What Photographer Shoots For Vogue Without Lighting A Thing? Meet Alexander Neumann.

What Photographer Shoots For Vogue Without Lighting A Thing? Meet Alexander Neumann.

Hey everyone! I'm Reese and I'm excited to be a part of the Fstoppers team. My segment, The FS Spotlight, is a new weekly Q&A session with professional photographers at the absolute top of their field. The interviews are going to touch on everything from how they reached rock star status to their shooting style to what cameras they shoot with as well as their advice to all aspiring photographers. This week's feature is the talented Alexander Neumann; enjoy!

Alexander Neumann, fstoppers, natural light fashion

Alexander Neumann is living the life. The charismatic, internationally published fashion photographer got his start assisting none other than Mario Testino, and today spends his days surrounded by models and shooting editorials for the likes of Vogue Mexico, GQ Mexico, Dazed and Confused Korea, and Saks Mexico... often using natural and available light. Alexander Neumann, fstoppers, natural light fashion

I had the privilege of assisting Alex for 5 days in South Beach last year, during which time I witnessed him shoot models on a garbage heap, jump out of a moving car in downtown Miami, and bribe a security guard so we could shoot a GQ Mexico editorial in the lobby of an office building... and in trying to keep up with Alex, I personally experienced one of the worst hangovers I’ve had in years.

The most surprising part? During these five days, I never once witnessed him using anything other than natural or available light. Not even a reflector. Ironically, the easiest assisting job I’ve ever had (hangover aside) was also the one where I learned the most about photography, art, learning to “see” light, and trusting your personal vision.
Alexander Neumann, fstoppers, Saks photography
Fstoppers: How did you get your start in photography?
Alexander Neumann: I took a class in school. We had to do a final project, and I found this crazy guy at the beach who was swinging and jumping all the time, and I thought he could be a good subject. He was in a black Speedo thing and had a long beard, and I shot all these pictures of him jumping and making shapes on the rocks. The pictures were amazing. I won a prize for the work, and I got a digital camera and a laptop and that was it! I started shooting everything around me, and I had so many good pictures. I assisted one person and another person, and I haven’t stopped. I took a few digital classes, too.
Alexander Neumann, fstoppers, fashionAlexander Neumann, fstoppers, fashion photography
Fstoppers: Why fashion photography?
Alexander Neumann: I was at someone’s house having drinks, and I saw these books by Mario Testino. They were beautiful. I got inspired and I looked at his work, and I said, “This is really interesting. I want to work for him!” I ended up coming to America, and after 3 years of chasing him here and there, he decided to hire me. And having the experience of working with him - he’s such an interesting person - that’s how I got started.

Fstoppers: Who do you shoot for?
Alexander Neumann: I’m shooting for Vogue Mexico, GQ Mexico, Dazed and Confused Korea, and Saks Mexico.

Fstoppers: What makes a good fashion photograph?
Alexander Neumann: The hair. The hair, the styling, and the model. But what makes the right combination? A beautiful environment and nice lighting.

Fstoppers: A bad one?
Alexander Neumann: A bad fashion photograph... when there is no taste involved in the fashion. There’s something that’s not working fashion-wise.
Alexander Neumann, fstoppers, fashion photography
Fstoppers: When I assisted you, you did an entire shoot for GQ Mexico in the lobby of an office using only the available, florescent light bulbs. Tell me a bit about your approach to lighting.
Alexander Neumann: In my photographs, I try to imitate reality. I make lighting choices based on what I want to go for, choices that will take me there. But I like the “real deal”. I love to use available lighting! Alexander Neumann, fstoppers, fashion

Fstoppers: Much of your recent fashion work seems to use just natural light, mainly direct sunlight. Can you tell us a bit about that?

Alexander Neumann, fstoppers, fashionAlexander Neumann: Natural light is my big thing. Reality is beautiful, I want to recreate reality like it is. I want something beautiful and I love the graphic of that light, and you can create great effects using natural light.

Fstoppers: What time of day do you shoot?
Alexander Neumann: All the time.

Fstoppers: How much retouching do you do? Do you do it yourself?
Alexander Neumann: I hire someone to do my retouching, someone permanent. Three people, actually.

Fstoppers: How do you approach men’s fashion photos?
Alexander Neumann: I think men’s fashion photography is one of my favorite things to do. If the guys look good, it’s great. I like character and men with character; you can get a feel for them from the pictures. And they have less attitude than female models!

Alexander Neumann, fstoppers, men's fashionAlexander Neumann, fstoppers, men's fashion photography

Fstoppers: What’s the best part of your job?
Alexander Neumann: When I’m shooting, that’s the best. When I’m making pictures, I’ve got everything. That’s the best part. When I’m getting the shot and the girl’s giving good energy, that’s what I work for! That momentum and getting that incredible shot.

Alexander Neumann, fstoppers, natural light fashionFstoppers: The worst?
Alexander Neumann: The worst part of my job is editing, I hate editing.

Fstoppers: What’s your advice to aspiring fashion photographers?
Alexander Neumann: Don’t go to New York! You’re going to get lost. Go to Europe. Go to Paris. Go to China. Go somewhere that is not New York... No, but more advice: never have sex with a client! (laughs) But seriously... Commercial and art, you have to have both of those. Place lots of importance on both. Find a balance. You need lots of editorial work to keep up. Don’t just book commercial jobs because you’ll lose something. You have to stay sharp!

Alexander Neumann, fstoppersAlexander Neumann, fstoppers

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Previous comments

The arrangment of the atached images is somehow reverted

Patrick Hall's picture

I don't even know what to say.  Paul, if you know how to format wordpress layouts easily, we should bring you on board as an editor for these. 

Does anyone else even notice this stuff?

Sean Shimmel's picture

Not really. 

Hi Patrick,

thanks for the offering, but I have no expierience in wordpress. This stuff is natural to me, it keeps popping up even if don't want to see it! -.-  Blame my teachers, they tortured me with layout-design. You had to be very picky to avoid red lines all over your layout!

I don't want to be bigheaded. I visit FS every day and I wanted to say thanks for your hard work by leaving some creative thoughts.

I know that most of the people doesn't even notice this stuff, but I think it's not fair to visit your website, take all the information for free, say to my selve that this layout is not well balanced and leave the page.


Marvin Hagemeister's picture

Great analysis! Thanks for posting :) I think it's not really that much of a problem (content is still king), but I see how it would improve an already good and easily readable layout even further. Will keep your tips in mind for my own blog ;)

i would say something..... but I might get 'unfriended'........ anyway, Reese?...damn the torpedos, full steam ahead!!!!

Neil e Gibbs's picture

Fstoppers: What’s your advice to aspiring fashion photographers?

Alexander Neumann: Don’t go to New York! You’re going to get lost

No comments on this one I see.

 What do you mean by editorial work ??

I may be showing my fashion photography naivety here, but what was striking to me was the fact that he hired people to do the retouching and he hates to edit his images. I would think this is part of the process that brings what one sees to fruition - at least it is to me. Regardless, a good first piece!

Antonio Carrasco's picture

I actually like that this article did not focus too much on what brand camera he used or lighting diagrams. There are already plenty of sites on the internet about that stuff. 

John Sammonds's picture

Hi Reese I hope you have a wonderful time with Fstoppers!!

Hi! I know Alex personally. He´s not only very talented, but also a super cool guy. Great post. :)

love to see the images before they have the hell worked out of them in photoshop

Trusting your artistic vision? No. What I see is a photographer who is submitting a poor quality photograph, over exposed, poorly white balanced with the sun reflected on his lens, and calling it art. That model on a rock looks like an instagram photo. I am so tired of Instagram. I am even more tired about fashion photographer passing sloppy technique as "artistry".

If painters were simply just "tired" while the camera crushed their conventions in the last century...

This article is so old last time I read it my pet dinosaur got sick.

Arnold Loli's picture

For all those gear freaks, Alexander use:
Nikon D810
Nikkor 24-70mm f/2.8 ED
Nikkor 70-200mm f/2.8 VRII
Tethered to a Macbook Pro

I saw him recently working in Lima