Ross James: Korea-Bound and Busier Than Ever

At the end of June, Ross James and his wife Melissa will be moving to Seoul, South Korea to further pursue fashion photography and projects. FNS is excited to support these Seattle natives as they work abroad, and will be providing updates from this adventurous couple throughout the year of their stay. Also stay tuned to the FNS Blog for Ross James’s Korean street fashion photos!

FNS touched base with the busy photographer at his 619 art studio downtown. He revealed upcoming projects (watch for his DList editorial currently in progress!), introduced his dog Diesel, and spoke hopefully of the trip to Korea.

Photographer Ross James

FabonFrenchmen: Why Korea?
Ross James: I’ve always been intrigued with Asia and have wanted to go there since I was young. I have made a lot of friends from South Korea and developed some photography and fashion contacts in Seoul, so it seemed like a good place to start.

FF: What do you hope to learn & accomplish there?
RJ: Over the last couple of years, I’ve had people tell me that my photography style might do well in an Asian market and with the fashion scene that’s going on there. So I’m hoping to expand my portfolio and hopefully work with some fashion publications based out of Seoul. I’m hoping to learn about their fashion scene and, you know, see if there’s any room in it for me, I guess.
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FF: How long are you planning to stay?
RJ: I’ll be there for at least a year for sure, and maybe another year…who knows?
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FF: Why is it important for you to get a change of scenery?
RJ: I’ve always enjoyed traveling and I basically consider Seattle my home because I’m from the Northwest, but I don’t really feel like I have an actual home. I like traveling around and discovering new adventures. So I want to broaden my experiences to include more extensive travel.
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FF: What do you think defines your style of photography?
RJ: I think most of my style comes from my taste in lighting. I am definitely drawn towards the shadows in lighting, specifically darker mood lighting with almost a film quality to it. I think my favorite part of photography is controlling the mood of the lighting. Also, my style has a lot to with how I almost always shoot on location. If I am stuck in the studio with a backdrop, I really have to try hard to keep interest in it. I really draw my inspiration from surroundings and background.

Who would you like to thank for your success?

I am very thankful for my wife, Melissa, who tries to understand me and encourages creativity.

Who are your influences?

When I first got into photography it was Robert Parke-Harisson. His work titled “Architect’s Brother” influenced me greatly. Now I have a list of influences too long to list!

What are you inspired by?

I am inspired a lot by my favorite music. It can take my mind to its own place where I can come up with new ideas. I also find inspiration in traveling and seeing new places.

When you think of Seattle Fashion, what comes to mind? How would you define Seattle’s fashion style?

From what I’ve seen of Seattle fashion, it seems it has always had an underlying vintage theme. To an extent, you could describe Seattle’s fashion as an “anti-fashion” fashion, which kind of makes sense… refusing to look to the future without first referencing the past.

What tips would you offer models to take a really good shot?

If you’re really thinking of the mood, if you get into it in your head, it’ll look more believable. It’s not just an external thing. People can see through that in the photos. If you’re able to get a good shot only when everyone is focused on you and giving you compliments, that is just the beginning of your journey towards being a professional model.  You need to be able to keep your focus and energy constant even though the shoot has ups and downs.

What is your dream photo assignment?

To shoot an editorial in space and on the moon.

Describe your brand in three words- and explain why/ how you embody these three words.

Shadows, Complex, Location inspired
I choose 3 words that describe my photography style, because to me that is my brand. First, when I photograph, lighting is very important to me. I tend to focus on the shadows. Second, I like concepts that are more complex. I like compositing images and sometimes I like busy scenery. Third, I like being in a unique location to photograph. It also keeps me inspired.

How do ethics play into your business? Do you have a general rule of thumb when dealing with clients and their possible opposing ideas to yours?
The client is your boss. When it comes to commercial jobs I try to measure the job before hand to make sure it is a good fit for me and that it’s an idea I can sign on to.

How much impact does networking have on your brand? In what ways do you network, and which receive the most feedback?
I can’t stress how important networking is. Every once in a while a good lead will come to me randomly on the internet, but mostly they come from the contacts you have made in person.

Where did you start out with your photography/film? As in, what were your beginning steps?

I lived on a small farm in central Washington and started taking pictures of the animals. At the time I was studying music at the university and decided to switch to photography. Quickly after that, shooting portraits and weddings became my beginning steps in my photography pursuit.

Why fashion? What does it mean to you and your work?

Fashion photography has an attitude. And when shooting fashion there is usually an energy between everyone who is working together and everyone wants to get the best results possible. There are other reasons why I shoot fashion but this one is all I really need to keep shooting fashion.

Have you ever started a shoot and felt stuck creatively? If so, what set you free from it and helped you to regain your flow?

You have to find something about the theme or about your subject that inspires you. Even if its small compared to what doesn’t inspire you, just find the inspiration and focus on that

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