BL Creator Interview – Jacob Francois

Jacob Francois is a Haitian American photographer from NYC, NY. He is now based in Philadelphia, PA where he enjoys capturing landscapes and urban scenes that showcase the beauty of our world.

About BL Creators
BL Creators is a series of content pieces where we get personal with industry pros like photographers, cinematographers, creative directors and producers, among many other creative fields.

Discover more Creators here.

1. Is there a single project, photo or video that put you on the map? Please share.

I’ve been on an incredible photography journey, starting with a focus on portrait and fashion photography. However, my interests have evolved, and now I find myself drawn to the realm of documentary photography. I hope to combine my photography skills with the art of storytelling and create compelling short documentaries in the near future.

2. Who are some notable people that you learned from? What did you learn?

I’ve been actively taking photos since 2010, and a significant part of my learning process has been through trial and error. I’ve spent countless hours on YouTube, striving to understand how cameras work and gradually transitioning from relying on auto settings to embracing manual mode. In my journey, I’ve had the privilege of learning from Ricardo Andre, a talented portrait and fashion photographer based in NYC. He taught me valuable skills like composing shots, utilizing the environment to capture the best image, and effectively connecting with my subjects. Ricardo also helped me break out of my introverted shell and establish connections with the people I photograph.

3. How do you stay creative? What are things you do to get inspired?

My creativity thrives on curiosity. I enjoy learning about other creators’ processes, dissecting images that captivate me, and discovering the equipment used to create them. When I’m out and about in various neighborhoods, I take the time to observe how people interact, which areas are bustling with activity, and even the colors and outfits that catch my eye. These experiences inspire me and find their way into my work. There’s something magical about capturing moments that reflect how people live their lives.

4. What is one trade secret you are willing to share with the public?

Adaptability and continuous learning are crucial to my growth as an artist.

5. When and how did you know you wanted to be an artist?

During the pandemic, when portrait photography became challenging, I rediscovered an old film camera that had been gathering dust for years. As I got my first roll developed, I realized my desire to create without the need for a subject in the frame. That revelation marked the shift from being solely a portrait photographer to becoming an artist who seeks inspiration in everything around me.

6. Please share recent work that you are most proud of. Why is this important to you?

I recently created two reels for fitness trainers in South Philly, and it was my first time putting my videography skills to the test. The process of capturing footage and editing taught me invaluable lessons, and I’m excited to further explore the possibilities of filmmaking.

Throughout the first six months of 2023, I captured five images that have become my favorites of the year. What makes them special is that most of them were spontaneous encounters. I stumbled upon scenes or subjects that caught my attention while simply walking around, which doesn’t happen all the time. These images serve as reminders of the beauty that can unexpectedly unfold before us.

7. What is some bad advice you hear given in your field?

When it comes to street photography online you would read people say you need to use this camera with this lens (example Leica M camera with a 28mm lens). When it comes to Landscape photography you have to use Manual mode or golden hour is the only hour.

To be a professional you need the fasted lens nothing above f2.8.

8. Do you feel threatened by all the chatter about Artificial Intelligence and imagemaking? What are your thoughts about the future of the industry? How do you stay relevant?

Despite advancements in AI technology, I don’t feel threatened. I believe AI can enhance our workflow by assisting with tasks like creating captions or editing photos. However, there are certain aspects that require the human touch. For example, AI can’t create images for brand new shops or replace the presence of a human subject in front of the camera, as audiences often connect with the person on the screen.

9. What is something that you always have on set? Why?

When I’m out shooting for hours, either on location or in the studio, I always make sure to have water and a protein bar with me. These quick and convenient snacks keep me fueled and focused, so I don’t waste precious time due to hunger.

10. What is the most under-rated skill in your field? What is the most over-rated?

In my opinion, truly understanding your camera is an underrated aspect of photography. It’s not always about the latest gear or mastering complex software like Photoshop or Lightroom. Instead, it’s about knowing the tools you have and maximizing their potential to create compelling images.

11. What is something people in your field should try to avoid?

Try not to compare yourself to anyone else. This will help your creatively and your mental health.

12. Do you listen to music while shooting? If so, what do you listen to? Can you share a playlist with us?

If I’m outside walking around trying to capture a moment I will listen to music with one ear. It will always be some type of R&B music because it calms me down. I use the other ear to hear what is going on in my surroundings.

13. Free form: anything you wish to share with the world wide web?

Make sure to enjoy what you are creating. The reason why we create is to express ourselves.

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Jacob Francois is a Haitian American photographer from NYC, NY. He is now based in Philadelphia, PA where he enjoy capturing landscapes and urban scenes that showcase the beauty of our world. He is also starting to get into filmmaking.

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