My biggest lessons as a portrait and fashion photographer, director and visual storyteller

Lou Jasmine What I’ve learned as08 mar 2024Lettura di 5 minuti
The human prompt campaign asset

Authenticity and balancing softness with power are at the heart of capturing the human essence, says photographer Lou Jasmine, ahead of the first instalment of Nikon’s new series, The Human Prompt

Drop five photographers into snow-blanketed Kuusamo, Finland, with a prompt to capture ‘Light in the darkness, darkness in the light’ and what do you achieve? “There was this moment of complete silence,” reminisces Nikon Creator Lou Jasmine. “Looking around at the other photographers, you could tell there was an explosion of ideas forming.”


From photographing brands such as Adidas and Levi, to music legend Coldplay and the men’s and women’s teams at Arsenal football club, the photographer and director evokes a dreamlike portrayal of the world in her visuals. Turning it up a notch for Nikon’s latest limited series, The Human Prompt, Lou pays homage to the nature surrounding her while staying true to her fashion-forward and colourful style. Speaking to Nikon magazine, she shares her top tips for mapping out the life you want to achieve.  

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©Lou Jasmine
Human interaction makes the world go round

With the use of artificial intelligence on the rise, our new series asks whether AI is a threat to photography. “With AI, you don’t interact with humans,” Lou explains. “And for me, human connection is what makes the world go round. My subject is the main character, and my top priority is to make them feel comfortable and to form a bond. Of course, there is a privilege that comes from being able to access the outside, and artificial intelligence does allow people to fantasise and dream and expand their creativity. I would call this ‘visual art’, not photography. I don’t think you’re ever going to eradicate what a human can do and there will always be people who want to document. Now more than ever, with all the information that we know and have access to, documentation is incredibly important.”


Expect the unexpected

Day one of filming The Human Prompt didn’t quite go as planned for Lou. The trick? Stay versatile. “There was no blue sky!” she says. “It was an overcast winter’s day with flat light, which isn’t my favourite, and I wanted to shoot from a low angle and have this beautiful blue sky in the background. So I had to really dig deep into my creative brain. Initially, there was this incredible lake, pure white trees, sky overcast – all quite muted. Anything else that was not white automatically looked dark. I was thinking my model would look like a lake goddess with wild hair. And then, just as we were about to head out, we found another spot at the top of a mountain with nothing but sky. I wanted that pop of colour in that landscape, and I directed my model to move as if she was the wind.”

Lou Jasmine's The Human Prompt
©Lou Jasmine
Portraits are about capturing softness just as much as power

Lou aims to show both softness and power in her portraits. Here’s her formula:

  • Angle yourself low. This allows for a lot of space in the top half of the image, which adds to a cinematic composition, while your subject will look powerful. Ask your subject to look directly into the camera.
  • Capture natural movement. Photograph your subject’s natural way of being, then elevate it. A simple ‘put your arm here’ or ‘lean back slightly’ is key here.
  • Look for peaks of light. Natural light adds to the softness and glow of your subject, so use natural light to your advantage. Keep your aperture wide open and try f/2.8, before widening to f/1.2, if desired.


Use prime lenses for added clarity

Prime lenses offer extra sharpness and, often, wider apertures than zooms. “I have the NIKKOR Z 85mm f/1.8 S, the NIKKOR Z 50mm f/1.8 S and the NIKKOR Z 24mm f/1.8 S, and I love the shallow depth of field they product and bokeh effect when needed. I also have the NIKKOR Z 24-70mm f/2.8 S zoom,” says Lou.

The human prompt campaign asset
©Jarno Schurgers
Not feeling satisfied creatively? Know when to take the next step

As with any job, if you’re not being challenged, perhaps it’s time to change direction. “I was working in TV before I jumped into photography,” Lou explains. “While I worked in TV, I was feeling creatively unsatisfied, and I knew my own talent. I was coming up against barriers and on the receiving end of quite a lot of discrimination, to be frank. I was not progressing in the way I was capable of. At the time, I was also quite exhausted and feeling burnt out. Growing up, I’ve always taken photographs. I have a big, close family and we’ve always had massive photo albums. And I’m obsessed with music and musicians. I have these photo books of artists hanging out – a ‘casual’ photo of John Lennon in a café eating his breakfast or Jimi Hendrix playing his guitar. I kept thinking, ‘Who are taking these photos?’ They’re incredible. I started documenting parties, gigs, and then in 2016 I posted a photo a day on Instagram. I loved the process, and I realised I was getting more noticed, and people started following my account. That’s when people started asking me to shoot their gigs. That’s how work progressed.”

Lou Jasmine's The Human Prompt
The human prompt campaign asset
Stills: Lou Jasmine
What I’ve learned the most over the years is…

“Take a leap of faith. I have this jotted down on a Post-it note in my bedroom, after a discussion I had with a therapist. I take it with me everywhere, because it’s hard to remember, especially post Covid-19. It’s only now I’m regaining my confidence – despite having some of the biggest projects in my career post pandemic. I’m so happy I get to do the thing that I love and brings me such joy.”


Follow Lou’s adventures here and watch episode one of The Human Prompt below.

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Beauty in the imperfections with Lou Jasmine

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