A Fresh Taste from Fah + Mindo

ADC Members Fah and Mindo are a creative duo based in New York City. With Fah as their seasoned art director, and Mindo their photographer, the pair has been working together on editorial and commercial projects in addition to their busy individual careers.

We caught up with the twosome to hear about their latest photo series, their thoughts on the ongoing struggle between print and digital, and what  they’ve learned from working in tandem.

How did you two first come together as a creative duo? What made you sure you were the right fit to work together?

We didn’t know we were the right fit! It happened organically. It seemed the most fluid and organic for both our chosen disciplines to come together and create.

What’s your usual style of approach when you receive a brief? Do you sketch ideas out on paper before going to the camera?

We brainstorm ideas and come up with a choice of three solid concepts that have a different budget range. Usually we sketch ideas on paper, writing down all details for the project. We have a lot of discussion to fine tune our ideas, and test before actually going to the camera. Everything is meticulously planned beforehand – backgrounds, props, colors, light, composition, etc.

Why is conceptual photography a good vehicle for storytelling?

Storytelling is an art form in all types of mediums. Conceptual photography however can be one of the best forms of storytelling if executed well. An image without words is very clever, but it has to be recogniseable as well as relatable to the audience.

What’s the inspiration behind your most recent project?

We just finished this quirky still life food series. It has summer undertones like bright, vibrant colors, perfect for this season. The ice-cream shot we created with a tie is quite special. We didn’t know if it would work but it turned out beautifully. We added skittles to give it a bit more pop. The same with the “soapsicle.” Anything food related is always a big hit, (some might say “on trend” at the moment) and it’s a real crowd pleaser with food bloggers.

Fah, how does your background in print media help you with your career today?

I’ve only always worked in print. I started off at a newspaper magazine in London. It really grounded and prepared me for my future in publishing. Weeklies are very fast paced, and in a newsroom environment it can get pretty intense. Afterwards, I moved into women’s and lifestyle magazines. I wouldn’t say the pace was leisurely but it was different. More time could be spent on design, more time for conceptualizing pages and art directing shoots. In my current role at Hearst Magazines International, we oversee 300 global titles of Cosmopolitan, Harper’s Bazaar and Esquire. Launches and redesigns, advising on covers, fashion and inside pages…it’s full­ on! Having worked on different magazine titles in different cities, as well as on start­ups, it has prepared me for this role – we mentor other art directors on a global scale.

“For any creative project it’s always a good idea to work with and surround yourself with talented people.”

What do you like about seeing you work in magazines and books as opposed to online?

I have a love for magazines; anyone who works in print will say the same. You can’t beat the texture or smell of paper. It is tangible. To design and create a magazine, see the pages come to life at the printers, and hold it in your hands is really something special. Something you’ve laboured over for a week or a month and finally to hold it in your hands is quite amazing. Don’t get me wrong; digital is where it’s at now. And I know I have to make the move, but leaving print is hard.

Mindo, do you have two different mindsets for fine art photography vs. commercial? What are the similarities that help you bridge the gap? What are the differences that are sometimes challenging?

I do have different mindsets for fine art versus commercial photography. In fine art photography, which is personal work, I have complete freedom to create from scratch without thinking about the client or viewer. Commercial is different: it is collaborative work and it has to be easily understandable for a wider audience. But the technical skills are required for both genres. I enjoy both. They both have their challenges and rewards but at the end of the day I put in 100 percent to achieve the best for the client and myself.

What’s your best advice for other working duos?

Patience and perseverance probably. A lot of this project was trial and error, we hadn’t worked together before so we both remained open-minded. Sometimes you get caught in the moment of wanting everything to be perfect and forget to enjoy what you’re doing. So having fun is a big part of it.

What do you get out of working as a pair vs. when you work on your own?

For this particular project it needed both our skill sets to produce, and we didn’t have a budget to hire so we used our experience to create this. Mindo concentrated on the lighting, mood and composition whilst I focused more on the styling and direction. For any creative project it’s always a good idea to work with and surround yourself with talented people. Each individual has their own skill set and expertise that they can offer up to the table.

See more from Fah + Mindo at fahmindo.com