Portrait Photography And Focusing On Concepts: Interview With Jussy

You always want to be creating work so you can get better at your craft. However, the last thing you want to do is neglect the quality of your content because you’re so focused on the act of creating. LA-based portrait photographer Jussy gave the best advice for a creator: Focus. Pay attention to details AND think about the concepts within your content.

What else did he have to say about portrait photography and where he gets inspiration from? Read below:

Interview with Jussy

What’s something you keep in mind when you’re doing portrait photography? 

I am first and foremost focused on conveying the concept clearly to my subject so we’re both on the same page. After that, I’ll tweak my lighting to make sure I’m catching all of the most flattering angles. Lighting is absolutely key when creating a good look for your subject. I am somewhat beauty focused – so my lighting will typically need to come from above to carve out the jaw and make sure that cheekbone is popping.

When did you first get into portrait photography and what do you use to shoot? 

I taught myself how to “light-paint” with a slow shutter speed with my friend’s camera back in high school! We would spend HOURS trying to get the perfect shots and draw the perfect shapes (think back to Flickr days). I realize now that this was when I realized my heart and mind couldn’t get enough of how to use my settings and how to operate my camera to make a visual that matched what my mind was seeing.
Today I use a Canon Mark IV and my Canon EOS 3 with my 70-200mm, 50mm, and 35mm lenses (all Canon.) The EOS 3 actually gifted by a friend years ago and kind of fell into my lap. It sparked an entirely new interest in film. I started as a digital photographer and find it so pleasing to work with film because it allows me to slow down. The colors are just so creamy and it pushes me to be 100% more critical of my composition, in a good way. A more deliberate way.
I also carry around a small generic point and shoot film camera for daily shenanigans. My “off-duty” shooting if you will. When that inspo hits out of no where…
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What is the one thing you wish you knew before you started taking photos? 

It took me years to learn that it doesn’t matter what camera, lighting, gear, technology, or visual tricks you use. Those things will not make a photo iconic. It’s all about what is IN the photo. Content is king. The styling, location, and concept/mood/emotion going into a concept are the absolute most important ingredients. Use your mental power to plan and concept your imagery – it will take the finished project so much farther. Strip away the bells and whistles of the camera and beg yourself to see the image objectively. The viewer isn’t seeing the camera or lens you’re using – they’re seeing what you can show them. Getting too hung up on that stuff will stifle the message. Tech won’t tell your story. Tech is only a means to paint your message.
Okay I’m done ranting to 15 year old Jussy now.
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How do you balance your work life and your personal life?

This is actually a difficult concept for me to grasp. I’m not very good at separation. What I am good at is absolutely pouring myself into my work, and making my work and relationships personal. I believe this is a strength for me. If you are a true artist, you’re an artist 24/7. I’m still learning daily that life is a dance, and I’m learning to let the dominos fall where they may. I’ve never been one to uphold strict working hours.
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As a portrait photographer, what’s something you hope to accomplish before the end of the year? 

By the end of the year I would absolutely love to find management or representation for my artistry.
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A little outtake from this bop cover shoot 💕 swipe for the official cover @emilyvaughnx 📸 @justingilbertphoto

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Any advice for your younger self or others who are following in your footsteps as a portrait photographer? 

I would absolutely say: 1. Hire a CPA to help with your taxes. 2. PLEASE remember that you are worth far more than what you create!
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Who or what inspires you? 

I’m inspired by quite a few things. I am constantly inspired by the concept of youth searching for truth in this world. Each day we navigate what’s right and wrong and is ultimately what defines us. Visually I am inspired by beauty photography from the 2000’s. Lastly, I loooove a good performance. Dancing, singing, and concept performance are ridiculously inspiring to me. I believe that’s my favorite element of my work.

If you want to see more of his work, feel free to explore his portfolio or his film photography.