There's no question about it - we are in the midst of a fashion photography renaissance, whether it's the influence of Instagram and our image-fed culture, the rebirth of 35mm (or as the kids say, #35mm), or a new wave of avant-garde zines and indie publications cropping up at every turn. The new generation of image-makers are young, creative, and boundary pushing - in some ways, even moreso than those who came before them. Photography is a difficult though coveted career, and over the years, we've spoken to a number of accomplished young imagemakers putting their own stamp on the medium.
This is what they told us about making it in fashion photography:
The Grind Never Stops (And It Makes You Better)
Half of photography is finding your voice and separating your images from the pack. Especially in fashion photography, training your eye to look for creative angles and shots is critical. "You have to constantly be working if you want to see any progress," says Tyra Mitchell (@tyrathezombie). "I always think of the bigger picture. As a young creative, it gets tough. But you have to remember what you stand for." Toronto-based photographer and former Zeum editor Danielle Suzanne (@_daniellesuzanne) adds, "As cliché as it sounds, shoot as often as you can! Work on developing an aesthetic that is true to you. How incredible is it to distinguish who the photographer of an image is just by looking at it? If you can put a personal stamp on your work, you're set."
Inspiration Comes From Other Mediums, Too
"In order for me to envision a moment in my head and feel inspired, I need music, which I find interesting because I couldn't sing a note if I tried!" says model/photographer Ella Weisskamp (@ellamaiweisskamp). In 2016, she told us all about how she comes to a concept for a shoot. "What draws me to a subject and theme are these moments I see in my head; there have been many times where I feel I can only shoot a certain girl at a certain location or in certain lighting. I see them as characters that I want to portray perfectly. I never want to shoot someone just to shoot someone. There always has to be some inspiration and emotion behind every photo."
Despite the glaring pay gap and drought of hiring, female and non-binary imagemakers are getting more and more attention, and Ella says that that could become a competitive advantage. "Having fewer female photographers is truly a blessing in disguise; the less there are, the easier it is to stand out. It's like it's a fresh start for the industry... the up-and-coming female photographers at the moment - in my opinion - stand out way more than any male photographer that I'm a fan of. I have respect for any woman that can make it in this industry on her own. I'm excited and curious to see what the fashion world will turn out to be in 10 years or so. The modelling industry is the only industry where women make more [money] than men, and are independent in more ways than one. Female photographers are definitely the new movement."
Do What Feels Right, Follow Your Instincts
Shoots that are contrived or forced don't hit the right notes. Instead, Danielle advises going for what is natural and feels good. "The main thing I want my work to be is genuine [...] at the end of the day I want the subjects to feel comfortable on set and I never want anything to be forced or unnatural."
Don't Hold Yourself Back
"Forget about the “right time” or the “right equipment.” Start shooting, writing, and being creative and ignore that voice in your head saying you suck (it’s a never ending struggle). Also, don’t let the way other people treat you influence how you view yourself. One day you’ll be relieved you didn’t fit in," advises Alex Kenealy (@alexkenealy), the LA-based photographer and filmmaker behind shoots for Orseund Iris, Brashy Studios, Courtney Trop, and Rachel Nguyen. We couldn't agree more.
Read our full interviews with: Tyra, Danielle, Ella, and Alex.