Jonathan (Instagram @jlu2789) has been taking pictures since he was a little child. He used to steal his mother’s disposable cameras during their holidays around Italy. His never-ending seek of emotions to transmit through his photographs goes through both food and landscape photography.
Can you tell us something about yourself?
That’s a hard question to answer. I try to figure that out each morning when I’m looking in the mirror (laughs ed). After years of working on myself, I can say that Jonathan is no longer just a guy with a passion for photography, but a professional photographer.
How did you become passionate about photography?
My mother has always been addicted to photography. I’ve always used her camera, every time I got the chance. You may be wondering how she found out about me stealing her camera. That’s simple: the minute after the film was developed. Back then, I liked to photograph landscapes, while she’s always loved to portrait people. As soon as she noticed that the photos were different from the ones she took, she would get angry with me. Growing up I have established collaborations with other photographers, and, for about five years, my passion has become a job.
Besides landscape photography, you’re also keen on food compositions. Can you suggest a few techniques to highlight these two different styles?
Food photography is a very special sector because you can compose in infinite ways. However, the large choice of combinations is risky. The important thing is to have a clear vision of the final result before starting to shoot. The key to success is to understand what your customer wants and to find the right balance.
In food photography, framing is essential. Let’s make an example. How can I make a simple cake look delicious and elegant at the same time? With the right framing and some contrasts using lights and shadows, an anonymous photo can turn artistic.
I focus on exposure both in food and landscape photography. The long exposure is ideal for a shot outdoors or in the middle of nature because it gives intensity and loads a photograph with meaning. This becomes vain in the food sector, because, unlike the sky, dishes don’t move. For an indoor composition set, you can play with lights. Practice allows you to figure out what’s best doing and what’s not according to your style.
Is there a common ground between food and landscape photography?
The impact of light is the element that creates a point of contact between these two opposing fields. Playing with lights in food composition, I create soft lighting and shadow effects. In landscape photography, artificial light equals sunlight. In any case, these styles are dynamic and you can switch techniques from one to the other, and vice versa.
What are the details that make a difference in a photo?
The world of photography is extremely personal. Landscapes are my favorite, and that’s why, to me, the sunlight is crucial.
I’m very careful about this detail, and how it will impact the photo. It’s the key to produce a beautiful landscape portrait. On the other hand, if we talk about Still Life, you can choose among many options to compose the scene that you will capture. However, you must know how to select the right ones to get the best result.
What is the message behind your pictures and what’s the photograph you are attached to the most?
Is it okay if I say world peace? (Laughs ed). Jokes apart, there are two types of photography: the one that tells a story, and the one that’s simply emotional. I would pick the second one because it gives me the opportunity to communicate what both me or the subject feel in certain situations (for example, during sunset).
One of the photos that makes me proud the most is also one of the first I’ve ever taken: a sea wave breaking on the rocks. It started as a simple experiment because I was curious about how that little moment, which leaves anyone amazed, would be captured in a picture. A simple test turned into one of my most beautiful and exciting results. It gives me serenity, order in chaos. It’s like the calm before the storm, when the peak is yet to come. I also think that there is a nice geometry, vaguely reminiscent of the golden ratio by Fibonacci.
Instagram is certainly the social network that makes images its characterizing feature. How much do you think that this platform stimulates photographer’s creativity? Or is it that the democratization of photography dumbs down this profession?
On the surface, Instagram is a fantastic place that offers the chance to share and discover new photographic styles from all over the world. This nurtures your creativity. Furthermore, this feature reflects the strategy I followed to grow professionally: being in contact with many photographers. This is the only way I was able to apply their tricks to my projects to improve my technique. Unfortunately, Instagram creates clones, and that’s the other side of the coin. It is now common practice to emulate a style that’s trending without mixing it with your patterns. The result is a huge amount of beautiful photos, yet identic. This makes a photographer’s signature unrecognizable. Finally, the world of photography needs people’s originality. However, it is also important to know the difference between amateurs and professionals.
Could you unveil us your pending projects, and a short advice to all the aspiring photographers out there?
To invest to purchase an expensive camera is not as important as knowing how to handle it.
Therefore, I recommend to master the basic rules, such as iris opening or ISO values. Then observe. A lot. Keep an eye on the photographers you like most and learn their tricks. Refine your style while having fun – only take photos when you’re in the mood. Before the pandemic, I had a couple of humanitarian projects planned. Now I’m on a break, due to the situation we’re living.