Unek Francis – Fashion photographer

Unek Francis – Fashion photographer

By Arden de Raaij

In 2009 we came across the sexy body art / graffiti on girls pictures created by Unek Francis, aka Mr.Unek. As both his graffiti/ body art work and his photography was stunning we had more than enough reasons for an interview with Unek. In that interview we learned about his native American roots and that he grew up doing graffiti which led him to a career as illustrator / graphic designer and finally sparked him to pick up his camera to document his body art. Now, three years since our last interview Unek is totally caught up in the world of Fashion photography. He turned out to be a natural photographer with a great attention for light and detail.

We’re huge fans of his work and the passion and dedication he puts into it, more than enough reasons for a fresh Q & a with Unek Francis – Fashion Beauty Editorial Photographer.

How are things going nowadays?

Things nowadays are going very well, always good stuff coming my way with my fashion work. I am now merging my way into the New York scene with my fashion work. I hope to start doing the same with LA before the end of the  year.  My work is now starting to be published and seen by the important people in the industry. I’m working at my best to stay in their view and hope they will take interest in what I’m creating. All I can say is that I am very thankful to be where I am at today. I’ve grown a lot each day, month and year. There’s no telling what’s going to happen from here on.

Lea Red by Unek Francis

The last time we interviewed you was 2009! Has there been a lot of chance on a personal and professional level? 

Since 2009 there as been some change. I am now shooting with model agencies like Wilhelmina, Red Model Management NYC, and establishing new relationships with other model agencies I am going to work with in the future. I am working more at getting my shoot published in magazines so I can have a good tear sheet list to approach bigger magazines. I hope to keep traveling to NY and LA to start developing bigger clients. I’m not sure where this journey is taking me, I am just letting it flow, but it’s very interesting and rewarding to see where it’s going.

Graffiti I will never give up. It’s my heart and root what got me into this creative world.

 Your photography has taken an absolute flight, is it safe to say that it’s your primary focus nowadays?

Photography still isn’t my primary focus. I would love to have it be, but I live in the area where there is no industry for fashion or the type of fashion work I do. Right now, to find it is in the bigger markets. So I’m still designing and doing graffiti work. Graffiti I will never give up. It’s my heart and root what got me into this creative world.

Hanna Jones by Unek Francis
Hanna Jones by Unek Francis

You’ve told us how you started out with your photography, what changes have you made since then?

The changes I’ve made is to keep challenging myself with every shoot to keep making myself better, every shoot is a huge leap from the last. I read and study other fashion photographers that I admire. I just keep networking and reaching out to others in the industry. Each trip I make into the larger markets I learn something new and apply it to what I am doing now. I also teach what I learned to some of the locals that I wanting to jump into bigger markets.

Is it hard to get published?

Getting published in good magazines is hard. You’re battling up against thousands of amazing talented fashion and beauty photographers. It’s a competitive market and a fight. Maybe thats why I love it so much. Being on the streets doing graffiti  and being native american in America your always putting up a fight and I’m so use to that. I will not give up and keep fighting my way up. Also try to keep standing out from the others.

Unek Francis – Vox
Unek Francis – Gina

How complicated are your shoots nowadays (what does a Unek fashion shoot look like?)

My shoots now days is trying to get better at production and perfecting each shoot. I love pulling together a team that is talented because I know the merge of talents would only lead to one thing is creating great images. When I’m done shooting and uploading the images to the computer I sit there studying what I just did. I see mistakes and the next shoot I correct them to make them better. It’s a non-stopping process of trying to perfect my craft. I would like to make each shoot bigger like I’m on set for a magazine. I also try to pay attention to details so there is no fixing on edits and more time editing a  perfect image. I try to keep my style very clean and sleek, but that just goes back to any I do it has to be perfect.

Jenna by Unek Francis
Unek Francis - Modo
Unek Francis – Modo

Do you have any favorite work from the past two years?

I have several images I love. The ones that stand out are my retro fashion editorials. I love them a lot because they’re clean and very simple. I try to vision and capture what it felt like back in the 50’s and 60’s.  That eras just seemed like a very classy era that fashion was big with women. Women always seemed to be always dressed up with these beautiful dresses , skirts , hats and their hair was always styled so clean. Those will have to be my favorite.

Last questions: Do you have anything exciting coming up? And what do you hope the future will bring you?

I think everyday is exciting because I never know what news I’m going to hear, could be an inquire about a future project or see my images pop up somewhere. I do hope one day I will get a email from the top dogs who take interest in my work and hire me. I would love to shoot for a big designer for a ad campaign or a fashion magazine. Right now I’m just letting things flow and see where it ends up. Fashion has been the biggest challenge that I’ve taken on, maybe it’s because I’m working for something bigger. I love what I do and will continue to put all my heart into my photos. I also look forward to going back to New York and LA to shoot and make connections.

Julia Foster by Unek Francis