The Shoot - Mark Asuncion
Fohr Card recently caught up with photographer Mark Asuncion. Only 22, Mark has racked up impressive brand collaborations with Remy Martin, Bremont, Timex, and Cartier. We watched him work on a recent photo shoot, and caught up with a short interview afterwords. Read the full interview below, and be sure to follow Mark on Instagram.
Fohr Card: How did you find photography?
Mark Asuncion: Actually, I picked up a camera back in 2013. I started just taking pictures of my clothes, not on me, just literally product photography. I was really interested in what stories certain clothes had. What that brand was about? Why did they come together?
FC: Had you always liked clothes?
MA: I've always liked clothes but, as you know, two years ago I got into portrait photography. But, I've always been into clothes and products primarily. It's kind of how I got here.
FC: That was your passion then you just found photography as a way to document that passion.
MA: Yes exactly. I found it interesting. Before, I was connecting with brands, and I just wanted to see how brands were telling their stories, and how they made their collaborations. Then from there, I actually got picked up from a Missouri start-up back in 2014, SprezzaBox and I've just been shooting products ever since.
FC: Are you doing this full time now?
MA: Yes, I'm doing this 100% full time. Full time freelance. It's been an absolute blessing. I'm just working with amazing brands and enjoying connecting with awesome people.
FC: I know you were in college up until very recently, right?
MA: Yes, up until very recently. I was studying physical therapy actually.
FC: That was the track you were going to go?
MA: Yes, I was totally on board for that. Even when I was working at SprezzaBox, I didn't really have any full intention to completely cut school and just jump into menswear because I thought it was just a small thing. But it ended up picking up, SprezzaBox got bigger and bigger, I was part of the journey.
FC: That's amazing. At what point, was it still in school, was it after school, then you made the switch like, "All right, I'm going to not do physical therapy, I'm going to do photography."?
MA: It was probably one year into SprezzaBox where I was just like, "Okay, I don't know if I can continue physical therapy because photography is so fulfilling for me."
FC: Were you still in college at the time?
MA: When I was at SprezzaBox? It was half and half, so half of the year I was in school then the other year I worked.
It was crazy because I only had one semester left with biology. I was like, "I don't know if I can stick it out because things are getting really busy. I feel like my career is just about to take off." It did exactly that. I was able to connect with so many amazing people, build my brand, build a presence.
FC: That's great. I've heard James say this a million times, I'd love to hear if you agree with him or disagree with him in your experience. When influencers are making that jump into full time freelance, he'll say, "That jump comes from you. You're getting so many inbound requests, it just makes it natural to go into it full time versus you make that jump early, then you maybe have one or a few jobs, and then they slow down and you're like, "I quit my job. Now I have nothing." What was it? Was it one of those two for you?
MA: I think I definitely agree with James on this. Things had gotten so busy for me that I was just like, "Okay. If I make this jump I'll be more than prepared and ready for all this. I have the clients. I have the work ready."
FC: But how did you get those clients?
MA: It was SprezzaBox. They do five to six grooming menswear items every month. We would pull together a bunch of different brands inside that box. Then from there, I was like, "Oh guys, I create content for this brand. I worked for them as a creative director. If you want I can create it for you outside of that." People at SprezzaBox were more than happy to give me those connections. It really helped me propel my career.
FC: I want to talk a little bit about photography in it of itself for a second. What are you inspired by? I know it's a super open ended but photography-wise what inspires you? Whether, it's a person, it's a brand, it's a space, it's an artist, it's an album. What makes you excited to go shoot everyday?
MA: I think putting together projects that are very meaningful, that can speak a brands voice, is what gets me excited about photography. Just the fact that you can tell a story about a certain product in a way that will captivate your audience and just make them want to buy it and want to check it out. I pull a lot of my inspiration-- I used to do it from Tumblr, Pinterest but now those are dead, Instagram has just been a real big part of that.
FC: Yes, how have you found that niche? How did you find it? How have you seen it evolve?
MA: I've always been into menswear, men's fashion and working at SprezzaBox has helped me develop my own personal style. It was a lot of suiting at the time. I transitioned out of it and I went more into minimalist essentials, like, how can I clean up my wardrobe, tidy everything up after accumulating a lot of things? I found brands I liked and went from there.
FC: How hard is it when you take a fire photo that has nothing to do with your feed, you want to post it but you can't because it doesn’t match your feed?
MA: So frustrating because it'll definitely get lost when I post it. Which is unfortunate, but Instagram stories now really helps you push things that can't live on your feed, push your website, stuff like that. It's frustrating because you want to post something, then, no one reacts to it. That's how I create a mood board now. I just think of everything as a mood board now. You just piece together certain things that work well with each other and play off of that.
FC: I took a few photos of you last week. Talk about how you approach a shoot and your process there.
MA: I always start with the brand. I want to see what they have to say so we have one call, and see what they're envisioning for the project. Then, I go ahead and connect other things that I think would work well. I put together a project deck, mood board, locations, model. Then, I go ahead and go out to shoot. I think doing the mood boards, doing all the stuff prior to the shoot is probably 70% of the whole process because you want everyone to be on the same page, right?
FC: Does going through that process, going into bigger shoots, give you the confidence on shoot day that you can really nail it for the brand?
MA: Yes, 100%. I used to go on to shoot just blind. Just to shoot, so I would say, "Oh. Let's just go outside and shoot this." Like I would play off the surroundings and their outfit and stuff. I just find it so much better to be prepared and nailing certain concepts and the ideas. It just streamlines the whole process because you're not really guessing with the outfit.
FC: Are you going into more studio stuff? What is the next year like for you?
MA: I feel like the past a couple of years, I just rushed out doing a lot of things. I've been doing a lot and I found that just shooting products, connecting with people, is what I love. That, in a sense of getting better at the craft, getting better at telling stories is what I'm trying to do next year.
FC: What about product or portrait photography for you?
MA: I think portrait photography is a little bit easier in the sense because you get to tell the story through the person that you shooting, right? With product photography, it's a little more challenging, it's a little more involved. You have to really think about how you are placing certain things, how you are setting the mood, if you want a place like your glasses, your wallet or something in a shot or like a cup of coffee, to really want tell a story for that. I think that's super interesting.
FC: Anything that you want to add?
MA: I'm really hopeful for 2018, I think this will be a great year for everyone. I'm just super excited for everything.
Follow Mark at @moodsbymark on Instagram