Interview with John Sansom – Photographer in London

This month we start our new monthly “Client Interview”. Each month we will randomly choose a Client that used our studio and publish a short interview. If you would like to get involved please get in touch with us.

Interview with John Sansom



John Sansom is a fashion and beauty photographer based in London. A clean, dynamic and elegant style has become the signature of his work, whether shooting fashion editorial, designer look books or beauty campaigns.  Renowned by clients for his creative versatility, attention to detail and flexible approach. With prior experience in corporate leadership, John is uniquely adept at managing high profile projects and teams, to deliver outstanding results and beautiful images.

Q & A

1: How did you get into (fashion) photography?

I started out shooting Street Photography and Sports. These really helped me to develop my camera skills and technique early on. They provided structure and goals to achieve.
At the same time I began exploring other areas of photography, most notably portraiture and studio work. It was during this period that I began to realise that the consistent thread throughout the photography that I enjoyed was people. I was drawn to the characters and their stories. I wanted to explore this even further, to create the narrative rather than capture it. Fashion image making being the ultimate creative playground to do so.
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2: How do you organise your shoots and where do you get your ideas from?

Planning for a shoot typically starts at around two weeks out for me. I find this allows sufficient time for concept development and to coordinate the creative team needed for a project.
Having over a decade of leadership & management experience in the corporate world has been a real asset to me as a photographer. I’ve been able to apply these skills to delivering photo productions. I also take advantage of technology where I can to collaborate with my creative team. Tools such as DropBox make sharing and collaborating on a project easier. Communication is key to the success of a fashion shoot and anything you can do to facilitate this within your team will show in the results.
One of my most memorable moments from being on Photography Mastered with mentor Nick Knight, was when he talked with us about ideas and where they come from. I’m paraphrasing but he essentially told us to never ask him this! You simply shoot what it is that you want to see, he said. For me, this was a significant mind shift. Once I had unburdened myself from external expectations and I began focusing energy on really understanding what it is that I want to see, to create, I found myself with a continued source of ideas and inspiration. I’m inspired by the things and experiences I see around me daily. Having the courage to pursue an idea however, is another matter…….

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3: What is the thing(s) you like the most during a photoshoot?

It’s called Flow State. When you pass through the tipping point during a shoot to where it all starts to come together and you are completely immersed in the experience. It’s addictive.
So much in fashion photography is about synergy and energy. As a photographer you have to consciously manage these on set in order to produce the desired outcome. Fashion photographer Bruce Smith is an absolute master at this. If you ever have the opportunity to see Bruce in action, perhaps attend one of his workshops, it is a real treat. The energy he creates on set, the flow between the model and himself is quite remarkable. He has also written what I consider to be the one of the best books on fashion photography available. Most of the books out there right now are a waste of time and lack real depth. I know this because I’ve read them. I’ve curated a list of books actually worth reading on my blog.

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4: Can you explain some of your editing work flow?

Editing was something that I really struggled with when I first started photography. I hated the process. It would take me hours to go through the images from a shoot, narrowing down to the final selections. In time, I developed a systematic approach that I now tweak dependent on the goals for the deliverables. Essentially, I make an initial pass through everything, to remove any throw away images (test shots, posing transitions, missed focus etc.). I then run through again, this time applying a 1 to 4 star rating system (in either Lightroom or CaptureOne) to group the images.
When it comes to image retouching, I’ve created a custom workflow that enables me to achieve a quality result in a reasonable amount of time. I got to this point through studying and completing the bulk of the best on-line training material available. Consolidating the knowledge of these experienced professionals and selectively incorporating what worked for me, into my own workflow.
Retouching is a big topic. For those interested, I have a more comprehensive Photoshop workflow overview on my blog, including a video of the process in action.

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5: How did you get to know 69 drops Studio and how were your experiences here?

The studio was recommended to me by a photographer friend. I was looking for a versatile space in London at a reasonable rate, that could support the range of work I shoot.
69 drops Studio provides a good variety of lighting equipment to support different projects and an environment that can support my team in doing their best work. The mood on set is critical to the success of a shoot and working in a productive and pleasant environment is a key influencer for this. Look after your team and they will look after you.
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6: What are you planning for your future in photography?

Right now my photography is proving popular with athleisure and sports brands. The work I produced for Adidas earlier this year, creating a commercial campaign using fashion production was very well received, and I wish to continue creating in this direction.
I absolutely love collaborating with creative talent in London and I wish to continue creating more fashion editorial work. Building a strong team that works well together is critical to success as a fashion photographer. Collaborating on creative projects is a great way to nurture teams, grow your professional network and meet interesting people.
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You can find and follow John here: