing a guy named James for the Barlesque charity event. James took off his shirt halfway through the shoot. As I was shooting him shirtless, I noticed a scar on his chest close to his pectoral muscle and asked him if he wanted me to leave it in when I was editing the photos. He said yes and to leave the one on the other side in as well. It was at that moment I realized that James was a transguy. I had absolutely no idea before that. James then told me his whole story and it was really inspirational.
Where would be your dream destination to shoot in?
My dream destination would be the island of St. Barts. I love the caribbean as the natural light there is just amazing.
What is your favourite image you have shot recently? (Can you describe its creation in regards to location, lighting, composition etc., also your thoughts when creating the image and what it means to you?)
I recently shot a photo of the Chicago River from a bridge just a few blocks from my apartment. It had been very cold for the few days leading up, but it was warmer that morning and the layer of ice that had formed on the river was starting to break up. The ice fragments looked like a mosaic. The grey of the chilly winter morning, worked perfectly with the cool grey of the ice in the water and the grey of the city's skyscrapers lining the river. I love photographing my home city almost as much as I love photographing all the beautiful models. The city constantly changes and provides never ending inspiration.
A photographer that inspires me... Matthias Vriens-McGrath
Anyone or anything I would love to photograph would have to be... Male supermodel Chad White
If I was going to advise somebody who wants to pursue photography I’d say... Do it for the joy of creating something, and not for the money
If I could be invisible for one day with my camera… I'd hang out at Zac Efron's house
I’ve learned the most from… Just experimenting
If I had one other talent I’d like to... Be able to sew
Something I'm still learning... How to forgive
Something I find overrated... Donuts with bacon
If I could have lunch with anyone (dead or alive) it would be… (and why?) My grandmother. She passed away about ten years ago. She and I were very close. She died right as I was starting to figure myself out. She always loved me, but I think she'd like me better now.
My all time favourite movie has to be... I never go to movies.
if I had one wish… I'd wish for more than one.
Between MAC or PC… MAC
If there was one thing I wish I knew when I started taking photos... Don't be afraid to experiment, and always take one more photo than you think you need.
We would like to thank KJ HEATH for his incredible support.
You can also see more of his work on Instagram.
We would like to give a special thank you to the models featured on this article as well:
Leave a comment and let us know what you think of our first article. or if you have any questions for us at WEARMEUNDER, for KJ HEATH or any of the models...