Now based in New York City, Joey Lawrence is from a small rural town in Ontario, Canada. Although is father is an airbrush artist, Joey never studied photography formally in high school or college. He did, however, put in an enormous amount of hours reading photography books and studying tutorials on the Internet. “It’s a very technical craft, so once you learn all of that, you can forget about it all and store it in the back of your brain for primal subconscious decisions,” the 21-year-old wunderkind states.
Known as Joey L. — a moniker earned when there was another boy named Joey in his elementary school class — Lawrence has never assisted any senior photographers. When asked about other shooters he admires, Joey L. clearly knows what he likes, and why. “I admire photographers who have a consistent personal style within each new series they create,” he says. “It’s like the sound of a good album — it defines the artist’s sound. I think cohesiveness is also extremely important in delivering something visual. Because of that, I admire photographers like Pieter Hugo, Chris Rainier, and Phil Borges.”
At the start of his photographic journey, Lawrence shot bands in his native Ontario. His first paying gig netted him $50 and a sandwich. These days he shoots cover art for the Twilight series, promos for the History Channel, product shots for Kawasaki, and publicity shots for the Jonas Brothers, among other gigs. His signature style is evident in all: professional and clean lighting, frozen motion, moody shadows, and gritty textures.
Known for his ability to get his subjects comfortable with him before he ever takes a camera in hand, Lawrence approaches both commercial and personal work in much the same way. “Instead of talking to a cast member in the make-up truck to make them more comfortable with me before a commercial shoot, perhaps I will sleep on a shaman’s porch for a couple days before taking any photos,” he says.
Lawrence is almost equally well-known for his tutorials, which now include the DVDs Joey L. Behind the Scenes, Sessions with Joey L., and Faces of a Vanishing World, Lawrence’s educational materials provide behind the scenes breakdowns of all aspects employed to make his images a reality. In future posts, we will be reviewing these titles. Stay tuned for more details.
For both personal and commercial projects, Lawrence shoots the same gear, taking two to three cameras on most jobs. A Phase One P65+ mounted on a Mamiya RZ67 or a Mamiya 645 with a Phase One 80mm 2.8 prime lens is called into action about 90% of the time. He also uses a Canon EOS-1DS Mark III with 24mm, 50mm, and 85mm lenses. He also shoots the 24-70mm zoom and the 16-35mm zoom.
For lighting, he uses whatever will help him achieve the look he envisions. “There is no universal tool that works for everything,” he says. “The Profoto gear I use are Profoto 7B packs. I am very happy with sticking these in a bag and taking them around the world for my personal work. So far they have not failed me, ever. I’m also very interested in trying the Acute series.”
Much of Lawrence’s location work involves water. When asked about possible dangers to gear or himself, Lawrence gets more enthusiastic than even we do. “With Profoto gear, I fear nothing and can do anything!”
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