Frank W. Ockenfels 3

- - Photographers

Frank Ockenfels does everything well.

When I think about high level photographers who can shoot anything and are flexible and can problem solve on the fly, Frank (Frankie three sticks) comes to mind every time. He’s one of those guys who you can hire to shoot B&W, Color, Alternative Process and can shoot on location or in a studio and works with celebrities, athletes, musicians, kids, psychos… whatever. He’s the nicest guy in the world and seems to know his way around a camera pretty well, so I guess you would call him a generalist. But, here’s the thing, I always remember Frank for his collage technique and even though I’ve never called him to shoot that technique he somehow avoids letting it define him but it’s what makes him memorable to me.










There Are 38 Comments On This Article.

  1. Ah, Mr. Ockenfels…I was fortunate enough to work indirectly with the man years ago on a week-long shoot in Mexico. We were the print shooters on a broadcast production that was being run in a less-than-efficient way. Basically, we were covering the two celebrities who were the subject of the TV special for print magazines and it’s a complete understatement to say that I was horribly out of my league.

    I’m not a photographer, but there I was – fumbling over a borrowed, aging Nikon on the back of the production truck (long story), strapped into the safety harnesses beside Frank and his assistants. I found myself there because Frank was good enough to me to walk me through such a complicated shoot: car-to-car, on the fly, staying out of the motion picture cameraman’s shots, pulling me back as I cluelessly walked through a shot and extending a hand to pull me up on the shoot-truck’s platform as it pulled away.

    Not only was I able to enjoy a sunset from the roof of the truck as we careened down narrow roads (central Mexico’s major highways) following the marks, but Frank hoisted me up there to squeeze off a few lame shots. When I said that I didn’t want to waste choice shot opportunities for him, he told me not to worry–that there was plenty of time to get more and he wanted me to experience as much as I could.

    The point is, Frank is not only an amazingly talented photographer (if you get a chance to see the dog-eared journal he carries with him all the time, it’s a chance worth hard-earned cash), he’s a seasoned professional: confident in his talent to let someone like me get in his way (in this particular circumstance), willing to lend a hand–literally and figuratively, and leaving a trail of admiration and respect in his wake.

    In my position, I’m fortunate enough to work with some great shooters and Frank Ockenfels III restores my faith in the craft and the craftsmen.


  2. Why do awesome photographers put such teeny weeny photographs on their website? Nice design, too bad about the small size of the imagery.

  3. @5

    I think it is to encourage you to call his book in for a “real look”, because an image on a webpage can never compete with a print. Faster loads too. :)

  4. In a time where everyone seems to be telling emerging photographers to narrow their vision down and specialize, specialize,
    specialize; hell, even try to define their body of work in 10 pictures,
    FWO3 is an amazing inspiration to take chances in many areas of photography and not just be content to [try to make] bank on
    one look.

  5. His range is amazing, but by the same token I find it odd. Imagine a band that could play any kind of music… isn’t there just something inherently weird about that? I personally prefer bands that have a distinct sound…

  6. @8
    I think that what would help you understand franks work more is to understand where his is coming from as a photographer. Throughout the 90’s Frank was one of the main goto guys for the record labels. And unlike the expectation that a photographer must have a singular style that is clearly defined and easily recognizable that is so pervasive in the editorial market, the labels really needed photographers that could deliver multiple looks and techniques so they could stretch out the use of a one day session for months. Single cover, publicity, concept art, poster shot. Working for the labels required you to be a “generalist” and expected you to experiment wildly and deliver lots of different looks. Thats not to say that frank doesnt have a distinctive style. He obviously has an amazing eye and is truly one of the greats of today.

  7. @7 -APE said him/ herself, that even though Frank does everything well, APE still pigeon holed Frank on montages. As artists many shooters like to shoot many subjects, stills, people, fashion, whatever floats yer boat with a handful of styles & techniques. But as business people trying to create an awareness in buyers minds, unless you are a brand name, specialization will serve the majority of us well.

  8. todd huffman

    #7: Mr. Ockenfels as you well know isn’t an emerging photographer. That comment is giving to emerging photographers to try to get them to focus on something in an effort to perfect it. I think it is fine to shoot many different things in different ways, it just looks weird when you send someone a portfolio with fashion/portraits/still life/architecture, etc. all in the same 30 images, unless it tells a specific story. We all get bored of shooting the same stuff though and find inspiration in shooting things that are a break from the regular. My favorite photographer that does it all and does it in an extremely refined way is Raymond Meier.

  9. @19

    When I said “emerging photographer” in my earlier post, I meant myself. Perhaps I posted a bit hastily. Also, I could not agree more with your comment about boredom coming from shooting the same stuff over and over.

  10. In an article on Nadav Kander’s web site, NYTimes Magazine PE, Kathy Ryan says, “this kind of hugeness of vision, this willingness to embrace all kinds of photography. We’re in a time when photography is becoming increasingly specialised, whether that’s using large format or grainy black and white or whatever, but what I love is that [Kander] does a lot of things and that he does all of them well.”


  11. Keep It Simple

    Massively improved website by Nadav Kander. The old (black background version) was virtually impossible to view. Like a bad video game, or trying to catch a moving thumbnail, similar to shooting those moving plastic ducks at the county fair. This new version clearly shows — the website design DOES matter.

  12. Wait. Why are we talking about Nadav Kander again?

    Anyway, I’ve always been a big fan of Franks, so imagine my amazement when my wife called me a few years ago to tell me that one of the kids in her first grade class has a photographer for a dad. “His name is Frank Ocken…” “Oh my God! Frank Ockenfels?! Soon after that we met and I have to agree that he’s one of the nicest people I know. In one of our first conversations he told me to call him so I could come over to his house and talk shop and he also wanted to come see my studio. I was blown away.

  13. I also plead guilty to being an emerging photographer. It’s been fun to return to something I considered doing as a career back in high school. A lot of life’s waters have flowed under the bridge since then, and I’m glad to be back!

    And thanks for posting Frank’s portfolio. Very inspirational!

  14. Emily Ockenfels

    As Franks sister I guess I am a bit bias but, He IS a genious!!!
    I brag about him all the time!!!

  15. took a 4 day workshop with franky last year at PS photo festival
    a few things I would like to say
    he deconstructed your beliefs on photography and how it is supposed to be
    he’s a gentle rebel
    he builds your lighting techniques back up with every day tools
    he is concerned about everyone in the class
    his class is a must, it will open a part of your brain you’ve lost since childhood
    the best therapy I ever had
    I’m not the only one, F. is adored by all his students

  16. I was lucky enough to meet Frank in 2003 at a Santa Fe Workshop. He just blew my mind and changed the way I conceived things in life. “…Embrace the moment -quiet moments. Fell the light…” He is One of a few truly visionaries in modern arts.


  17. Darlene Pasceri

    Hi Frank, just a little note to say congratulations on your induction into the Lockport High School Hall of Fame. I thought maybe we would catch you, but saw that you wer unable to attend. It has been a long time. We are still living on Regent Street. Often think about you. Glad to hear that you are so successful. Best always. Darlene