UNB Photographer Profile featuring Ted Sun Photography
UNB Kyle: Thanks for taking time out of your busy travels to chat with us. I can’t believe how much photography has emerged from your travels. Tell us about your beginning with photo shoots.
Ted: My first photoshoot was with my friend singer/songwriter Sacha Sacket a few years ago. Music was my first passion, so I started out shooting music artists, which makes for fun collaboration. I ended up shooting Sacha in a black catsuit on top of a grand piano, and we’ve since collaborated on several shoots used on various album covers.
Kyle: Music is such a passion and what a way to be able to tell a story of a whole album through an amazing cover. What made you want to pursue photography?
Ted: I traveled a lot over 5 years – to over 70 countries; I was having the time of my life, and loved being able to share my experiences through pictures. By 2012, I knew this was what I wanted to do – create and share images. So I settled back into my hometown LA to start this new career.
Kyle: I still can’t get over how much you traveled. That is amazing. I can only imagine the influences you gained from it all. So since you have started your photography, have you had that breakthrough moment?
Ted: One breakthrough was my first fashion editorial shot on the Highline in NYC a year and a half ago. It was the first time I developed an editorial concept, recruited a full team (designer/stylist, groomer), and cast from a major agency. A couple of the images were later published in British GQ in an emerging designer feature.
Kyle: What a great honor to be in GQ and listed in an emerging feature. Clearly people saw great potential which shows what you have become today, only 5 years later. Do any shoots stand out as favorites?
Ted: One of my favorites was shooting a sexy-rocker concept with model Elliott Law, in collaboration with stylist/creative director Bobby Reyes. Elliott was perfect for the shoot, being a musician himself. He also has one of the most amazing physiques and showcased the underwear (provided by Garçon Model) beautifully.
Kyle: Now that is a great way to combine your passions of music and underwear! What do you find challenging about some of the shoots you have done?
Ted: The most challenging project I’ve had was my first assignment for an architect, shooting several of his properties. I often had to return to a location several times to find the right light – often arriving at the crack of dawn – and I’m a night owl. Also, I had to carry around a ladder and use a tilt-shift lens to get the correct perspective. It was demanding work getting the shots, but I learned a lot technically about my camera that carries into my fashion and portrait work.
Kyle: It’s funny how people would not necessarily think a building would be your challenge versus another human being but with the right light and angles as you mentioned it takes precision. I love to hear about the funny moments. Any of those?
Ted: It’s funny hearing the random catcalls the models get while shooting in public. One time, this crazy guy kept shouting at us across a very wide street about how hot the model was. We were all laughing, but a bit nervous and scared at the same time.
Kyle: Yes I agree it would make for a nervous situation. You do not know how another person will act when they see a beautiful model and it is important to keep everyone safe and comfortable. What are some tips you give models in order to be comfortable in front of the camera whether as a new model or for more intimate/revealing shoots?
Ted: I just make sure to talk to and try to get to know the model a bit to make him feel comfortable. I like to let the model do what comes naturally, and I build from there. If the model appears nervous or uncomfortable, then giving clear direction really helps.
Kyle: Allowing the model to be natural and get comfortable with you builds a great trust and relationship for the shoot. I am sure many of them appreciate that about you. Are there any brands or models you would like to work with that you have not worked with yet?
Ted: It’d be a dream to work with well known models like Sean O’Pry, Clement Chabernaud, Brian Shimansky, Tomas Skoloudik – too many to name! Brand wise, I’d love to shoot Dries Van Noten, Rick Owens, Lanvin – and underwear icons CK, Emporio Armani and 2xist.
Kyle: Dream big! I like that. I see it happening. You have talked a lot about collaboration and I think big namesand brands will appreciate that about you. How do you prepare creatively and determine your environment for the shoot?
Ted: I love to collaborate, and have a wonderful group of creative partners. Some clients like to be very involved, while others are happy for us to take the lead. The initial concept usually comes from either the stylist or myself, and either one of us can take the lead in creating mood boards and casting models. Location shoots are my favorite: as a travel photographer, I love seeking out and shooting in new environments.
Kyle: Traveling must be an amazing perk with the job. Discovering these new places to your eye and capturing them to really enhance the picture must be quite a feeling. What other interests do you have away from the camera?
Ted: Music is my first and one of my biggest passions and influences a lot of my work. I’ve been practicing yoga for over a dozen years, and as mentioned, I love to travel.
Kyle: Music is a passion of mine too. I can see you walking around new cities, headphones on, taking photos of all of the exciting new places. What advice would you give to people who look up to you and your work and want to get into photography?
Ted: Starting any creative practice can be a bit intimidating. It’s important to confront your fears of failure and rejection because they will happen. Don’t be afraid to take bad pictures – it’s the only way to learn. You gotta honey-badger your way through and just keep going.
Kyle: Great advice! Expect the negative and bad pictures and await the miracles that come! What are some of the things that you feel set you apart from other photographers in the market?
Ted: I think that my sense of adventure and ability to connect with others sets me apart. I’m always looking to try new things, shoot in new places and find the next challenge. I have a very open-minded approach and love getting to explore my interests and ideas with others. It’s been a lot of fun getting to connect with so many personalities doing this, and I approach each shoot with an attitude of new collaborative discovery.
Check out more of Ted Sun Photography below:
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