With a camera in his hands since high school, Lonny Spence is someone you can trust to capture the essence and spontaneity of others. Always with an eye ready to see the details, he is able to make of each editorial or portrait a soul print, an intimate moment. This year he framed some fashion weeks’ backstages, showing to the planet that, if well-known publications have faith in his lent, it must be for a reason.
I have been involved in photography for as long as I can remember. I first picked up a camera in high school growing up in Canada, and haven’t put it down ever since.
I guess I would consider myself a fashion photographer mainly. But I like to blur the lines between fashion and portraiture. I think there can be similar elements in both areas. When shooting fashion, it is all about the clothes. So you have to put a lot of effort into making them look perfect and showing them in their best light.
I use the same approach for whatever magazine I’m shooting for, whether it’s a big international publication or a small independent magazine.
The challenge with portraiture and celebrities is that these people have been photographed thousands of times in their life, so getting something new and different out of them can be really difficult. I always try my best to interact with them and hopefully they will lower their guard. It’s then that you can capture a little bit of their personality. I wouldn’t be able to choose one in particular as my favourite, but if I can capture a little of who they are and have them feel relaxed in front of me, then I guess my job is done.
It really depends on what it is I’m shooting. If we are trying to set a scene for an editorial then the surroundings are very important. Whether it is a location or set build in studio, it plays just as an important role as styling, hair, or make up as part of telling a story. On the other hand, it is a real challenge to photograph someone on a plain background and get something interesting out of them.
I tend to be quite spontaneous on the day of shooting. I don’t like to over think things too much, I just see where things can go. Of course leading up to the shoot there is a lot of time put into developing the concepts and ideas, but on the day I like to use my instinct and see what I can get.
Some images are just meant to be in B&W and you know it when you are shooting. Other times, like when you have flat light outdoors, B&W tends to look better, but it really depends on what you are shooting.
I draw inspiration from everywhere. Cinema, books and magazines. Sometimes you can be inspired just walking down the streets in the city.
Backstage is a pretty crazy place. When I was approached by Love magazine to shoot images for them, they told me that they really wanted me to capture the atmosphere and energy of what is happening there. A lot of the photographers backstage are press photographers and they are there to get each outfit head to toe. I often found myself off to the side doing portraits of the girls as they were hanging out. It’s these little intimate moments that made it an interesting project to work on.
Being in the presence of all this amazing clothing you really get a sense of the quality and detail. My favourite has to be the Marni SS16 Menswear collection. I love the colours and simplicity of the design.
I have a love hate relationship with social media. I shut down my Facebook account five years ago because I felt that I was wasting too much time on it. But now Instagram has become a powerful marketing tool for photographers, almost like a mini website. I also have a personal account, so I can share things with friends in different parts of the world. It’s great for keeping up with people.
I just take things day by day, so short term I see myself here in London. Long term, I am working on some personal projects that I am really excited about.
I have always said that my dream would be to shoot a young Mick Jagger.