Cover RBrennecke Preset Shop 1440x900 Photographer Feature | Rachel Brennecke
Shanna June

Shanna June

Community Manager

Photographer Feature | Rachel Brennecke

This photographer feature is way better than any easter egg! Man, we are soooo stoked mega talent Rachel Brennecke, a.k.a. Bon Jane is gracing our humble blog today. Apart from the fact that American-born Rachel just oozes cool, she’s like a creative octopus… Rachel is a director, photographer, artist and filmmaker. In addition to working behind the camera, Rachel has performed at The Museum of Modern Art for Marina Abramovic’s historical retrospective and exhibition ‘The Artist is Present’, and for artist Vanessa Beecroft’s installation ‘VB64’ at Deitch Projects. Rachel’s work has been published in Cosmopolitan, Galore, Creem, The Daily and VICE magazine, and on the web for Vogue, Elle, Harper’s Bazaar, Marie Claire, and Style.com.

See we weren’t lying when we said she’s a mega talent. Pretty impressive huh?! Oh and that’s just scratching the surface… Awesome read and killer pics below.

Good vibes and endless inspiration,
Preset Shop Team

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Describe who you are in 100 words…

I am a wild carefree sometimes reckless woman who loves animals and nature and art and sometimes fashion. I play hard, love harder, and am beloved by those closet to me for my bizarre idiosyncrasies and peculiar life experiences. I’m extremely loyal and hard working, and too perfectionistic to be healthy, but it’s all a work in progress.

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Where do you call home?

The Hudson Valley! It’s a little slice of Heaven in Upstate New York bordering on the mountains. I moved here by accident, it was a fall-in-love with the sudden life change kind-of-thing.

What do you love the most about your job?

The process of abandon that I feel when inspired and in the creative act.

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How would you describe your style?

One of my close friends at age 17 said I was like “a hippie with lipliner”… another friend called me the girl from Forrest Gump… I wouldn’t really know how to describe it aside from relating it to classic Americana, half bohemian, half glamazon, but all accidental in a just-rolled-out-of-bed-kinda-way.

When you are shooting people, are you directing them in a certain way or letting events unfold naturally and capturing what happens?

I have a very strong vision and am relentlessly directorial, but I am trying to experience the process of capturing moments otherwise unseen. I’d like to move more towards that, less pre-conceived and more spontaneous and unexpected. A lot of the images I am looking to lately for inspiration are from documentary and street photographers, especially old film photographers like Susan Meiselas. I want to move more in that direction. A quiet observer and catcher of moments.

As you look through the viewfinder, what is the most critical moment in the capture of your image?

It’s what Bresson called the decisive moment. Because of the digital era I see a lot of shooters just shooting shooting shooting… that’s work related, like just trying to get enough to cover your ass for the particular job. When I’m making my own work, it’s really just a small moment I’m looking for, and its nothing you could ever explain to anyone else, even another photographer because for each photographer that moment is so completely different in the slightest most delicious way.

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Tell us about authenticity.. What does it mean to you?

Being true to yourself and your vision. I have recently become more and more vegan in my diet and lifestyle, so lately it’s been hard to work for fashion companies who source from China, for example, as that goes against my authentic belief system. It’s all a balance in making a living and being true to your ideals. We’re all inspired and connected to one another, and it’s really great to look up an old photographer from the early 1900’s and see how they might have inspired the work of some photographers today. It’s a repeating cycle, and you have to find your tribe.

What is an issue you have with the state of the fashion photo industry today?

I’ve never been able to deal with the who’s who. I don’t care if you are super famous or hot for the moment, or whatever. The fleeting nuances of fashion and always rushing rushing rushing to create something new, or to put imagery out constantly. It’s become a bit of a mill. It was much more of an art form when I was coming up in the photo industry in New York in the late 90’s and early 2000’s. Now Amazon and whoever have warehouses where photographers just shoot non-stop ECommerce because the world is addicted to online shopping. The artistic side of it seems less valuable than hype or likes or a following. That generally blows.

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In today’s economy what changes are driving photography and how have you adjusted?

Ecommerce. I went digital…

What is the best advice you have received so far about photography?

My mentor Gilles Bensimon told me a camera is a camera is a camera. He used to smash things with his camera before photographing them, like a piece of glass on the pavement for example. He would say, “It’s just a camera.” He always encouraged me to look with my eyes and see things, to capture them with whatever I had.

What photographers from the past or present have influenced you the most?

Sally Mann. Richard Avedon. Rineke Dijkstra.

What’s the most important thing you want potential clients to know about you?

I’m super fun and friendly and wonderful on set and always exceed expectation.

What was the biggest challenge throughout your career so far?

I was told when I was younger that I would never be an assistant because I was a girl. I was also the first girl to ever be hired at T.R.E.C. in NYC, which was and still is one of the premier places to rent gear. Sexism is real in this business, as it is in every business I imagine, so overcoming gender assumptions probably. After that it’s my own perfectionism.

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What has been your favorite photo location or session?

Shooting HONOR once when there were like 50 people on set, and 3-5 interns running around felt pretty amazing. It was a gorgeous daylight studio as well, so it kind of felt like a dream to be at the helm of all that. I remember an intern changed my playlist (which was probably all Brian Jonestown Massacre at the time) and I walked over and had to put it back on and they all scurried away terrified, and I thought, “That used to be me.” It was a strange moment.

The fashion scene is fast paced and clicky, do you enjoy being right up front and super present or are you back stage behind the scenes kinda girl?

Backstage. If I could make my career work from my apartment studio I would.

What are you currently working on?

Portraits of young girls.

What type of cameras do you shoot with?

Canon 5D and Mark III for jobs, and my Mamiya RZ 67 for film and Polaroid art projects.

What is your favorite photography accessory, other than your camera?

A white sheet.

If you had to choose one lens which one would it be and why?

Canon EF 50mm f1.4. Versatile, not too large, long enough to take a portrait, but also capture a scene. I just got an adaptor for my Mamiya lenses to mount to my Canon though, so watch out. Leica lenses are also so fucking dreamy.

What is your favorite computer/editing accessory, other than your computer?!

Adobe Lightroom and all my Presets!!

Cos we just have to ask…!! What is your favorite +PS tool?? And how has it improved workflow time?

I love all the different Faded Film filters. I resisted the wave to go digital, so when I did I worked hard and re-creating the look of film that I grew up on, like Portra 160 NC. You guys make great creative filters at the click of a button. So easy and fun trying them on, it’s like shopping for a dress to wear on a date.

Do you maintain a studio or do you rent one when needed?

I have made my apartment function as part studio, so I can shoot full length backdrops here and portraits. I would love a larger space and/or a separate studio, the second of which was just offered to me by some neighbors who are renting their home and studio. I rent when I have a job.

Three photography pet hates and why?

Young photographers acting cocky – self explanatory – hey, you don’t know anything really. Take a back seat.

Women being paid less than men for the same work – obviously troublesome.

The gay mafia – they prioritize other men, gay or straight over women in alliances.

What keeps you awake at night?

Regrets like selling the Leica Gilles gave to me to buy my first digital SLR camera.

Where would you wish to wake up tomorrow?

A warm tropical beach vacation.

What five words would your clients use to describe you?

Funny, hard-working, funny, hard-working, funny?

Do you play music whilst shooting? If so, what are you digging right now?

I do. I have a Baby Making Playlist on my Spotify Account that is all kinda soft-porn tunes from the 70’s and early 80’s that I’m really into right now. Otherwise it’s Washed Out and Ariel Pink, or maybe a 90’s Def Leppard session.

Big plans for the future? What’s next?

Starting a rescue farm actually. 🙂

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