ONETSHIRT interviews Jesse Frohman

Posted on December 11 2014

Onetshirt meets Jesse Frohman at Colette in Paris during his book signing and the launch of our Kurt Cobain collection.

From the iconic portraits of Kurt Cobain to working on fashion editorials for Harper's Bazaar and Vogue, Jesse Frohman surely has a lot of interesting stories to tell. We sat down with our latest guest collaborator and talked with him about fashion, celebrities, and the art of taking timeless portraits. 

With a background in economics, how did you decide to become a photographer? What prompted you and when did you realize that this is what you wanted to do?

I fell into photography, sort of.  I was considering going back to school to get my MBA but I met a few photographers and since I already had the photography bug from taking a few elective classes at school I just thought I would try assisting for a bit.

I guess I never turned back.

Could you tell us about your experience working with a legend like Irving Penn? What did you learn from him and how did he influence your photographic style? 

I liken my style as somewhere between that of Penn and Avedon.  I love the movement and energy that Avedon captured in his portraits and fashion and I am a fascinated with the composition and detail of the thing itself that Penn was famous for in his work.

You focus on fine portraits. What kind of emotional link do you have to develop with your subjects in order to get the result you desire? Is there a method or a conscious effort behind this?

There is always a conscious effort in creating a connection with my subjects.  The methods may vary however.  Each shoot has it’s own energy and you feed off of that energy and the personality of the subject.  Although I always try to be nice and respectful, sometimes I wish I had a gun to get a more surprising reaction.  I have different tricks that I pull out of my bag depending on the circumstance.

How has the success of that project affected your work?  

That shoot has not affected my work or style of shooting except that I have a greater appreciation for my earlier studio work.

I am personally attracted to portraits taken in the studio even though I love environmental portraits.

Would you like to tell us about your book, Kurt Cobain: The Last Session? What was your thought process behind it and how did you want to approach this project?

Although I clearly had the fans of Kurt Cobain in mind when making the book, I was hoping to create a book that fans of photography would appreciate.  We took care not to make it a typical fan book and went out and got the finest paper and printing and designed the book with a simple and elegant presentation of the images.

You've photographed a great number of celebrities. Are there any interesting anecdotal stories you'd like to share with us?

There are some funny stories for sure - James Brown probably topping that list.  But that’s for another book perhaps.

Who would you like to photograph next and why?

I’m often asked this question and although I have an extensive list, I would have to say the Dalai Lama is at the top.

I love photographing artists and celebrities but when it comes to people I most admire, it is the inspiring spiritual beings that I most want to capture with my camera.

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