Fashion Photography Innovators - Jake Hicks & Kale Friesen


Images from our featured creative photographers, Jake Hicks (left) and Kale Friesen (right).

Jake Hicks & Kale Friesen are both professional fashion photographers. Even though they may not be the fashion industry's most traditional photographers, they don't mind. Both strive to be unique and consistent with their photographic style by using gels, colored lighting, slow shutter speeds, and most importantly, creativity. Their work has been featured in Fujifilm Japan, Lifetime Clothing, Editorial Magazine, Goldwell Beauty Products, Fashion Faces Magazine, and Fashion Affairs Magazine. We were fortunate enough to get an interview from both of these amazing photographers. For more of their work, visit Jake's and Kale's website.

Jake Hicks

How did you become the Jake Hicks of today?

I have been shooting commercially on and off for about ten years. I left my Uni (college) after my photographic degree and went straight into shooting professional hair campaigns for companies like Toni and Guy. I think photography still had an air of mystique and skill to it back then as we were still shooting with film in the early 2000's. I carried on down this path for a few years but I will be the first to admit that I didn't evolve my profession so when clients stopped wanting to pay photographers when they had a friend with a digital camera, I decided to give it a break. I took a few years out and spent a lot of time in the mountains climbing and taking in the sights but I decided to rejoin the photographic world a few years ago. I realized that I had been slow to adapt to the industry's changes so when I got back into it I knew I wasn't going to be able to just offer what everybody else was doing, I was going to have to offer something unique and something that technology can never replace; creativity.


Jake Hicks uses the Composer Pro with the Sweet 50 Optic.

Your work has some really creative elements. What are a few techniques you utilize on fashion shoots?

I have certainly been fortunate enough to develop a photographic style that is proving to be very popular and I think one of the reasons for its popularity is that it's quite creative and individual. I've been shooting for a very long time so I think the technical aspects of the craft are almost instinctual to me now, as a result it means that I can introduce more creative elements into my images and make them work where others may not. Colored lighting with the use of gels is a staple in most of my shoots now but on top of that I like to introduce more unique elements. Some include shooting through a variety of objects that are on hand like wine glasses or crystals to create depth and interest to my shots. For me its all of these things combined that help to make my work stand out.

Does social media play an important role in exposing your talents and possibly working with new faces?

I personally believe that social media is mandatory in today's photographic world if you intend to get your creative voice out there. But I would say that it is a symbiotic relationship too though, in fact I would even go as far as to say that my current style is a product of the continued feedback from my audience. Of course social media has its own price too and when you receive 10-20 messages a week from potential models it can be tricky to keep on top of it all. That being said I do genuinely check each and every portfolio sent my way and respond to all of them. I have had some amazing shoots as a result of those messages so I guess it's win-win really.


The use of gels gives the photographs a very vibrant and colorful feel to them.

What can a Lensbaby lens bring to a fashion photographer, like yourself, that other lenses cannot?

As I mentioned before, my work is heavily influenced by colored lighting and in recent times I have been using my Lensbaby Composer Pro with those gel lighting shots. I've found that the blurring effect created by the lens mixes and blends the colors in a way that cannot be replicated with postproduction. Another one of the things that I love about my Lensbaby is that it injects a lot of creativity back into the photographic process. I always enjoy shooting with it as I am never really sure how the shots will turn out and there are times where the shots you get could never have truly been predicted or planned for beforehand.

Kale Friesen


Kale Friesen uses the Composer Pro and Edge 80 Optic to capture these photos.

Please tell us a little about your background and how your passion for photography grew into what it is now.

I remember seeing a Picasso in an art book for the first time when I was very young and was absolutely blown away by the shapes and colors. Fast-forward to high school where I had a great art teacher that let us take an entire class period to wander around with 35mm slrs and rolls of black and white film. After that, photography didn't really reappear until the first time I visited Paris, France. I had the chance to see an exhibit at the Foundation Cartier Bresson and a light went on inside my head and heart. I couldn't believe that with just a camera you could create art, out of thin air. With light, shadow and shapes you could instantly capture a feeling, a sensation, and tell a story in one picture. I spent 4 years living and shooting pretty much everything around Paris and during travels throughout Europe.
When I returned to Canada in 2009 I met my future wife, a hairstylist that wanted to get into shooting editorials. Within little time I became obsessed with fashion and beauty photography. From 2009 to now I feel like I've grown immensely as a photographer, but at the same time maintained my original vision of what I think a photograph means to me. Inherently, fashion and style is constantly evolving every season, which for me is the most exciting part. It means I have to remain connected and push the boundaries of what I can creatively and technically shoot. I carry a camera with me every day, it's really like an extra appendage that I couldn't imagine not having in my life and I'm lucky I get to do it every day.

From your website we see that you are quite a versatile photographer. What would you say your style is for fashion photography? What different techniques do you normally use?

I began shooting a lot of street and fine art oriented photographs and I think that part of me always remains in my work. I think my style sides on the darker and more ephemeral side of fashion photography. There is also a strong tendency towards geometry and composition. Technically I think I'm always exploring new ways to make fashion photographs, but I have to admit I am currently far more into the way photographers like Guy Bourdain used concept and in-camera techniques, rather than heavy post retouching. There's an excitement to the beginning stages of planning a shoot and I think I will always choose to employ any technique it takes to realize my vision. I really dislike the idea of limits.

How do you utilize Lensbaby lenses to get what you're looking for in a shot?

In the Phasmas Phasmatis photos (below and above) I needed a painterly quality and control of focus that could only come from the Lensbaby Edge 80. One of my favorite things about using my Edge 80 is how it makes me slow down and take full control the photographic process. Often in a studio situation we can use full AF or lock focus and shoot but with a Lensbaby each time you adjust your distance from the subject you need to re-focus, re-tilt and re-asses the picture.


These images are from Kale's Phasmas Phasmatis series. His favorite image from the series is on the right.

What is your favorite Lensbaby fashion image? Tell us a bit about how you conceptualized and created it.

Up to now I have to say the image on the right is one of my favorite Lensbaby photographs I've made. A good friend, that is an amazing designer and stylist, had these hats she made and wanted to do something with them. Upon seeing them for the first time we knew right away that we'd do something dark and beautiful, inspired by star light and outer-space.
The shoot was done in studio; I used my Canon 5D Mark II, Lensbaby Edge 80 and Composer Pro. For lighting I used natural light that was coming in the south facing studio, a 6 octa bank as a soft fill from camera right, two other strobes, one with a yellow gel and the other a blue gel, positioned off to the sides. I was shooting at ISO 100, f/4 and shutter speeds around 1/4 of a second. With this slow of a shutter I had to turn down all the strobes really low and make sure the model was still enough to get sharp focus in the right areas, at the same time a bit of movement created beautiful streaks of light and a softness to the entire picture. In post I did a bit of color adjustments and that's about it. In the end, an amazing team and the right gear made for some of my favorite shoots I've ever been a part of.

Want to learn more about the products the photographers used? Jake: Composer Pro + Sweet 50 Kale: Composer Pro + Edge 80

Reading next

Leave a comment

All comments are moderated before being published.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.