It’s no surprise that the pandemic has negatively affected art creators—especially photographers. To be a photographer is to be behind the camera, capturing the world around you. For many creators, the beginning of 2020 brought disappointment (for obvious reasons). But not for photographer Nick Onken who redefined a ‘normal’ photoshoot experience.
Meet Nick Onken
Nick Onken is a NYC-based photographer, creator, and entrepreneur. Passionate about creating and helping others create, he produced the NIONlife community; a safe space for creatives to discuss their work and make connections. He also hosts his own podcast Onken Radio that “is about exploring life through the lens of creativity.”
A photographer since 2005, Onken has shot with some of the world’s most favorite brands and companies like Nike, Coca-Cola, and Walmart. He also has had the opportunity to shoot with celebrities such as Justin Bieber, Jessica Alba, Usher, and Alfredo Flores (featured in Nude magazine). Now, his photoshoots are a bit different—being that they are on FaceTime. Recently, I had the honor of virtually and safely interviewing Nick Onken to get the inside scoop about his new project.
“My New Quarantine Project”
Throughout the pandemic, all of our lives, including Onken’s, was put to an abrupt halt. Creatives were particularly put in a tough position. I mean, how can a creative create while being isolated at home? With the production of new content and creation paused, Onken in the podcast Coronamania: From Survival to Creation speaks about breaking the “creative quarantine funk” during the pandemic. This lead him to ask the question: “what was a way to keep my career thriving while being healthy and safe?” Being one of the most successful photographers in the industry, Onken answered his question with FaceTime photoshoots in April. Thinking of the financial hardships the pandemic has put the world through, Nick Onken was generous enough to not put a price tag on the shoots. Instead, his main goal was to put his talent to use behind his camera—and the FaceTime camera.
It’s clear Nick Onken doesn’t let anything stop his creative mind, not even quarantine! After figuring out his new project, Onken shared his journey with Instagram through the hashtag “#OnkenFaceTimePortraits.” Despite him and his models being in quarantine, his photography skills made the dull routine of everyday life look effortlessly graceful. Fortunately, he shared his exact process of doing so.
Behind the Scenes of a FaceTime Photoshoot
I know what you’re thinking. How could someone pull off a FaceTime photoshoot? (especially considering all the work that’s put into a regular photoshoot). Luckily enough, during our interview, Nick Onken was pleased to share his “secrets” behind his FaceTime photoshoots.
A FaceTime photoshoot with photographer Onken isn’t anywhere close to your average FaceTime calls. After explaining everything he has accomplished, I hope you didn’t think this was just another average photoshoot. For starters, Onken would ask his subjects to familiarize him with their homes. This was essential as he didn’t have the opportunity to be in person with his subject and conduct his normal photography procedures. By doing so, he was able to choose which areas in the home he thought were the perfect fit for shooting! After all, the success of this photoshoot was dependent mostly on the subject and the amount of lighting each area had. Everyone knows horrible lighting makes for a horrible photo.
Many people may wonder, how do you capture your subject on a FaceTime video call? Onken had it all figured out. If you were thinking a “FaceTime photoshoot” was just him screen-shotting on his device… you are in for a surprise. Onken is no amateur. As I said previously, he treated this project just like any other photoshoot he would do. He took matters into his own hands (literally, he used his photography camera) and captured everything shown on the device via a FaceTime call! Don’t worry, not everything is perfect and as simple as it sounds. After all of this, Onken headed to Lightroom to edit everything he had captured. For those wondering, Lightroom is one of the best editing applications used to quickly fix horrible lighting or quality. Onken personally chose to use this on his photos and give it the 35mm vintage film look. Might I add, it couldn’t look any better!
Having a hefty collection of FaceTime photoshoots, naturally, I had to ask: “Who was your favorite person to work with during this project?” His answer came quick without any hesitations. Nick said June Ambrose. His answer why was simple—her stunning closet! She had a significant collection to work with and Onken just couldn’t pass that opportunity up!
The Nick Onken Effect
During quarantine, we can tell that many other creatives were inspired by his FaceTime photoshoot idea. Every, if not most, photographers thought this was inspirational and got behind their devices and lenses! Creatives such as Nina Weinstein and Alessio Albi have hopped on the quarantine trend.
Although Onken prefers in-person photoshoots over FaceTime photoshoots, he admits this was a fun project As a successful photographer, Onken has some advice for upcoming photographers—particularly during the world’s current climate—pivot and continue to work on personal projects. When you think the world is giving you an obstacle you can’t handle, keep creating.
Featured Image From @thisisclay