With over 15 years of experience, Photographer Benya Hegenbarth shares some practical tips on making it in the fashion industry.
Life has been quite a journey for 37 years old Fashion Photographer Benya Hegenbarth. Having moved away from his home in Thailand to study in U.K, it was during high school that he tried his hand at photography when his uncle gave him a film camera in 1995. It’s not surprising that photography left an impression on him when he was a teenager as he took photos of everything but it was just a hobby.
He progressed onto a Liberal Arts Program in Connecticut, and after graduation, he moved to New York and his interest in photography sparked again. “I landed an internship with an advertising agency and had the chance to assist renowned photographers like Craig McDean, Richard Burbridge and Enrique Badulescu. I learned all the technical side to photography through working for 5 years in New York,” explains Benya.
With 15 years of experience in the photography industry, Benya returned home to Bangkok in 2008 and has established his photography studio. With a bucket of experience and a series of impressive fashion portraits, Benya tells us the story of how it all happened.
How would you describe yourself?
Although I work with a lot of people, at the end of the day, I enjoy being at home with my family and reading a book. I wouldn’t say I’m like a typical fashion photographer, lots of them are quite sociable but I’m a quiet person and activities like yoga. I’m always surrounded by people so it’s nice to have time for myself.
What inspired you to be a photographer?
I grew up watching movies, and sometimes I felt like if I could pause the moment in the movie, it would be beautiful in terms of light and composition. Those are the things that excited me; it feels magical.
How did you start your career in Thailand?
I started from nothing as I came here on my own, but I’m slowly building connections. In the beginning, I did the most obvious thing. I bought magazines from stores that I liked, looked up the contact and got in touch with them.
I was persistent for months. I called up different publications several times and then one magazine was interested in my work. However, this took a few months before they called me back. Soon, one thing led to another, I was introduced to other magazines, and that’s how it started.
What do you think is the primary responsibilities of a photographer?
Each client has different criteria for what they want to see, so you have to talk to your client to understand what they want, It could be street-style photography or a real life documentation, but you have to crack the purpose of your photos. For example, if it’s a fashion shoot, you have to take photos that show clothes. So, it depends on the projects.
The key point is to make the picture look strong and convincing; an image that makes people look twice to understand and not just take a quick glimpse. It has to be well thought out. Of course, there is a part of photography that is very spontaneous.
What is your philosophy in life?
To be true to yourself and do everything with honesty. Don’t take anything lightly or joke about it. No matter how big or small a job is, you have to take it equally seriously. At the end of the day, the work you do represents you.
By saying ‘be true to yourself,’ choose choices that you are happy with. Don’t do something that is in trend and copy others. If it’s something that you don’t feel comfortable with or you don’t like, don’t do it. Your work has to be from you.
What is your goal in 3-5 years?
I’m running a studio business so like everyone else, I would like to expand my business. I hope it continues to grow and that I can still keep pursuing my styles.