Kesler Tran’s entry into fashion photography was straightforward enough. He simply bought an expensive camera, and about five years ago, began shooting import models (used for car shows, trade, etc). This is a method often employed by Asian photographers, to take advantage of the less strigent specifications for height and so on. Now based in Los Angeles and New York, he concentrates on fashion, editorial, and beauty.
We sense an honesty and integrity in his photographs, with an intimacy that invites us into his world. He trawls the web for inspiration, particularly focusing on blogs and social media. In these digital days, he is one of a number of young photographers to experiment with analogue.
Tran’s preference is for natural light without reflectors, and he has a good eye for light and form. His spontaneous way of working can be frustrating for his team, especially as he doesn’t always pick the place in advance. He has to apply more planning in the studio, “mainly because it gets old quick”, but he is constantly dreaming up new ways of shooting.
Refugee, his pictures in the Californian desert, came about when he and three models took a car out, looking for a location to inspire them. The result was simple and unspoiled, yet with a slightly brooding atmosphere that comes across to us. “It was almost as if we welcomed the sunset in a spiritual way, after a blistering 115 degree afternoon”, he muses. Although the team was pared back, and the heat intolerable, Tran couldn’t have been more pleased.
He is renowned for his work, particularly for the way in which he gives his models the freedom to express their sensuality. He celebrates the beauty of the female form at its most perfect. However, artistic though it is, if you don’t like photographs of nudes, or semi-nudes, then his portfolio probably isn’t for you.
For him, the highlights of his career so far have been the helicopter job for Treats! Magazine, the mud shoot, and the yacht assignment, all ideas that he’d always wanted to pursue. With Treats!, his debut came in issue 5, and he still contributes regular exclusives to the website. For his City Slickers feature, he kept it raw and natural by limiting it to photographer and model, with no team and no make-up.
He’s keen for the photographs themselves, rather than body language, to express the emotion. He takes on responsibility for the shoot, relying mostly on his own skill. Shouldering more of the workload himself allows him to shoot with less experienced, and therefore less expensive, models. Postproduction, he merely adjusts colour tone, and removes a few blemishes, but keeps them as they are, as much as possible. He’s satisfied when he captures the eternal qualities of beauty, happiness and sorrow, hoping to encourage us to stop and reflect.
Kesler Tran’s idea of a good image is “more than just about expression, it has to carry a thought behind it, the way it was created, a soul, if you will”. And we can feel that soul.
From His Series Green berries on wild bamboo
Fashion Photography By Kesler Tran Real Life
Russian Model Nastya Karzan Photography By Kesler Tran For Fashionography