My goal since I started shooting professionally has always been to shoot fashion photography, but what does that mean and why is it such a challenge to get fashion work? There are many avenues of "fashion photography" these days and every one is a "fashion photographer" or so they think. I suppose it can be broken down to a few categories, shooting for clothing companies, shooting for blogs, shooting for fashion magazines and shooting e-commerce. The title of fashion photographer seems to be a blanket title that covers all of these and more but it doesn't really, as far as style, creativity and experience goes. Shooting for a millennials blog, which must look like every other blog out there, is much different then shooting for W Magazine or Vogue. The images in W Magazine, Vogue or V Magazine are very stylized, avant-garde, well produced and a lot of the times look like works of art.
A fashion blogger's style is much more lifestyle and what the girl or guy is doing in the clothes, not really much of a story, it's just a "look at me" kind of photo. Which is fine, every twenty something wants a fashion blog and a hundred new fashion blogs pop up everyday. Seems very competitive and repetitive to me. I shot fashion photos for a fashion blog and she didn't like the photos because they didn't look like every other fashion blog out there, they were too "fashiony", WOW! A fashion photo for a fashion blog is too "fashiony". I can't! Why start another same ole fashion blog to look like every other fashion blog out there? Be different, dress different, shoot different, use different locations, HAVE SOME ORIGINALITY! These bloggers look at other blogs and say "OH, I have to do that, wear that and shoot there too!" And they do. I say no, that's boring and how are you going to stand out? Be the change, do something different and be yourself.
Although a lot of these young girls and boys don't even know who they are yet, they just have this new platform and everyone wants to jump on board. I get it, I would probably have done the same thing in my twenties if blogging was as popular as it is today. I'm sure I would have thought I had to do what every other blogger was doing, with the fear of being different and not liked. And to be completely honest I catch myself doing it now, as a photographer. We see a photographer get a lot of attention and some success and think "I need to do that" and we try to recreate a look of a photo, but you can't, it was a moment in time and you are not that photographer, you are you.
We as photographers must think outside the box and be us! Not try to be Mert and Marcus, Mario Testino or Steven Klein. For one thing these guys have been in the business for many, many years and have a lot more experience than us/me, not to mention a LOT of money from the magazines to produce these shoots. They also have the best creative directors, clothing stylist, hair and make up and not to mention the pool of TOP models they have access to... oh, and amazing assistants! If I had all that, I would be shooting the cover of W Magazine too. All big jobs go to about ten top photographers and that is why it's important to be different and shoot your own style. I had to learn this and I continue to. I have always and I will continue to look to these photographers and magazine for inspiration, I love it! I love the work they produce and I'm ready to be in that group of ten, to shoot for all the top magazine and clothing lines in the world!
But how? That has been the question, the struggle the frustration for me. How do I get noticed? I can do it, especially with all the help they get on each shoot that I just mentioned. I can be a top fashion photographer, I just need that big break, that one person from Vogue to give me a chance... to just believe in me. The problem is, everyone wants to be a photographer these days. There are SO many photographers out there, how does an editor or creative director choose or even find you? It's so overwhelming they just stick with the same photographers they have worked with in the past. It's easier that way and I get it! I do the same thing with make up artists, I know how they work, we get along I'll just hire them, it's easier then finding someone new, it could be a roll of the dice with a new person.
The photo above is from a test shoot for a modeling agency. I like the photo... a lot. But the agency hasn't used it, the model never put it on instagram and I never received any feed back from either. This is where a photographers insecurities come in. Am I failing as a fashion photographer? Are my images that bad that no one wants to use them? But, there are so many factors that go into this. One is, this is a brand new model with very little if no experience, it was a test shoot. So if he had a few more years of experience, who knows what the image could have been. The other is, this could just not be the look or direction the agency wanted the model to go in and yes, he's wearing glasses in this particular photo, which an agency does not want, but there are other shots from the shoot without glasses. I now know to trust that I did my best as a photographer for this shoot and that's all that I can do. I also have learned from my years of doing this that there is always something to learn from every shoot, what you could have done differently with lighting or composition or even how you could have related to the model better or directed the model better etc.. It's really an ongoing learning experience.
As far as how to get work in fashion photography, I think it takes time and it's about the hustle. Shooting new fashion shoots all the time, trying new things and getting your work out there. And then there is networking and contacting the magazines and clothing lines. It's never fun and there are a lot of no's or just no reply's at all, which are the worst, but you get use to it believe it or not. So keep moving forward and do the best job each time, eventually it will be your turn.