The titles of software developer and fashion photographer don’t often go hand in hand, however, after working as a software engineer for seven years, Onin Lorente has successfully found a way into the world of fashion photography by teaching himself how to conquer the camera.
He first set up a fashion website, collecting works of his favorite style editorials ranging from Peter Lindbergh, Paolo Roversi, Steven Meisel, and Yelena Yemchuk among others. “I love their works. Their fashion shoots not only showcase clothes or trends, but also depict stories and dreams, which I find inspiring and beautiful.”
When he upgraded his camera to the Nikon D90 in 2010, he officially began his journey into photography. He started to capture subjects manually, depending on the lighting condition and mood he wanted to achieve. By taking street style photos and portraits, he gradually prepared for the big career transition.
To Onin, fashion images go beyond the garment. An inspiring fashion piece should also contain a strong creative direction, the right styling, hair and make-up that compliment a captivating model, and a stunning location to tie it all together.
Left: One fine day with Paul Carrigan for Esquire Singapore - Nikon D810, ISO 500, f/9, 1/500s, AF-S NIKKOR 24-70mm f/2.8G ED at 40mm | Right: One fine day with Paul Carrigan for Esquire Singapore - Nikon D810, ISO 500, f/9, 1/500s, AF-S NIKKOR 24-70mm f/2.8G ED at 70mm
Left: Wanderlust with Oliver Greenall for L'Optimum Thailand - Nikon D810, ISO 400, f/9, 1/160s, AF-S NIKKOR 24-70mm f/2.8G ED at 70mm | Right: Wanderlust with Oliver Greenall for L'Optimum Thailand - Nikon D810, ISO 500, f/9, 1/200s, AF-S NIKKOR 24-70mm f/2.8G ED at 32mm
The process to producing fashion photography is also fascinating. He is hands-on with all aspects, including creating the mood board, casting models, organizing the team, working with stylists on attire and scouting for locations. The process usually takes 1 to 2 weeks, and it is important for him to make sure that everything is aligned with his vision, without compromise.
Onin travels all over the world for his shoots. Sometimes he does research or asks friends for suggestions after his mood board being finalised; other times, when he finds somewhere truly unique, he creates a fresh concept based on the location. For his work, he needs different spots for different stories and concepts every time; and Onin usually seeks out the natural, exotic, otherworldly and mysterious places as these enamor him most. “I love locations that make me dream.”
Picking out the right locations is just the start. The biggest challenge for fashion shoots whilst out in the field is to get the entire team, equipment and clothes ready to move from one place to another. Not an easy task and this is wherehe relies on his team to stay organized and work seamlessly together.
Nature can always help to create poetic sceneries, however it can also prove troublesome. When Onin was photographing with Tony Ward for L’Optimum Thailand, his team travelled 2 hours outside London to Botany Bay. Despite the breathtaking scenery, the weather was getting rough after they started. Strong winds, blowing sand, billowy tides and cold temperature made the limited time they had even more intense. Eventually they finished shooting in record timing, before being asked to leave by lifeguards. Nonetheless, the output satisfied both the model’s agency and Onin himself.
Such challenging endeavors in photography does nothing to hinder Onin, instead it only makes him more infatuated with photography.
“To be totally honest, every time I do a shoot, I still get that high adrenaline. There is always that feeling like it is the first time.”
On occasion, he does get too excited and filled with anticipation that he has sleepless nights. He’d lay awake thinking of how he can execute the story, which outfit works best with the location and what mood would he want from the model. He allows himself time to imagine and work through the scenarios, but allows room for spontaneity during the shoot. For Onin, it is quite liberating and empowering when everything is settled and great shots finally reveal themselves.
Onin describes his photography as quiet and poetic, realistic and dreamy, beautiful and exotic. “I look at each of my shoots as a series of images that narrates a story and convey a mood; and each shoot is special.”
In one of his latest of his fashion shoots, he tried to tell a story about a man on a journey, in solitude, and finally in peace. The production occurred during a period when his brother passed away; and the story was dedicated to his dearest brother, a tribute to his love and understanding of life.
Onin paved his way working with top models and brands; and started shooting with Bhumika Arora for L’Officiel India. This was his first time working with a top model. It was a memorable experience for him, as he had been holding an admiration for Bhumika since she first came out in the international scene. Her beauty has solidified her as his muse.
For Onin, his must have piece of equipment is the Nikon D810 for digital shoots and the Nikon F90x for film shoots. He uses the AF-S NIKKOR 24-70mm f/2.8G ED, the AF NIKKOR 50mm f/1.4D, and the AF Zoom Nikkor 35-80mm f/4.0-5.6D, along with strobes, continuous lights and reflector for his setup.
On top of that, efficient and enjoyable teamwork are important to make sure that every goes to plan. Garments also contribute to materializing a fashion image. Certain fabrics and textures can express entirely different emotions in an image depending on the styling and over-all mood. For example, soft fine garments can depict sadness, but at times, can also showcase strength.
Onin also captures dramatic landscapes during his travels, including his lovely nephews and nieces at home, and random tiny objects in everyday life, although nothing can compare to his love for fashion.
What is next for him? He is organizing fashion shoots to four different countries in the coming two months. “2017 starts right and looks more optimistic. I am excited!”
Born in the Philippines and having lived in Singapore, Onin Lorente is now based in Britain and Germany, working as a full time fashion photographer. He shifted his career from a software developer to a high-end fashion photographer, aiming to become one of the most inspiring fashion photographers in the industry.