The Evolution of Photographer Kevin Thornhill

"Olivia021B" by Kevin Thornhill

“Olivia021B” by Kevin Thornhill – Notice the way he uses color and how he blows out certain parts of the image to focus your attention onto her face.

This has been a long time coming.  Kevin Thornhill, a long time contributor to the Shutter Photo at Flickr Group, is one of the fastest evolving photographers I know.  When I first came across Kevin’s work, he was what I would call an Urban Photographer:  A mix of street photography and architecture, able to capture culture in his shots.  In fact, we featured a few of his shots here at Shutter Photo from that era.  But if you’ve been following Kevin as of late, you’ll have realized that he’s definitely reinvented himself as a Fashion Photographer.  Not that he’s given up shooting on the street, but there is a clear thread that runs through all his work that is certainly influenced by his fashion work.

It’s an interesting direction considering his past experiences, but I believe his talents really show through best in his fashion shots.  I will admit some ignorance in the world of Fashion Photography – I have done much observing of my own, but I have very little experience in capturing such portraits on my own.  I know how challenging it can be.  A good fashion photographer must have a perfect mix of technical skill with artistic vision and of course people skills.  Directing a model – even an experienced one – is difficult.  It requires confidence, skill, tact and split second decisions (and I’m just scratching the surface).  If you do not have such qualities, it shows in your work.  On the other hand, the possession of these qualities mixed with skill and vision, the results appear effortless.

"Spring Theme008_April_Bianca" by Kevin Thornhill

“Spring Theme008_April_Bianca” by Kevin Thornhill – Kevin knows when to throw the rule book out. From a soft focus to a composition traditionally thought of as awkward – these things don’t matter because it just looks good.

Now I will contend that one of the largely appealing aspects of the Fashion Photography world is that it really gives the photographer complete artistic license.  One could almost throw the photography rule book out the window because it’s all about breaking the rules.  I would dare to argue that some of the most surreal images that I’ve ever come across come directly out of the Fashion Photography world.  To be part of that world requires a lot of confidence and the ability to work under pressure.  It is for this reason that I admire fashion photographers so much.  And so it is with the utmost respect that I feature Kevin’s work here today.

As for Kevin’s foray into the fashion photography world, I admire that his work flexes his artistic license, but does so while also remaining well grounded.  He’ll blow out portions of the exposure, he’ll break the posing roles a bit, color shifts, odd makeup, framing and so on.  Of course the only rule I think really should apply is whether or not the finished product looks good.  And that’s where Kevin thrives – he knows what looks good.  Where Kevin’s work differs, however, is that it isn’t off-the-wall for the sake of being crazy.  It has purpose and it connects with the audience.  I’ve seen many fashion photographers do some crazy outlandish things to their models, almost to the point that you even discern the model’s natural beauty.  Such work might create a buzz, but it isn’t timeless.  That’s not the case with Kevin; his work seems timeless.  And I think that his approach will hopefully earn him a lot of respect on the more commercial side of the Fashion industry.  His work is something that a general consumer would want in their magazines.  It’s the type of work that could (and should) be used in advertising.

"Pretty Green Eyes" by Kevin Thornhill

“Pretty Green Eyes” by Kevin Thornhill – No one would doubt this woman’s natural beauty, thanks in part to Kevin’s well-grounded approach. There’s just enough eye-catching detail with the blue eyebrows, but not so much that we can’t see the model’s real face.  I also love his use of the “anything-between-the-camera-and-subject” filter technique.

If you aren’t already following Kevin’s work on Flickr, you really should.  Beyond that, you can also find a great exhibition of his curated works over at his personal website:  Kevin Thornhill Photography.  Whether you’re an aspiring fashion photographer, or if you’re just a fashion photography fan like myself, there is a lot to admire and a lot to be learned from Kevin’s work.

"Shooting Beauty" by Kevin Thornhill

“Shooting Beauty” by Kevin Thornhill – Kevin has a great eye for what looks good, from the selection of setting to the posing of the model, it’s all from his artistic vision.


"Dark Movements" by Kevin Thornhill

“Dark Movements” by Kevin Thornhill – Kevin seems to capture movements and poses that really compliment the setting and/or the attire well. This pose fits the dress very well, as does the posing in the “Spring Theme…” shot above.



About Author

D. Travis North is a professional Landscape Architect, a Freelance Photographer and founder of Shutter Photo. Ever since he picked up his first SLR, his father's Nikon N2000, he's been hooked on photography. Travis likes to photograph urban environments, architectural details and has a new-found interest in close-up photography. His work can be found at D. Travis North Photography. Follow Travis on twitter: @dtnorth.

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