The Biggest Problem in the fashion photography Business, And How You Can Fix It
No matter how much I like fashion photography, especially when I remember the reasons why I got involved with this industry, inspired by Vogue and photographers like Guy Bourdin, Ellen Von Unwerth and Alessio Bolzoni; my relationship with this industry will always be unstable. I do not remember how many times I said “ok. This was my last shoot “or” I’m officially out of this… I’m out”… as if I had ever really been “in”.
I think that fashion photography has lost it’s essence over the years. At some point in history, photographing a celebrity, started to be more important than the true concept of the entire production.
Talking about fashion photography nowadays is talking about how “goddess” is the model you got for next Tuesday’s shooting, about the fact that she/he has 100K followers on Instagram and how that shooting with that famous celebrity will possibly opens the doors to a thousand other productions.
I started to realize the situation when a very good friend told me:
“If you had – a celebrity – in this picture, you would be famous.”
That comment woke me up. It made me realize what I was getting into and how irrelevant my work seemed to be by not having someone important in front of the lens.
Undoubtedly, this industry is led by contacts, followers and fame, leaving talent, technique and the conceptual burden of each production aside. I think that to be effectively good at something, you have to be good with nothing. Without money, without contacts, without fame or agencies that support you. I believe that a good professional must know how to solve a problem with very few resources he or she has, and making the most of them in order to prove how good he/she is.
I definitely think that fashion photography is based on teamwork. Working with good professionals and a team that shares the same moral values and goals, makes the difference in every way. But I also believe that no profession should overshadow the other.
I understand the professionals who are permanently trying to shoot famous models, because of the diffusion that their work would have, and because they would have a minimum possibility for being seen by someone relevant and standing out among the wide variety of photographers in this saturated industry… However, I think it is important not to lose focus, and just stop looking for other’s acceptance in order to let the photographs speak for themselves.
Although I do not consider myself a fashion photographer, I like doing fashion photography. I started working with friends, people that I just met and wanted to be part of a shooting. I consider myself very lucky because I could really find people with whom I do not only share a particular taste for fashion, but I had been able to work with people who really understood my vision and what I wanted to communicate at each shooting. They have always taken it very seriously, and they have understood the concept at a truly meaningful level, which allowed them to transmit it through the body and gaze in a very powerful way.
I believe in old photography; which generated value over things by photographing them. It differs from the current photography in which the things to be photographed are already overvalued. Today the object in front of the lens gives value to the photo, when it’s actually the photograph which has the power to make something worth to be seen, by the decision of capturing it forever. Leave it registered in time. Make it eternal.
I do not think there is a solution to this particular problem, I do not think there is a way to stop it, but definitely each professional can decide how to practice the profession. There are two options:
The first one involves hanging on others fame and recognition without ever really knowing how much your work is worth. And the second is to stop talking about “followers” and start talking about lights and concepts.
If the idea is good, consistent, and if there is willingness to work and a group of people wanting the same goal, the results will not fail. Find the people who respect your work and value it, not because of the fact that they pay you, but because of they want to work with you for your way of perceiving the world.
The solution is to focus on what matters, on the profession, on the team, on the concept and trust your work, believing that this will take you where you want to be. The solution is to keep working focused. I know this is so easy to say but it is the only way to really know how far you can go and the actual value of your work. That’s the most important thing, not only for self-realization and professional self-acceptance, but to stay in this challenging industry forever.
There is nothing more satisfying than getting what you want by having earned it.
By Lucila Abdala