Prepare The Flash shines a light on folks that shine a light themselves. The people behind the camera, taking pictures of the artists we all love. Let's take a look behind the scenes of some of Belgium’s most infamous clickers. First up: Guillaume Kayacan!
Mister Kayacan! Just to start it all off, when did your interest in photography spark?
“People got me into it. The good thing is that it’s always something different, different stories and backgrounds, different point of view. I started out with photography about ten years ago and it was the first time I dedicated myself 100% to something. I started doing portraits, but the real spark happened around the summer of 2007, when I met Verse and Gaz from Pendulum. Verse introduced me to a lot of people in the drum and bass scene, from Goldie to Sigma. I remember crashing at their places, being a young kid with just a small backpack and camera.”
You've got the chance to work with Roméo Elvis, Jeanjass & Caballero, Lefto... How did you end up as their go-to guy?
“I’m shooting more and more artists in Belgium than overseas since only a year or two. I had a shoot with La Smala a couple of years ago, and after that their manager hooked me up with more artists. The first time I was shooting Caballero & JeanJass we quickly snapped a few photos when they were shooting the ‘Merci Beaucoup’ music video. From there we started doing more and recently I came up with the idea for the Double Helice 2 cover. Same thing goes for Roméo Elvis. We shot a few times and now all just comes natural.”
How hard is it for a young photographer to get yourself in the picture?
“There’s one thing that young photographers don’t get: you can’t be a photographer of everything. First you have to find something you like, then become as good as you can. Once you’re there: develop something on the side. It’s easy to become a ‘photographer’ on social media, so there’s a lot of competition, but that’s also a good thing. Everyone has to do their best and shoot better technical images. You can’t build a brand with prime lens images that have a very wide opening. Like most teenage girls do. If there’s a 17 year old kid who wants to study photography, I’d advise him to do something else like cinema school. Clients ask the same creatives to shoot both still and moving images. And it’s much easier to go from moving images to still ones.”
Got some tips for those who want to get started?
"Certainly! Find something you like and stick to it. Become as good as possible. Read books, practice each and every day, watch videos, meet other photographers… Once you’re there, try to develop a second specialty. Mistakes are part of the process. And don’t believe anyone telling you that you’re shit."
Could you tell us more about Studio 38?
“Last summer I took over a photography studio with 2 partners. Not only do we keep developing the photo studio (Studio38) but we also decided to create a recording studio called Studio Planet. In the near future we plan to have in house designers, sound engineers, directors etc. We want to create a unique place in Brussels and even Belgium: a creative hub for artists that’s managed by artists.”
We saw you’re also organizing workshops lately?
“Yes! We've got three kinds of people who come to our workshops: first ones are wedding photographers who do portraits but don’t know about lighting. We teach them everything from scratch. Second are young students because there’s a huge gap between what they learn at school and what the industry really is these days. They don’t know how to sell themselves or how prices work. Third person is, let’s say, a 45 year old dad who loves photography and wants to get better at it. His schedule is pretty busy with work & family duties but we can teach him a lot in a single day. We’re also planning workshops with the local youth from Saint-Josse-Ten-Noode, where the studio is located.”
You don’t only work with famous artists, everyone can come to your studio right?
“Mostly artists will come, because that’s the studio’s niche right now. Everything is music related, but at some point I would like to shoot different kinds of people. Like politicians, because they are in the spotlight 24/7. Especially the ones I don’t necessarily agree with, which would make it more challenging in a way. The only kind of shoots I’d have to say no to would be those I don’t really feel comfortable with, like an anti-abortion campaign or something. I would definitely say no to that haha.”
Who would you really like to take a picture of?
“I was supposed to shoot my two all-time favorite artists. Due to some delays I couldn’t shoot Prodigy in 2009. I got in touch with Tricky from Massive Attack as well. I love what he does and I was excited to make some images of him. Nothing happened. Yet! (laughs)”
What does the future look like?
“Like I moved away from nude photography in the past, I’m probably moving away from music again sometime in the future. From the guy who ‘takes pictures of almost-naked-models’ I went to the guy ‘with the big studio'. I would like to make stuff that I can go to art exhibitions with. People always want to shoot with me inside the studio, but I’d rather work on different locations. It’s the only logical step forward.”
Last one! What are your roots? Because we've heard you always have to correct people on how they say your last name Kayacan.
“I’m half Turkish! When I started photography ten years ago, I decided to use my Turkish last name. It sticked. But I don’t really correct people, otherwise I’d have to spend a large amount of my time doing it. ‘-C’ in Turkish is pronounced like a ‘-dj’. So Kayadjan is the good way to say it.”