Andy Hoang is a first-generation English born Vietnamese fashion and commercial photographer based in London with an incredible eye for detail and lighting. We talked to Andy about one of his shoots, Sisters of Nature, which empowers women and fashion.
Andy's journey into fashion and commercial photography
Andy picked up a camera in his twenties and is continuously learning and growing as a professional, striving to push himself to improve at every opportunity. This has led him to shoot campaigns for large successful brands like Apple and Pampers UK, making him an incredibly experienced photographer.
"I found photography quite late in my life, unlike those who grew up with photography, I learned how to take photos in my mid-twenties and still am striving to learn as much as I can.
My admiration of fashion stemmed from my early years of following fashion magazines and documentaries. I tried to apply what I saw to my own photographs by practising with creatives, and the more I shot, the more in demand I was to migrate to London, a great fashion capital."
Sisters of Nature
In Sisters of Nature, Andy took inspiration from people's relationship with the wilderness and Mother Earth to create a fashion driven and empowering series of portraits. Using the power of Fuji and Profoto combined, he was able to create soft and beautiful yet empowering images.
"I wanted to create a big scale fashion shoot with set design to boot that showed this vision. We had the pleasure of using a Profoto 8A - 2400 generators with pro plus heads, which are a dream to use."
Alongside the lighting, Andy used deep umbrellas, beauty dishes and large translucent scrims to create a soft and balanced light with his current camera of choice, the Fujifilm X-H1.
"At the moment I am shooting with a Fujifilm X-H1 which is a mirrorless camera with an APS-C sensor. The quality of the file is outstanding and can be pushed to billboard size, with these images appearing on billboards in NYC, LA and London. The speed of the EVF as well as portability, plus the way it sits in your hand makes the user experience a great one."
Shooting from above
In the first set up in Andy's Sisters of Nature shoot, the models laid on the ground and images were shot from above.
"With this shot, I used a 3 light set up. 2 Profoto proheads shooting into a white wall and bouncing back through a translucent scrim to give incredibly soft and even light. From the left centre, a beauty dish on a boom at a higher power setting gave that punch. With this look, I shot at f11-f16 to achieve sharpness across the board and show off the great garments we pulled."
Full-body length shots
Following shooting from above, Andy used a similar set up to capture full-body length shots, whilst adding in a white deep umbrella XL to fill in additional shadows.
After the full-length shots, Andy wanted to capture some close-up and intimate portraits with an effortless but powerful feel to them.
"The portraits were some of my favourite shots to date, so simple yet powerful. I used a beauty dish from the light and pulled the scrim close from the right, but rather than bounce light off the wall, I used two silver umbrellas to bounce back through the scrim instead, which added that crispness."
Key editorial and commercial considerations
Andy explains that with editorial it is crucial to focus on building a story to give the model a character and personality.
"All factors have to gel together, styling, makeup, hair and photographer to tell this story. The lighting can be more experimental and punchy, with strong posing."
On the other hand, Andy's commercial work has a heavy focus on the brand or product, making it shine as much as possible to ensure positive audience connections.
"A great commercial shot is when a viewer can’t help but imagine themselves with the product. The lighting is much cleaner to sell the product."
Lighting to tell a story
Ultimately, lighting is crucial in Andy's work to tell a story.
"Great lighting is key to a great shoot, whether it be natural light or artificial, understanding techniques for the right scenario can make a break you. It all comes with practice, the more you do it, the better you get, but for me, Profoto aids you in achieving great quality light in a short amount of time. If a client shows me reference images in regards to lighting, then I am confident I can achieve it in a short space of time with Profoto and their vast selection of light shaping tools."
"My dream bag would consist of Profoto B1X heads for the power, speed and portability. I also love how intuitive the interface is as well as their sleek design. My camera of choice would be the Fujifilm GFX 50S as the dynamic range and colour are mind-blowing."
Andy's top tips for editorial and commercial photography
"There is a great Instagram page called @famousbtsmagazine which shows great lighting setups for some top commercial shoots, use this as a reference for what you would like to achieve. Practice is important, even if it’s just testing as you will learn an incredible amount, not just in terms of lighting, but how to direct, composition and interact with other creatives.
I’ve made mistakes and will probably keep making them, but don’t be afraid of making them as it teaches us valuable lessons. Lighting doesn’t have to be complicated, you can do a lot with one light and a great modifier, you’d be surprised how many commercial shoots only use one or two lights, so anything is possible with research and practice to make it as a working photographer."