It seems DwA is becoming a home of interesting worth-reading stories. Today I’m glad to present you Lindsay Adler, a professional fashion and portrait photographer from New York-London route. I’ve done an awesome interview with her, enjoy.
I’ve read you began photographing at age 13, that’s amazing. How you started? With camera obscura?
I first started photography at age 13 as a way to share time with my mother and grandmother. Both were hobbyist photographers and we lived on a large farm in upstate NY that provided ample photographic opportunities. We would take walks together and photograph whatever we saw—fall foliage, mushrooms, farm animals, hay fields, and more.
Photography took on an important significance in those early days. First, it was an important memory sharing time with my grandma who later died of cancer. Second, it instilled in me the ability to appreciate the beauty around me. It is far too easy to become blind to all the beautiful things around you—you see them everyday and they just become ‘normal’. But photography provided me a way to explore and appreciate my environment.
While I began just snapping away with a point-and-shoot, my first real camera was a Canon Rebel 2000 SLR film camera. I took it with me everywhere, and when I was 13 I went on a trip with my parents to the American West—The Grand Teton and Yellowstone National Parks. While on vacation I took some stunning images that later that year were published in a calendar. My career began there.
While in high school I started a portrait business which helped me learn more about photography and to also ‘fund my habit’ of photography (film and equipment is expensive!).
Throughout my experiences I have been a nature photographer, portrait photographer, photojournalism, commercial photographer… and finally I have become a fashion photographer.
Succesful photographer is not so easy to be, is the education important? Which school, college you chose?
I attended Syracuse University with the Newhouse School of Public Communications. I had a degree in Photography, Photojournalism and Entrepreneurship.
I have always had a passion for education and learning. Since I was young I always strived to excel in school, and graduated as Valedictorian of my high school (award given to the student with the high grade point average throughout all of high school).
That being said, education is not really that important to success as a photographer. Much of what I learned I taught myself. You must always be pushing yourself to take make more images, push your creative boundaries, and to keep up on new/exciting photographic techniques.
You must teach yourself if you want to stand out… otherwise your skill set and knowledge is the same as your peers.
My education was important for two reasons. (1) It helped me mature mentally as an individual. I learned more about the world around me and how to be better prepared to face the world. When I entered college I was still a bit of a child, but college gave me a safe and free environment to figure out who I was and what I believed in. (2) College helped me find what exactly I wanted to do in photography. I did not always know I wanted to be a fashion photographer. In fact, I’ve tried every type of photography there is. In college I started to take fashion-influenced images. I then proceeded to take a fashion photography course that introduced me to the work of ‘the masters’—Avedon, Watson, Penn and more. This helped give me a perspective on fashion photography and also confirm that this was my desired career path.
In the end, education is not imperative. If you know you want to be a photographer, go work for a photographer whose work inspires you. You can learn most of what you need from them if you have real drive, passion and determination.
I’m sure DwA readers wanna know how you are finding your clients? Or they find you?
Finding portrait clients has been relatively easy. . Basically I started by photographing some local friends in the area, then I would post their images on Facebook and tag them, then all their friends would see the quality of my work, and then they would call and book my services. Fashion photography is much more of a challenge. Basically you just take it one step at a time.
To find my magazine clients, I slowly started to submit fashion editorials I have created to different fashion magazines. Slowly but surely my work was getting published in a variety of small magazines. Then as my work and contacts became stronger, I started submitting to larger magazines.
This editorial submission work is completely unpaid. Most people don’t realize this at all… there is NO pay or compensation for fashion particularly as smaller publications.
Instead magazines treat this as an advertisement for yourself. This is a showcase for your work, and helps you achieve the exposure and tearsheets that help you get an agent.
Once I started to get published more, magazine would hire me to shoot covers or images for special stories—and these pay. From there my exposure through model mayhem and within the industry have helped me find clients to shoot model portfolios, ‘look books’ for designers, and other misc jobs.
Fashion photography, until you are at ‘the top’, can be a bit messy with doing jobs here and there to build your reputation ad support yourself.
I often use dmy teaching and portraiture to fund the fashion photography while trying to get on my feet.
You started the FPI Workshops with Lara Jade, can you tell me more about it?
When I lived in London after college, I supported myself as a photographer by teaching 3-day fashion photography intensive courses. These were very popular and I had a great time doing it. Recently I have decided to start teaching these courses again in the US and started promoting the classes to Calumet, Unique Photo and other major camera companies. I very quickly got booked for NY, LA, SanFran, NJ and more.
These 3-day intensive courses provide photographers all the tools they need to successfully complete their first fashion shoots. They learn about inspiration, gathering a creative team, finding models, working with models, lighting, retouching and more. They will learn about getting editorials published and even have the opportunity to work 1-on-1 with professional styled models. It is a great learning opportunity.
I decided to bring Lara on as a partner for a few reasons. (1) Since she lives in England, she could help organized the European side of the business. She could arrange our courses with in London, France, Germany or wherever else we desired. (2) These classes could certainly benefit from having multiple instructors to help give the best one-on-one attention when needed. (3) Lara is a very talented individual and could certainly bring some important knowledge to the table.
You can learn more at fashonphotographyintensive.com.
Your first book “Linked Photographer: New Media and Social Networking” will be available in bookstores in May. What is the book about?
In short, this book helps photographers to utilize social networking to build a reputation, find clients and networking with colleagues to help their business grow. The book guides photographers through the tools and best practices of uses social media as a business tool. We cover blogging, Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Search Engine Optimization and more to provide photographers with the essential tools for online success.
I decided to write this book because after college I found that a great deal of my business for magazines and portraiture was coming DIRECTLY from social networking activities. I thought it would be very helpful for photographers to learn from my experiences and the experience of others to get online quickly and efficiently to reap the benefits.
The book will be out sometime this spring (probably May), and is published through Cengage (a large publisher).
Now when we know a little bit more about your career, I wanna know how your usually day looks like? New York-London relation?
My day varies every single day. No day is the same. Most days I wake up and spend all day behind my computer answering emails, responding to interview questions, writing blogs, retouching portraits and writing articles for magazines. Recently a majority of my time was spent on the book, and most other things fell to the wayside. Other days are packed with client shoots. I go into the studio and line up portraits back to back… each client is allotted about 2 hours for a typical portrait shoot. Other days are filled with networking… going around to different agencies, writing important emails, meeting up with potential clients.
The most exciting days are my fashion editorials. I come up with a concept, gather a creative team, and then spend a full day shooting the editorial.
After college I lived in London, and since have moved back to New York. Both cities provide amazing opportunities with fantastic creative minds. While I am mainly based in NY, I travel to London often for editorials and business opportunities.
In the end, do you have any advices for the beginners? Just simple short tips.
* Teach yourself and push yourself. Don’t rely on others or college to teach you what you have to know. Go out there and work for a photographer you admire. Watch online tutorials. Practice and experiment.
* Use social networking. Get yourself out there however you can—. Do whatever you can to get your work in front of more eyes. Don’t be afraid to promote yourself and share your work with others. On similar note, use your social networking to share your knowledge and experiences. This will encourage people to pass your work around and to see you as an expert.
* Shoot what inspires you. We all have to shoot ‘boring work’ that pays the bills. That’s the nature of the game. But no matter how busy you are or how much work you have, you must make time to shoot for yourself. Shoot editorials or subjects that inspire you. It is this personal work that will be most powerful, and when seen by others will most likely spark the most interest. This personal work will likely get you more exposure and help others to understand your personal style.
* Start small, work up. You most likely won’t land big clients right away. Start with any work you can get. This will give you experience and money to fund your passions. Don’t be too proud to take small or insignificant jobs. Far too many photographer give up early because they don’t ‘hit it big’ early or because they are too proud to take the jobs that will pay the bills.
And a few words of mine…
Thank you Lindsay for sharing your story with us and for giving those important advices for begginers. Hope they will learn a lesson from your example.
Mar 06 by Danijel