Stunning fashion photography that captures the essence of the moment in the way that sets it apart from others. The man behind these mesmerizing images goes by the name of JOHN TODS or Tods, an up-and-coming Thai photographer who’s worked on various campaigns with global brands like BOYY and top fashion magazines. How did an Udonthani native with zero background in photography become one of the country’s most sought-after photographers? Let’s hear from the man himself.
Tods’ artistic evolution has been a thing to behold no matter what type of project in which he’s involved — photography, video projects or home decor design. We had the laconic photographer on the line with us today to talk about all things JOHN TODS and then some.
How did the name JOHN TODS come about?
“I was born and raised in Udonthani. During a semester break I went on a trip with some uni friends from Vientiane to Hanoi. On the way back, I got to know this English girl who couldn’t quite pronounce my name, so she decided to call me John instead because my hairstyle at the time looked a bit like Johnny Cash’s. As for TODS, it’s essentially my name Tod with an extra ‘s’ for a bit of flourish (laughs). Putting it all together and we’ve got the ‘JOHN TODS’ that I’m known for today.”
Photography is happiness
“I’ve always loved looking at photos and taking them since I was a kid, but I didn’t go to school for it. Once I graduated, I applied for a PR position at BOYY. Back then, the team was very small and I had the chance to be part of every process that went into brand building and brand’s promotion. I became influenced by Boyy’s founder and designer Jesse Dorsey and Wannasiri “Boy” Kongman, and inspired to pursue fashion photography. It’s an art form that requires plenty of knowledge and expertise in planning, communication, and psychology. I get really happy when my work comes out great. That’s why I was inspired to become a fashion photographer.”
BOYY is where it all started
“For me, BOYY is where everything began. Working with BOYY has turned someone who wasn’t all that interested in fashion like me into a fashion lover. I had to ask my parents to buy me a camera and a laptop because I really wanted to make a career out of it. Boy saw that I was keen on getting started, so she asked me to shoot some sweatsuits and bags at her place. The shoot was for the brand’s IG and it was very DIY. That was my first proper photo gig.”
The campaign he’s most proud of
“After my first shoot, I was given opportunities to do more shoots for the brand, from the shop sign at Gaysorn to BOYY Spring-Summer 2019 collection. I’m most proud of the latter because it was my idea to do a slope skiing theme. We flew to Italy during winter for the shoot. There were six of us altogether: Boy, Jesse, two other colleagues, and myself who was the only photographer. The shoot had so much impact and was the talk of the town. I was so proud of myself. It was truly a dream come true.”
Way of working
“Before I agree to a job from a client, I would first ask them about the concept. What does the collection want to communicate? Then, I would take a look at the clothes, do further research, and gather some ideas, which normally is a 50/50 kind of deal. I really focus on teamwork because I believe that teamwork leads to success. I usually develop ideas alongside stylists, makeup and hair artists, and clients to make sure we deliver the best work we possibly could.”
Through black and white lens
“Personally, I’m a fan of black and white photography. I like how classic it looks and how it captures the essence and portrays the character of each person. That’s how special I perceive black and white images.”
In his photos, Tod pays close attention to models’ eyes because he believes that a person’s eyes can effectively convey a message to the audience. Before shooting, he would have a chat with the model first to break the ice and to make sure that their true personality shines through. When the moment is right, he clicks the camera.
“Photography is communicating through eyes, gestures, and body language. The photographer and the model have to trust each other and stay connected so that the audience can feel it.”
Content creation by JOHN TODS
“I love helping out friends. During the pandemic, I got to help a friend of mine who wanted to launch an online business selling biryani called Bung_isss. I helped come up with a few ideas for promo videos. I had my friend dressed up in a cow costume, dancing to the ‘Where’s the buffalo?’ song to promote his shop’s beef soup. It went super viral because people loved that kind of comedy. We do it for the fun of it, not so much for the money.”
Decorlour: tangible art
“Apart from photography and video content, I also run a brand of handcrafted multi-functional resin sculpture called decorlour with my friends. I wanted to create home decor that could also be an artwork. I love art pieces, but they’re often far too expensive. I wanted to create art objects that are both affordable and durable. We’ll be rolling out more collections in the near future, so make sure to keep an eye out.”
Keep on moving with passion
“My life is driven by my passion and the strive for self-improvement. I’m not a talker, I’m a doer and I like to put my back into the task at hand. It’s fun to be able to follow your passions, especially in this day and age. I hope that my story will inspire others. Thanks for the support and please check out my works!”