JC, welcome to FujiLove! Can you tell us a little bit about who you are and what you do?
Hi and thanks for having me. My first name is Jean Claude but everybody calls me JC. I was born in France and my home has been New York City for quite some time now. I started working as a photographer in the late 90s. I also lived and still work as a photographer in Paris, London and Los Angeles.
How did you get started with photography and how have you developed to where you are now?
I got my first camera when I was around eight years old. I collected coupons that were nestled inside of chocolate bars and once I had enough, I was able to choose a gift. Out of all the items listed, I chose an Impera Indo camera. And I still have that camera today!
I never thought of becoming a professional photographer until the day I came to NYC. I was twenty years old. The electricity of the city woke up a curiosity in me and I got my first assignment through the likes of magazines.
Curiosity and a reflection of the times in which I live are a great asset to my work. My photography allows me to meet people that I would have never come close to otherwise. From A-list celebrities to death row prisoners in Texas prisons, it has been an interesting journey.
What motivates and inspires you as a photographer?
New York City and my family are my main motivation. There is no better way to get up in the morning. A photo assignment is short-lived and you always need to find the next one.
The streets of NYC, artists, performers, dancers and writers etc,. as well as my travels are a great source of inspiration to me. The best scenario is developing a photo shoot idea with someone based on their work.
You have shot some wonderful portraits of some really interesting people. Are there any particular people and/or moments that have stood out to you over your time making people’s portraits?
One of my first photo shoots was with Michael Stipe of REM that landed on the cover of The Face magazine in London followed by a cover of Spin magazine in the US. That was in the late 90s. I owned one camera, two lenses and a small flash at the time.
Based on these two career-changing covers, I always remind myself to KISS (keep it simple, stupid!) when I show up to a shoot. A big budget doesn’t guarantee a great shoot.
There are many other stories I could share. But starting my career in such a strong way is still very special to me.
What advice would you have for connecting with your subject when making portraits?
Don’t be intimidated by your subject and express your ideas even if they seem out of place with everybody surrounding you the day of the shoot. Don’t stay in your comfort zone. I try really hard to make an idea happen and like to think there is a collaboration between my subject and myself.
How did you come to start using Fujifilm cameras and lenses, and what is in your camera bag currently?
I first want to say that I have shot many jobs with different brands of cameras. I owned a Canon system (from the first 5D till the 5D mk IV), the Hasselblad H2 system (made by Fujifilm) using Phase One backs. I rented a newer Hasselblad and Phase One camera system depending on my clients’ needs.
But I always loved the look of the Fujifilm X cameras. The classic design reminded me of the Nikon FM2 or F3 of my youth. I was drawn to the colour palette (especially as it pertains to the ranges of diverse skin tones) that comes out of these cameras. I started with the original X100. But I never considered using Fujifilm as a professional tool until Capture One supported Fujifilm.
My first pro- shoot using Fujifilm cameras was a TV-film promo with the GFX 50S system and I loved the results. I sold all of my Canon gear and bought two X-T3 bodies with few lenses. Fujifilm lenses are solid performers – just fantastic!
In my bag I usually carry two X-T3 bodies, the XF56mmF1.2, XF35mmF1.4, XF16mmF1.4 and XF23mmF2. I also alternate with the XF10-24mmF4, depending on my needs.
JC Dhien is a professional photographer based in NYC, specialising in portraiture and fashion. He also shoots reportage when the time allows, as well as directing short films. His love of photography, the places he discovers and the energy of the people he meets are his main drives. Connect with JC on his website and on Instagram.