Former Art Buyers and current photography consultants Amanda Sosa Stone and Suzanne Sease have agreed to take anonymous questions from photographers and not only give their expert advice but put it out to a wide range of photographers, reps and art buyers to gather a variety of opinions. The goal with this column is to solicit honest questions and answers through anonymity.

I would like to know the best strategies for non-established photographers pursuing fashion. I find it very difficult to find practical information about pursuing fashion specifically. Maybe you can touch on advertising as well.

If it helps, I will explain my path. My primary income comes from developing models with top agencies in NY. Modestly, I make $2000 – $3000 per month depending on seasonal variables. That’s not so much if you live and work in a studio in NY.

I started out assisting (for one year) but found it shockingly difficult to progress with my work. I knew assistants who had not shot anything of their own for 8 months and beyond. It was like that for me as well. I also knew assistants who were coming off 5 years assisting but they still had to develop their work. I have a really strong itch to work, so I cut my losses.

Beyond model development, what is the next best step for someone in my position? I mean to make money. I’m avoiding stupid magazines, and pursuing hip magazines, which fit my particular style. This however doesn’t really pay.

Emerging Photographer Help!

Established Photographer 1:

Anything is possible anywhere if someone is talented. Fashion is a very, very difficult thing to succeed in, sort of like the NBA. I can’t stress how hard it is. The person should start somewhere they can put a team together and make brilliant photos. They could be in Bangkok or Seattle or NYC. I have never ever known anyone to go from shooting model tests to the big time, but I have known several who have gone from assisting a great photographer to being a great photographer. It gives you the in that you need. But the photographer you work for needs to be a great one. The main thing is that you need to be ambitious to the point of it being worth more to you than anything in life, and then you may have a chance.

Established Photographer 2:

Are you talking about real fashion or small catalogs? If you’re talking about a real career in fashion I wouldn’t even think about it if you weren’t living in NYC, Paris, or Milan. LA is better than anything outside of those cities, but still nothing is close to NY. To be in the fashion industry you have to immerse yourself in it, and it all happens in NYC. I actually laugh when people live in any other city than the above try to be “in fashion.” Plus, these cities are the only cities you can even get top tier fashion models of which companies won’t even think about you unless you have them in your book. The high-level fashion world is very gay (literally) and concentrated in NYC. My straight climbing the ranks fashion photographer friend and I always joke about how you have to be “in the gay” to climb the chains of fashion. Even if you’re straight, you still have to play the game.

Just my 2 cents.

Established Art Buyer:

I think that expanding into Lifestyle or even non-couture fashion gives photographers more options to make money. Real (but good-looking) people in everyday situations; it’s that “aspirational” style that many clients ask for. And if you can test with any top models that you’ve developed relationships with, that’s even better. Based on the current economy, it means starting small, with a smaller hot agency. It doesn’t mean not continuing to build a fashion portfolio, but it means refocusing efforts on projects that will pay for groceries while your portfolio is evolving.

Of course, the questions that need to be asked are:

  • What is the current state of your portfolio?
  • How are you promoting yourself?
  • Have you established relationships with outstanding stylists and retouchers as well as with top models?

More questions than answers…

Big Name Rep In NYC:

When I asked this rep the question, they had a lot of insightful information. They felt that it would be very hard for a photographer to make it in fashion if they were not in New York City or Paris or had a presence or studio there. You must align yourself with a great crew- stylist, hair stylist, make up stylist and top models. They mentioned one young up and coming fashion photographer who befriended a BIG name model and having photos of she and friends, put him on the map. Start with editorial; get great tear sheets and photo credits.

Amanda and Suzanne:

When you are starting out it is really important to work on your portfolio and make sure you have a defined unique style since the fashion world is looking for the next new thing. If you really want to shoot high fashion, New York, Paris and Milan are the biggest towns but LA does have some work. Others have done well in other cities like San Francisco, Miami or Chicago but it is a really hard business to break into. Lifestyle fashion is an easier area to break in, but still making sure you are using the best in talent from models, stylists, make up and hair. Wardrobe is so important. Do not rely on the model for their wardrobe because you have to be in control of the shoot. If you shoot great work then it is easier to get a great talent base for free. The problem with shooting comp cards is that you are scaling back to shoot what the model needs therefore losing control and getting work that represent you. Keep a positive attitude and network like crazy. Get tear sheets with photo credits and PR the hell out of yourself. You should create a “buzz” about yourselves, this is the fashion hype!

Call to Action:

Please let us know tips you have for emerging photographers not only in fashion but other areas as well. A virtual mentorship as it could be known.

If you want more insight from Amanda and Suzanne you can contact them directly (here and here) or tune in once a week or so for more of “Ask Anything.”

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  1. “Please let us know tips you have for emerging photographers not only in fashion but other areas as well. A virtual mentorship as it could be known.”

    That is one of the best ideas yet. Bravo Amanda, Suzanne and Rob!

      • @Suzanne and Amanda, Great post, guys! Thanks!

  2. You could start out by selling clothes at the Ralph Lauren store on Madison Avenue when you are 25. Progress to working in their corporate offices, perhaps in display, and be willing to kiss up to the most powerful people in that company. Beg them to let you shoot, anything. Eventually, you will be known as a “Polo” photographer and will make a great living.

    This is the biography of one of the most successful fashion photographers in NY.

    • @Roger, Thanks for posting that- very interesting- who was it?? Fashion really is a business of networking.

    • @Roger, This is so true. Even in other areas of fashion. A model friend worked at Armani in NYC, and was grabbed up to be a stand in judge on a fashion television show panel (you would recognize it) and a few other gigs. It’s a small world, fashion, but you have to live on that planet. :-)

      • @Debra Frieden,
        yes, I was talking to major rep who knew of a photographer that made friends with a top model who helped him launch her career. Also have a previous client who networked with his friends and was a panelists for Canada’s Next Top Model and other TV gigs. Networking.

        • @Suzanne and Amanda, :-) I love hearing of people helping others reach their dreams. Exceptionally nice for the top model to help someone reach their dream.

  3. living in Holland I got these answers a couple of years ago:

    – if you don’t live in Amsterdam …forget it. And Amsterdam is probably too small for a real career. When you really want this career it is London, Paris, Milan etc
    – you have to be part of the network, be everywhere where “it happens”, fashion shows, bars, cocktail hours, etc. That’s why you have to live where it happens
    – you have to be not only good/outstanding, you have to develop a unique style
    – you have to show your work everywhere, time after time after time
    – you must be able to renew your work frequently. Once part of the game you still have to stay there…
    – you must work with great teams, and get published (editorial for starters)
    – you must be prepared to make it your life priority number one, in fact your only priority

    well, I decided to say bye bye to this dream. It really hurt to say bye bye but if you cannot make a yes, yes, yes on all questions above then you are chasing phantoms. I decided to go for portraits and lifestyle.

    I guess if you have no clients, no portfolio, no great team and you want to start fashion photography and make money at the same time …ahum, DReamer !! it will cost you 4-6 years not earning any (or little) money to even make a start !!

  4. There’s no formula or pre-ordained path. It depends on your work, tastes, expectations, and personality. I think the best one could do is try to make photos that you like, as in any genre. If you try to make hollow imitations of fashion photos for the purpose of simply getting work, you lose both credibility and eventually self-respect (hopefully).

  5. Hi, I would class myself as an emerging photographer.

    My background is as follows:
    I assisted for 3-4 years, working on a variety of job from fashion to sport. I was lucky enough to work with a photographer who wasn’t shy in giving advice and helping me along. During this time I kept shooting at every given opportunity. I think this is important as this is the best time to ‘define your vision’.
    I don’t believe when people say they don’t have time to shoot their own stuff, If you want it enough then you make the time. Anyway I didn’t shoot many tests, it was mainly small jobs for independent clients. I did this for 2 years but really I didn’t feel confident in ‘my style’.
    Through assisting I got the opportunity to pitch for a fairly big campaign for which they needed an up and coming fashion photographer. Pitching for this job helped me define how I wanted to work. I set out exactly how I would do it in a dream world, never thinking I’d get the job. Anyway I did, it was a massive learning curve and gave me a good starting point for a portfolio.
    Since then I’ve been getting more and more Fashion jobs, with bigger and bigger budgets. I would never have planned to be a fashion photographer (although I never ruled it out) but now I can fairly say I make 75%+ of my income from fashion / Fashion advertising.
    I’ve just singed to an agent in Paris and got my first book together. I’m currently working regularly in London, Paris and the rest of europe.
    My style now is almost exactly as I wrote in my pitch a year ago, and I feel confident with it.

    I don’t know if my young career would have taken this route if it hadn’t been for assisting and then, in-turn, understanding the the various sectors of our industry. It defiantly made me realize the importance of having a defined vision.

    I don’t know if this information helps anyone but thats just how I got where I am, I guessing it differs for everyone.

    P.s. Just relating to to other posts, for the tax year gone my turnover was just under $40,000 This years it’s currently at over $110,000

    • @Tom, Thank you so much for sharing. I think all your information is very helpful. All the best to you!!!

    • @Tom, I also think it’s an informative post.

      You say:

      “Through assisting I got the opportunity to pitch for a fairly big campaign for which they needed an up and coming fashion photographer.”

      Can you explain a little more ? How was that related to assisting ?

      • @Jonathan Waiter,
        I met the same client on a few different shoots while assisting different photographers. I broke the golden rule of assisting and spoke to the client about my work (Only when asked, but still wrong!) At one meal after a shoot I she mentioned her company was on the look out for a young up-and-coming fashion photographer and that I should send some stuff. I did and after lots of work (in writing my proposal) and sending everything I had shot I got the job.
        To be fair I’ve also found it important that I had only really assisted good photographers, as clients tend to trust that I will not mess up the job. I have by no means assisted Big Name photographers, just ones that have a good reputation.
        Again I think it’ important to note that everyone gets there in different ways – BUT I know that clients see which assistants put the work in and they also know those assistants will eventually become photographers.
        The best advice I ever got was: if a door opens the smallest amount for you, then kick it of it’s hinges.

        • @Tom, I have been at shoots where the assistant really impressed me so I wanted to see their work- If the buyer or clients asked to see an assistants work, then you should knock the hinges off and get in the door- like that saying-very funny!!

          I have also said to children of famous people- your name may open the door but your work ethnic is what will keep it open. Once in, you have to stand on your own.

  6. Photographer #1 is right on!

  7. Thank you so much for posting on this subject. Unfortunately , as usual, there is not much meat to take from it. It’s really difficult to answer any questions without knowing the EXACT state of the photographer.

    I’m living in NY, shooting the top new faces for top agencies. I have a firm understanding of fashion and the current state of it. I am now working on ways to playfully communicate certain sensations and my private feelings about human behavior and nature. I definitely feel that I have voice starting to come through in my work. I’m still a baby working it out though.

    I see this question, “Have you established relationships with outstanding stylists and retouchers?” , and that’s actually problem (even in NY). I’m constantly meeting stylist. My girlfriend is also a fashion photographer, so we have stylist’s coming over all the time. The problem is that really great stylist’s at this level are so rare that it feels like I will never ever meet one. I’ve learned bad styling is worse than no styling. I’ve heard this repeated so many times and it’s 100% true. As a consequence I have been working without styling and very minimal styling. I do it myself much of the time. A lot of up and coming designers are giving me pieces to work with. But that’s not stopping me from looking. I’ve contacted established stylist’s and have had very positive responses. They want to work with me, but it’s not worth their time without a great magazine behind me. And that’s the next problem.

    I get this response all the time from magazines. “we love your work, but we don’t see how it fits in our magazine”. This is very frustrating because young magazines play it safe and the fashion photography they showcase is totally boring and the same incestuous concepts as everyone else. My work is a bit too edgy or not even fashion enough for them. Where my work does fit, is much harder to approach, and I’ve not received any responses. I don’t know if I’m getting through ? OR maybe I’m not ready. I have to work on it. That I’m constantly doing. Blogs are blogging about me right now. Fortunately , I do have something rolling.

    I’ve been talking to allot of assistants these days. Mostly because I am really considering if that’s what I really need to do. It’s the only way people seem to be really sure about. But the more I talk to these assistants, the more I am confused. They don’t seem to be that confident they are making the contacts they need or understanding the business. What they are confident about is learning from the photographer (technical things). I don’t feel I need that so much. My style doesn’t require it. I can learn anything technical over time. Moreover, I’ve been told partying is the best way to network in NY. And I’m starting to believe that. It’s fashion week right now. I’ve been out just one night and I’ve already made several really good contacts. I’m looking forward to all the parties now (I hate going out).

    So , now , I’m still really unsure what to do. I don’t want to be a test photographer. But rather than being an assistant, being a test photographer allows me to develop myself as a photographer.

    One model I am recently noticing is coming from a direction that is more fine art. Ryan McGinley for example. Or Hugh Lippe, Lina Scheynius and Chadwick Tyler more recently (Chadwick was a test photographer first). I sometimes wonder if I should aim for exhibition. I feel like I sort of fit this mold more.

    Any thoughts ?

    • @Jonathan Waiter,

      Well, I’m not a fan of any fashion photographers that haven’t crossed over, so yeah…do it!

      Also, something to think about: would Helmut Newton get answers from these magazines if he were starting out today?

    • @Jonathan Waiter, Your work is very European- I would market to magazines over there and build your name across the pond so then NYC’er will take notice. Also, be careful not to show one model too many times.

      • @Suzanne and Amanda, I agree. Waiters work reminds me of something I would see in German publications. Edgy and raw, but a really great artistic style, I think. Good luck JW.

      • @Suzanne and Amanda,

        How do you do Ms. Sosa-Stone, we’ve not been introduced, but I’ve had previously exchanged dialogues with Mrs. Sease and I am grateful for the simultaneous opportunity to inquire and pick your brains.

        If you look at my work, does it remind you of someone’s elses? Does it isolate and associate to a certain geographic region?

    • @Jonathan Waiter,

      hi jonathan!!! i say you have to cultivate a stylist. angie and i came up together and she is pretty much the only person i work with now. find someone you get on with well and who shares your vision and work with them from the ground up. also: MAKE THINGS. this will really set you apart!

      • @Kristiina Wilson,

        Totally. I’m looking for that person !!!

    • @Jonathan Waiter,

      Hey Johnathon, your work is really nice.

      It’s really similar to Chadwick though and also reminds me of Eric Guillemain so I think you should somehow distance yourself from that imo. Dig deeper and bring to it something more of yourself – there’s plenty there!

      Keep going though, there is really something in your work that is going beyond physical technique.

      • @Wild, I’ve been compared to Chadwick before, never Eric. It’s a bit frustrating for me. I don’t want to be in anyone’s shadow. I’ve come to this direction on my own. It really is what I love. It’s not pure mimickery, I can easily describe my path and artistic process. It’s frustrating because I think arbitrarily changing is betraying myself. But you’re right, and I am looking for a way to distance myself. I hate that I have to do that though. It could be self deception, but I don’t believe we’re really that similar. I mean you can take any combo of photographers to make another. That’s probably easier with the majority of other photographers. Fashion photographers these days are so generic. Just look at ZINK. Can you tell them apart ? :(

        • @Jonathan Waiter,

          You’ll be fine. There’s substance to your work.

          There’s so much value from the process of re-invention. I think it’s a blessing in disguise so consider yourself lucky as some people aren’t fortunate enough to have that. And don’t consider it as betrayal! See it as food, as adding tools to your arsenal, as self discovery.

          Yes, there are alot of generic fashion photographers, but who cares about them?

          By all means at the end of the day, follow what feels right for you.

    • @Jonathan Waiter,

      Hey buddy! You’re NYC, have you considered approaching stylist agencies? Emailing and/or cold calling….

      Summer 2009, I worked with Andy Salmen @ ArtMix Beauty in Los Angeles.

      We were commissioned to shoot for cover and feature editorial for DNA Jan 2010 and we all drove to Palm Springs and I scored my team free night and food (breakfast) at this fancy resort and spa there.

      Anyway…I was introduced to stylist Marc Sifuentes in Los Angeles by Interior Designer Jordan Carlyle. You could approach Marc (now in NYC) and see if your styling tastes are similar.

  8. […] click on Ask Anything – How Do You Get Started Photographing Fashion ? (A Photo Editor), which features not only the advice on working as a fashion | lifestyle […]

  9. The process of becoming a Fashion Photog is best compared to the process of trying to loose a lot of weight.
    In order to even have a chance to succeed you have to be constantly hungry. The moment you feel satisfied even for just few days you are back to the starting point. I would write more but I have a dinner appointment with my client.

  10. it’s cool to hear some of the stories from photographers who are based in one of the major fashion cities. it’s refreshing to have some honesty in experiences as too often i find that photographers too often fall into keeping up appearances , even when it comes to other photographers.
    it’s cool to know that some people can work in an industry that’s all about perception but be able to drop the guard to shoot straight with how things really are ( even if it’s on a blog ).


  11. Talent is a given. Beyond that there’s one word: Relationships

    • @Bruce DeBoer,

      This is true. But for many like myself, it’s not clear where we should be looking to build relationships. Just yesterday the idea was given to me that I could contact PR showrooms and build something there. Like offer my services to young designers who need look books. While it might seem obvious to do that, I never would have thought of it. It’s these details and tips that help, especially young photographers. So anything on building relationships would be a good post. :)

      • @Jonathan Waiter,

        don’t do lookbooks for free. it just tells people that you will work for free and that often translates to them that you aren’t worth anything. whenever they have $ they will then go to someone that is farther up the totem pole, not come to you. don’t do ad work for free!

        • @Kristiina Wilson,

          Yeah, I didn’t mean to imply I would do it for free. I don’t believe in doing things for free, unless I really seriously benefit from it. I just see it as an avenue I can approach.


  12. Everyone is searching for the magic silver bullet. There isnt one.

    Fashion is the same as every other genre of photography. Shoot all the time and show the work to as many people as possible. It will take YEARS of this constant effort to pay off.

    Being a photographer is a dream job. Its not given to you….and being a fashion photographer is dream job on drugs and the walls are up to keep the people out who dont want it enough.

    Its just like climbing Everest. The higher you go the more and more people you see fall off and turn back.

    Live your dreams.


  13. This post was really useful and has given me the much needed push to expand my network (and horizons) and really begin to work with outstanding people for outstanding results.

  14. While I’ve heard all this advice before, which is definitely sound and valuable, I still personally can’t find my way through the clutter that has become the fashion photographer reality of NYC. I make this joke but it’s true, you can’t spit in this city without hitting someone who calls themselves an emerging fashion photographer. And I believe it’s a prerequisite to be a fashion photographer listed as occupation if you fill out a renters application in Brooklyn.

    For me it’s the getting my work seen and getting to know the right people to see my work that I truly fail miserably at. I honestly suck at this but when I bring it up to people who dole out the advice on “how to make it in the industry” this is the part that get’s a sort of eye rolling response of, “you just do it”. These same advice givers will go in to deep detail of how you must market yourself, how to edit, production value, etc. which again I’m so glad they can give this knowledge to people who need it. But the getting noticed stage, the one at which I seem to be stalling at, there seems to be this drop off. Like it’s a given if you put you work out there enough and force it in to people’s faces it will happen. It just doesn’t seem to be the case in my reality. So I seem to be spending so much time more worried about my presence then shooting new work which I should be really focused on and trying to find the right flavor to have people notice. When I ask people about this they still take the stance of “if you build it they will come”, but after three years since trying to go commercial I’ve had very little success and really getting to a point where I need to make a decision to continue or not. I am yet again reworking my portfolio in a MAJOR way, not just an update. So much that I’ve taken down many images on my website as to almost have a new “unveiling” of my work once I finish my re-edit and new focus of my commercial photographer personna and what I have to offer in vision and imagery. But I really feel this is just a distraction for me, to make me feel like I doing something about it when the real problem still faces me of how do I get the RIGHT people to notice me. Not just notice but want to take meetings and to start dialogs.

    • @christopherlovenguth, I hate to be harsh but people will eventually notice you if you have something they want. if your work doesn’t stand out to them then they simply won’t notice you/or it. It’s easy to forget that those people your trying to impress have tastes and unless your work suits their taste they will simply bypass your work.

    • @christopherlovenguth, I like your latest work but let the viewer have control to see the work. The older work is beautifully lit but the wardrobe isn’t featured which is what a designer is looking for and try and use the best models you can. They make these sunglasses that are like the black bar across the eyes like a “Glamour Don’t” made by stupidiotic- why not shoot some models with the glasses and then give the glasses with your images to fashion photo editors- that should get you noticed. Remember these are create people so you need to be create to get their attention.

      • @Suzanne and Amanda,

        Thank you so much for the reply. Honestly didn’t expect it and appreciate it. My website currently doesn’t have any of my agency model work up there since I’m revamping my portfolio. So the images I’ve left up are more to showcase style. And yeah I just started trying that “latest work”as a sideshow on the initial page and I hate it as well and plan to take it down and just keep the thumbnail gallery section.

        Thanks again.

        • @christopherlovenguth, of course we are here to help- I like the new work- keep it going!!

  15. I think the response from the “Established Art Buyer” gave one of the best responses to the question posed. Unless you are willing to be the starving artist, there are sensible ways to get to where you want.

    I don’t think that any of the greats found themselves at the top overnight. It took time to develop their style and voice. They evolved and grew in their abilities. If they are still working within a specific industry they are still evovling and growing to stay fresh.

    • @Ed Hamlin, She is an amazing art buyer who really is there to help!!!

      • @Suzanne and Amanda, that is great to know. It is also a testament to her professionalism. Thank her for her help.

        • @Ed Hamlin, will do. We have been so fortunate to have many people offer to answer a lot of the questions asked. So ask a way. We do have several questions that we are getting more answers to- so if you asked a question stay tune.

  16. Sorry, but there’s alot of tunnel vision here.

    I’m an emerging fashion photgrapher. I live in London. I’ve not assisted any big names (I didn’t want to), I’m not gay. I moved here from a small quiet part of the world, not knowing anyone. It’s taken me 6 years but I’m starting to break through now.

    Don’t let these comments throw you. If you have talent and an obsession you may just get there. But believe me…it’s SERIOUSLY hard work. Physically, emotionally and financially very taxing.

    But also, let me tell you – the harder it is for you, the more hungry you become, the deeper you dig and the better your work becomes.

  17. First, I want to acknowledge my photographer friend Jonathan Waiter–he was the one that gave me the “Just Do It!” Nike attitude back in 2006 and within that year, I taught myself photography and retouching. Anything Photoshop 7+, I know.

    I am formally trained in Applied Physics and Pre-pharmacy so learning the mechanical dynamics of the camera was trivial to me. As for the “art” part, it is a mystery…I have no idea where that came from. I was born into a very long line of physicians–I was the first to navigate away professionally from our academic milieu.

    Anyway, I am here because I want to know “What’s my next step?” I’ve had previously conversed with Suzanne (God bless her soul!).

    Do date: August 2009 was my 2nd year in photography. I don’t count that first year when Jonathan encouraged me to pursue after my dreams–during that Jan 2006 until close to May 19, 2007, I was tapping into my Applied Physics (electives in Optics ) and ambitiously teaching myself! Simultaneously, I’ve read and absorbed the technical Photoshop manual like a sponge and have experimented until I found things I like.

    I plan to purchase the book authored by Suzanne and Amada. In the mean time, I am humbled before you all to receive any insights and tips on the “What’s my next step?”

    My name is Ron and I am an experienced and ambitious self-taught photographer. Please guide and help me. Thank you.

  18. RE: The Gay Mafia

    I got a good smile of that. I sometimes feel I am not “gay” enough.

    I love fashion. I know who’s who in fashion. I am not a walking fashion encyclopedia–if a certain name or item or line came up in discussion, I am honest and say that I don’t know and would learn about it at home so that I will be prepared next time.

    When I have free time, I am learning (studying) Photoshop, studying photography (pictures in Numero Homme and other publications that specializes in mens fashion and beauty). Studying photographs of past mens fashion masters and current mens fashion masters.

    I have all the Madonna CDs, Cher, Lady Gaga, and an opera library! I just don’t care about who’s wearing what and all the entertainment gossip.

    I just hope the GAY MAFIA don’t come after me and revoke my card.

    I thought I add a little light humor here. :-)

    • @Ronald N. Tan, you know I love your humor. Remember when you and talked, I said to diversify and add women in to your shooting. You have a body of work that you can go to the larger agencies with a spec shoot in mind, show them your current work and ask for women and men to do testing. Most modeling agencies have stylists as well so see what you can get for free. I have a client who has created an amazing portfolio and getting a lot of praise. Ford came to her to ask her to shoot new faces!!! I see you networking so keep it up.

      • @Suzanne and Amanda,
        About Diversifying. I’m totally the opposite, shooting mainly women. But I’m shooting more men this year. Previously, I found men uninteresting, and it didn’t excite me. Recently, I found something interesting which was hidden to me. Something which was creatively challenging and could be communicated through my very narrow perspective.

        I think it’s very difficult to shoot what you don’t love. You find a way to love it if you want it. Because if you don’t love it, it will show in your work.

        • @Jonathan Waiter

          Glad to see you on here! :-)

        • @Jonathan Waiter, very true but I wanted Ronald to show a few more females in his body of work and while he loves photographing males just trying to expand on it.

  19. Estabished Photographer #1 is right and so is the Big Name Rep.

    1) Assist. Assist some more. Assist even more. Assist big name photographers, even if you feel you’re ready to shoot, then assist them some more. If you feel you’re ready to shoot and be successful, chances are you’re wrong, or you would already be seeing some success (sorry to sound negative, but it’s the truth). The fashion world, in my experience, is immensely hierarchal – much more so than any other market I have worked in. There is a rigid pecking order and status is earned through experience and “paying your dues”, for lack of a better term.

    The difference between a talented but unsuccessful fashion photographer and a talented and successful fashion photographer is their social network. The fact is, the big names in fashion are big because of their social network as much as (or more than) their portfolio. I cannot emphasize this enough.

    2) You have to have a relevant, informed point of view to succeed in fashion, which means learning the difference between OK styling, hair, and makeup and really great styling, hair, makeup, casting, etc. This doesn’t happen overnight. You can be the best photographer in the world, but with bad styling, hair, makeup, casting, etc. your images will not be great fashion images.

    Learn the terminology. Learn when the shows take place. Learn the subtlety of different designers’ points of view. Learn the history of fashion. Learn who the current top models are.

    3) Develop your point of view. This is easier said than done. Look at lots of photography, art, performance, etc. and figure out exactly what you do, and more importantly, what you do not do. Look at fashion work and also look at non-fashion work. Learn about branding. Not in the “I’m going to have a logo” sense, but in terms of defining your point of view and knowing yourself, your work, and your identity. Your brand has to be part of who you are – it’s a natural extension of your personality.

    4) Protect your brand and your credibility. Find ways of making money which don’t involve photography if you have to. Don’t do anything which will compromise your brand, like bad editorial, reality TV, cheesy interviews – it doesn’t pay well and isn’t worth the damage to your credibility.

    5) Don’t do jobs which put you in a position where you won’t be able to do good work, or editorial which requires you to do something that is not representative of your work. (See #4)

    6) Specialize, specialize, specialize (I disagree with Suzanne and Amanda on this one).

  20. The still best proven way to become an established working fashion photographer hasn’t changed in 40 years. There are 3 main cities you have to work in. NY is the hardest to get established, but you speak the language. Paris is not quite as hard, a little more open to new ideas, but a wonderful backdrop to shot against with good magazines & a good selection of young up & coming models & Milan is the most forgiving, with magazines willing to try new photographers , lots of fashion magazines that are small with small budgets that cannot afford the top name photographers & also a great supply of models, some much more unusual looking than in NY. The thing that you should also consider is working for an established editorial fashion photographer, if you can somehow get to be one of his assistants, very hard because everyone wants that job, or a relatively new, but working editorial fashion shooter . More of a chance of him changing assistants on a regular basis. Make friends with all the stylist’s & hairdressers assistants. They are going to be the next top people in their field & are looking to find someone willing to shoot & test with them. The well established people don’t have the time to work with inexperienced unknowns like yourself . You have to decide whether you want to be a studio shooter or if outside is your thing. Being able to light will be a big bonus later on, as it opens up the ability to work with a greater range of big paying clients, like the cosmetics people. Learning to shoot outside is much easier than learning how to light in a studio. That’s one of the reasons you assist.You will have plenty of time to work on your own outside, as you probably won’t have a studio to work in. After a year or two as an assistant, sell everything & go to Europe to develop your own style. Don’t worry what your fiends are shooting or whats in the magazines. By the time you tried to copy what is in the magazines, it would already be old & dated. Establish as many contacts as possible over there. Most people want to work back in NY & those contacts can become in valuable later. How do I know all this, because I was in your position many years ago. I was Richard Avedon’s assistant & then went to Europe to develop my style & make contacts before coming back. I shot beauty & fashion for 20 years, both in the studio & on the street before making a 180 degree change in the direction of my work, to travel & documentary photography which at this time is more satisfying to me.

  21. Now I may be biased, but I don’t believe there is a harder industry to break into. If you want the top, you’ve got to be prepared for some seriously hard work, long hours, blood sweat and tears. It’s a calling, a life’s journey. You have to wither find a way or make one.

    Assisting is highly valuable, but don’t put all your eggs in that basket. There’s a lot of years learning in a path like this so it’s difficult to put it all down but here’s some thoughts. You need to join the dots though as it’s different with every case, with every career, with every person.

    As for starving artists or making money elsewhere, I really don’t think that’s relevant in fashion. The fashion and art communities are about integrity and authenticity and this road is mainly about being a starving artist. You’re better off getting part time jobs outside the industry. Struggle does wonder for your character, for your work. It makes you see life in a different light and if you let it, it will show though in your work. It also teaches you to be industrious and create without budget. You’ve got to learn to love the journey. The ironic part is that fashion is thought of as shallow, but most of my friends who have been on the same journey have done alot of miles and become rather spiritual.

    And I do have to disagree, it’s all about specializing. Your brand should do a certain thing, so do it.

    In the beginning it’s really important to be guided by your heart. Follow the path you love. Follow the mags you love. Look at the work of photographers you connect with, introduce your self with them and aim to get assisting work with them. Unless you have a personal connection with a BIG name, don’t expect miracles. Don’t let it stop you trying as you may have luck, but don’t let it dampen your spirits if it doesn’t work out straight away, cause it probably wont. You need to work your way there.

    Above all it’s about talent and most important thing is to shoot. I love the Michael Angelo said ‘ If you knew how hard I’ve worked to achieve my mastery, it would be no wonder at all’ . Shoot everything you love. Things that represent you in some way. Don’t think about it too much, just shoot what you love. Gradually you build your style from a foundation of that which you love. That can be anything, but the most important thing i’ve learned is that style is NOT just technical. In fashion it’s mainly the things you like to take photos of that makes your style. So don’t bury yourself in technique.

    Call up and go see the model agencies. Meet sylists, hair, makeup etc and get shooting tests. Dont put too much emphasis on team in the beginning. It’s more important to get shooting even if that means no makeup or hair. Once people see your fire they will want to shoot with you. People are attracted to action!

    Look at every magazine in the world you can find. Look at the ones you love. Define what you like to look at. Shoot stories that are in keeping with that style and when you have a body of work you feel you are ready to show people, send it to all the RELEVANT magazines. But by all means, be realistic with the mags you contact. Research and start with the smaller ones which have reputation. Don’t send your work to a mag that isn’t relevant to your work. Don’t send your work to a magazine that is out of your reach. It takes a lot of time energy and money, don’t expect a response just keep advancing. It took me a year of sending to one mag before I got a response and some work. I now shoot every month for them.

    This business is ALL about relationships. It takes time to build – don’t rush it cause you’ll mess it up. treat people how you want to be treated – it seems obvious, but it seems it’s not!

    You’ve got to understand that there are people out there waiting to find young talent. So if you get moving and our work is outstanding, and you put yourself in the right places, send it to the right people, they will find you. How do you do this? research, network and mostly…TIME. Don’t make hasty moves. Don’t rush. Realistically – It takes a life time to get where the big names are these days. Things are different now that what they were 20 years ago. Even 10 years ago.

    Be ruthless with your own work. It takes 4 or 5 good editorials to recover from one bad one. You need a reliable network of knowledgeable people who give you an honest answer. You don’t want sycophants. You want to hear why your work isn’t working. You want to hear what you need to do to make it better, but of corse you need the right opinions from the right people, and all along you need to know that your opinion of your work is what ultimately drives you. A mentor is great, but realistically it’s seriously hard to find one that is relevant and worthwhile. Don’t spend your life telling yourself you need help when you can go get out and learn it your self in time. I’ve found that the quickest way forward is quite often the one that seems the longest way forward. Just get moving. If you’re frustrated about your progress, it’s because the time frame you’ve put on your success is not realistic. Don’t base your success on others – you are a complettely different case.

    The main thing, and I can’t stress it enough, is get known for your work. The people you are sending too are very busy and get alot of these kind of emails. Get known for your work NOT for being a pain the ass by bombarding them with useless phone calls and emails. Only communicate when you have something worth communicating ie. new work.

    As for locality. You can start where ever you are. But if you want to get somewhere then you’ve got to be prepared to move your life to one of the fashion centers. NY, Paris, London, Milan. If that seems daunting, just try go there on holiday – you might find it easier and more inspiring that you’d ever thought.

    Well there are some thoughts, hope it helps.

    • @D, D you really have great insight. We are talking on the phone while reading your posts and we appreciate your thorough and energetic experiences you are sharing. YOU ARE what we are talking about. The passion we feel from your posts is the PASSION we are referring too. THANK YOU for sharing some insight from your world in London! We also second the holiday experience – great tip!

      • @Amanda & Suzanne, You are most welcome, I hope this can help someone. And thankyou to you for all the research.

        I consider my self very lucky to have found my calling. To have a path. Your path is your dreams.

        My art and my dreams pave my path to self discovery and shows me who I am, who I am not. It’s a give and receive of energy and from that comes a great feeling of strength. It not only opens doors, but gives me the strength to look for those doors.

        Passion comes from the excitement of walking your path and seeing your dreams manifest.

    • @D,
      Good words which speak a difference between to plan and real work, thanks!

  22. There are really a lot of great ideas and all of them are very different. Everyone has their own way. And all you need is to really desire to get to the top and do everything you can do to get there.
    What works for some will not for others. You’ve got to find your own way that will work for you. And as it was said before, communication is crucial. And your personality is much more important than your techniques.

    • @Photographer, If you had great technique and great personality – just think where it could take you. But yes – be authentically YOURSELF both in technique and personality and that is what will get you to where you need to be (or WANT to be).

  23. Hey Jonathan and Ronald, great to see you guys in here.

    I think I fit the bill as an emerging fashion photographer and I feel Jonathan’s woes. Last year, I won the Surface Avant Guardian Project’s grand prize, an award I only dreamed of getting when I first started. I thought that it would help open some doors and put me on the radar, but no one called or emailed so it’s now back to square one. I’m still hopeful that one day, this will all pay off.

    I have two questions:

    Question one: Just how important is style to an emerging photographer? Based on interview of two of the photographers I respect most (Nick Knight and Solve Sundsbo) always stressed don’t worry about style and try not to define their work in one style. However, I’ve been told by others that it’s critical to have a style. I find that it’s difficult for me to fall into a style, and I find that different looks fit some stories better than others. Is this detrimental to my career and reflect poorly on me as a photographer?

    Question two: At one point in my career I was a photojournalist for the Washington Post and the NYT and learned that promos, cold calling, and good ol’ story telling gets your foot in the door…but with fashion photography that doesn’t seem to be the case. Outside of networking with stylists and emailing magazines, what else can we do to get our work in front of editors and art buyers? Are they as open to cold calling because e-mails almost certainly never get replied or looked at.


    • @Mark Gong,

      How do you do Mark and I am also pleased to recognize you on this post.

      I was wondering what you were up to…I recalled a thread on MM which you shared about your experiences in NYC.

      You’ve shed some light on those contests and/or awards. I’ve often thought about entering those contests–you know actually coming up with the funds to produce the project and/or suggest a collaboration amongst the talents.

      Thank you for the past advice and thoughts you’ve shared with me. I’ve internalized them.

      Happy Chinese New Year of the Tiger! Kung hay fat choy…I’ll privately disclose my Paypal account so you could deposit unpao money at your convenience. Hehe.


  24. Coming from the art side where I used to make work that was shown in galleries and art magazines where it was purely about what I was doing and saying personally as being the “selling” factor, I’m finding the challenge of the commerical reality where not only what you’re doing as a photographer is a factor, but also if it fits a desirable mold for a client to want to hire you very challenging.

    I think, at least for me, a gray area that arises when starting out in trying to emerge as a working fashion photographer is when your book rides that line between fashion and lifestyle. I know I have this dilemma when showing my work because I end up with comments like, “your work is too fashion for our publication” and then showing the same work to someone else I get “your work is too lifestyle for our publication”. I get this same sort of response when contacting photo reps in New York as well. I know some of this is the nice brush off response but it also gets me thinking and overworking my book to try and fit expectations and then this ends up influencing my work when trying to pad my book.

    I feel some established/working photographers seem to be able to ride this fine line between fashion and lifestyle but does one who is trying to get notice have to really focus on one of these when starting out? Should one really focus in on one selling point of view in concept, style, composition, etc if trying to break in to the fashion world?

  25. Anyone here care to guess how many slots (image makers) the fashion industry can support? Is there a market for 100 image makers, 200, 300, ??? ….

    Not the ‘clothing’ industry, but “fashion”.
    Support = earning a healthy living over an entire career: including savings, healthcare, retirement, etc. – not just paying rent, or having a great year or two.

    NYC, Paris, Milan, London, and Tokyo. The majority of *fashion* images are commissioned from these cities even if some are produced elsewhere. There other regions with small fashion publications too: China, Latin America, SE Asia, Russia, etc.

    I’m willing to bet the number of slots (opportunity) in professional sports, -or even the US senate- are comparable or more than the slots for image makers in fashion . The NBA alone has 450 players.

    • @Bob,

      Fashion is not for anyone who needs a secure outlook. The slots are filled and it’s gridlocked. To be frank, who cares how many image makers it can sustain when you’re going to make sure you’re one of the best?

      Luck is hard to come by in such a competitive industry so instead, you need to arm yourself with blind optimism and a thick skin.

  26. I wholeheartedly believe that the geography has become a problem for me. I live in Buffalo NY, Close enough to commute to Toronto and NYC for projects (which I do regularly) but it is a problem on occasion when you have the stigma of not living in a major market. Often times I find myself eating the cost of travel just to prevent a client from finding out that I am driving in from out of town. Its also been a struggle to find the clients that fit me and my work, often I am told, especially with my beauty work, that they love it, but its not the right fit for their project, too beauty, too style oriented, or two portraity, (depending on who you ask) Its an interesting journey to find your voice and make it work for you at the same time, especially because I spent time away from the photo industry for a few years before returning to it. I have been trying to develop a hybrid style that allows me to bring fashion and style elements to other portraits and to the music photography I do as well, in an effort to to be a little more versatile while still keeping my work “me”.

    •, you can shoot good work, I can tell by your site you’ve got what it takes. Problem is you’ve got some of the worst models I’ve ever seen. If those shots had been shot with experienced models who didn’t look like they were letting one rip while being photographed you’d be doing just fine right now. Again don’t take this personally, you have talent. Just get better models

      • @dude, This ties directly into what I was saying before, geographically there is a limited pool of talent to work with. I usually only get to work with agency models when traveling. However, I would not even have gotten started without some of the people on my site who I photograph. Everyone has to start somewhere. And I am grateful to them for their hard work and effort regardless of your informed and true, but crassly worded comment. However, you are indeed right, and as I begin to work with a higher caliber of model I will indeed begin to edit my portfolio more towards that level of talent as you suggest. (again thank you for your comment, its most certainly not taken personally) any constructive tips on how I might work on that area of my casting issues?

        • @Luke Copping,

          Haha, as harsh as dude’s words are, that was also the first thing that came to mind when I saw your images. I think part of the issue is recognizing editorial girls compared to commercial/lifestyle girls. While a girl may look attractive or pretty, it takes a certain look to be editorial, which is what high-end fashion is really about.

          Your location makes it very difficult to shoot editorial models…however there’s nothing wrong with shooting lifestyle girls well to start. Don’t fall into trying to editorial style shoots when you don’t have editorial models, it only reflects poorly on your casting.

          I think in your case, the best thing to do is to do a tighter edit on your images and keep only a handful of your strongest work. If editorial fashion is what you want to do, I highly recommend taking out any of the girls with fake color hair, piercing, tattoos, rounder features/faces, curves, etc…what you may find is that you only have a portfolio of 10 images but it would be far better than showing a wider range with girls who do not look like professional models.

          If you really want to take your work to the next level, you need to come down to the city and shoot agency girls. Start with smaller agencies like Red, Click, Q, MC2 and VNY…from there, work your way up to Elite, Ford, Major…after a year or two and a book of only editorial girls, get your foot in the door with Women, Supreme, IMG, etc. has a good list of top agencies in NY. Cold calling worked for me when I first got into the city. Ask for their development board and send them your portfolio. Like I said, make sure it’s tight with no fillers.

          Good luck!

        • @Luke Copping, honestly go meet with a professional agency, tell them to look at your website and tell them that the people you are shooting are holding you back, the technical skill still shines through to anyone though.. if they agree it’s game on.. if not try one of the other agencies in NY, there are plentyyyy. you’re gonna have to keep making these trips nyc though if you want quality work in your book and to be taken seriously you’ll have to pay the price.

          • Personally I wouldn’t say it was holding you back. This job is always about making the best of what you have and I think you demonstrate that well.

            Yes. Call up the model agencies, either meet them or send them some work and ask for some models. Build a relationship with the agency. Don’t expect or try to do this in one conversation or email. It takes years of working with them.

            What you have to understand is, THEY are getting something from it too. So don’t be shy as you’re bringing something very valuable to the table.

            • @D, Thanks for the advice everyone, I am already putting together plans to start making more regular trips to NYC and Toronto to work with Agency girls.

          • @dude, this is the REAL dude.

            PLEASE get your own handle.

            APE – you can verify this by the faux-dude poster’s IP address.

            • Yeah, faux-dude grab your own handle. I’m sure it was an innocent hijack.

          • @dude, So true- have a client in LA area and the models were just not there so had him contact Ford and the new images are stunning! The talent makes a HUGE difference. You can shoot a beautifully lit shot but if the viewer focuses only or the bad talent- that is all they remember. Luke, use it to your advantage that you are between two fashion mecca’s and make yourself a photographer for both. And remember many fashion shoots are done in a tropical location that travels the whole crew!

      • @dude, this post was brought to you by a faux-dude.

        • @dude, had no idea there were two of us, honest mistake

  27. Great advice! Love the varying perspectives, For a first year shooter who aspires to do great things, this was some invaluable advice.

  28. Great post, very interesting
    Well i shoot stills now but i was once a fashion photographer and an assistant in fashion and i agree with D, you have to be ready to spit blood and assist for a while but the most important thing is to have the passion and to be original. D has the passion and the guts to go on in this business, i remember once we were on location shooting for basically 3 months(all different catalogue and editorials), day and night and weekends, is hard to explain unless you have been there, when your legs are soared and your brain is fried and you still have to pack tons of equipment or fed ex the film in nyc to the lab and then go eat at 11(and look good) and wake up the morning after at 5 but i feel like after you do this and you make your contacts and develop your style then you have to be ready for it, assisting is a good way to learn but you can’t do it forever and when you stop that is the moment you have to be ready to dance.
    Once you are ready do not assist anyone anymore, do something else to make a living and be selective of what you shoot.
    Be original that is really important, about the way you see fashion and photography it’s about being creative, you are the one that decide the hair and makeup and control the style.
    Also…move to Paris or London, it’s much easier to start in this business over there, i know it’s a big step but you’ll find stylist that have more time and they can get all the clothes they want(most of the designers are over there) and magazines that are willing to take a chance on new photographers.
    I have a friend of mine that moved back to europe after assisting here for a while and he met few good stylist and now is working for many magazines over there, and is building is portfolio with good girls and clothes and makeup and hair, he doesn’t make a penny yet but ppl are paying attention to his work.
    I sound like everyone else but be original and have the guts to do it and give them what they haven’t seen before and what you like, i know it’s hard but if there’s a will there’s a way.
    Sorry for my english i am italian

  29. Thank you so much for this article. As a New York City native and photographer, I find it interesting how impatient people can be when they arrive in the “Big Apple”. The mentality that a newly arrived individual can “get” or “take” what is rightfully theirs appears to detract from the necessity of learning the “lay of the land”.

    Building relationships, working with small consistent groups of specialized talent. Overall, this article is useful for any photographer who is building a brand/business in a major city. The “greats” don’t get their by sheer creative talent alone.

    Surely, this creative talent is not what keeps you at the TOP of your game. Combining the right place, time, skills, passion and love is seemingly the best recipe for success.

    This article helped me to see how easily our egos (my own included) can get in the way of this quality of success. Thank you again for sharing.

  30. I had written to Amanda & Suzanne in regards to their post on Fashion photography and Model Agency testing. Amanda replied with a suggestion to post my original email to them , on here APE .
    So Here is the Body of the Email , I hope it helps out.
    My name is Escalante, I am writing to you in regards to the article you posted on, ‘A Photo Editor ‘Blog,
    I have written a couple of articles on the very subject and they are posted on my Sponsor’s web site
    Here is the link to my bio, also on that page links to the two articles.
    I have worked as a test photographer for many yrs working the agency circuit and have experience placing models, as a mother agent.
    My client list, other than that , ranges from publications (editorials, article pieces etc) to clothing lines and as of recently food and location.
    While it has been a huge road up in the ‘fashion industry’ even at the level I am at, & it is one that has paid off ; I have a good Eye , so a few of the models I have placed are beginning to do very well, as are many of the girls I have tested over the years, they have matured and have become successful and accomplished industry pros. I have 6 ‘supermodels’ in my book and a handful more ‘up & coming’, I have been testing with Elite Chicago since 87 (it is now changed entities, and now called Factor) &have worked with Mgmt First / JJ Cortez (for 2.5 yrs) as DP, I traveled extensively with him also . All of this being based out of Chicago, LA & Barcelona ; markets which are major bases and are which you may not be fully aware of, not from this perspective at least.
    Let me explain (and Please forgive me if this is already common knowledge to you ) Chicago is a Vital center of development for models , there are many smaller agencies scattered across the Midwest and west , that feed in to that market’s agencies, not much different as let’s say the Baseball system, minor leagues , major leagues etc.
    Elite Chicago is a perfect example. It is one of the strongest branches of the Company outside of NYC & Home office, Paris. Even today the top Board of Elite NYC can be 65-85% from Chicago , and same goes for the LA Market.
    Agencies such as Donna Baldwin/ Denver, Nancy Campbell/ Dallas strong agencies themselves, will act as a mother agent and offer their boards to Elite Chicago for Further market development, from there they are taken further to NYC, Europe, Asia, etc. The system has been in place like this for many years. People I am paid to test for , agencies like View Management in Barcelona, will have people from Chicago, St Louis Dallas, etc. sent there for both development as well as for seasonal work , It is a HUGE interconnected web.
    You are a little bit off on the statement that you are not aware of any photographers who have made it ‘big’ by testing. I beg to differ, I know SEVERAL.
    And let us not forget that success and making it ‘big’ is subjective. To myself and many others, being able to maintain a booked calendar and rake in a profit with a wonderful client base that Is ever expanding, is making it big, and being successful.
    Testing with an agency is the first step on the road, many of the ‘BIG SHOOTERS’ with the HUGE FASHION accounts WON’T look at you for assisting without a strong book, and that means Having agency level models in it. Being in Chicago which was at one time ( & still is) a Huge Commercial photography center, (ad agencies are based here, Leo Burnett, JWT) I was able to assist ‘big’ photographers.
    While People such as Marc Hauser, Stan Malinowski, Victor Skrebneski, legendary icons on the world of Fashion / Editorial / Artistic and Photography in General, are all based out of Chicago.
    LA, hmm where do I start? There is NO REAL Fashion in LA. It is useful as market for photographers to maintain a profit; it is also a solid base for Asian expansion.
    When I was in southern California I was able to shoot 24/7 and generate a good profit margin just with testing alone. 85% of the models there are there because they want to be actors.
    It is also a Wonderful place to venture in to actor/celebrity portraits etc. You never know where a pretty face will end up, when you are in LA.
    15% of the rest are there seasonally if not on the way to Asia. LA is a great base for further expansion in to the Asian market for a photographer Hong Kong Japan, Singapore, China, are rich and strong markets all growing with every season. One Last note on LA, be ready to ‘play’ and be ready to ‘show off ‘ the worst shooters are working cause they are ‘cool’, FYI.
    This is also where your statement on the ‘gay‘topic comes in to play a lot. Let’s leave it at that. I consider LA a ‘once to twice a yr’ thing. Short trips at Best .
    Barcelona is incredible for several reasons it is an old, young city. It is where MANY and I Do MEAN MANY models are based out of for the simple reason of Expense. It’s cheap to live there.
    It is Cheap to fly out of there. Models in that market fly to London, Milan and Paris, Germany and Austria, the way we fly from Chicago to LA & NYC. Models are sent there after or before being sent to Greece & then to Milan, again, these are both development cities as well as strong seasonal markets. Vital for a successful photographer‘s growth.
    While Milan is the center of fashion couture, it is expensive to live there to work as are London and Paris. You are paying 15+ euro for a burger which isn’t really what you think is a burger…
    These are the insider knowledge no one writes about or teaches, but it is the method that has worked.
    Agency testing isn’t easy, BUT, The exposure you receive is invaluable, for myself it has opened so many many doors that I would not had been able to cross if I had stayed assisting for longer than I did. It has also helped to maintain my edge in the ever changing market. The constant flow of new faces and how they have remained the same on, one hand while changing so drastically on the other hand.
    It has kept me fresh.
    The first time I walked in to View Management in Barcelona for possible testing, I met with the Head Booker of the Men’s Division, I mentioned my experience, & who I’d shot recently etc,
    He had IMG on Speed Dial; He called them on speaker phone while I was there in front of him, to verify me. I passed with flying colors, even asked me if I had anyone fresh for him to sign.
    He then proceeded to keep my busy for the next 3 months testing. Then His boss , the agency owner, recommended me to a few of his Friends who were editors. It went from there.

    Testing with an agency is the proving ground of an emerging photographer, it means they are able to grasp the concept of marketing, and how to use their style of work to market a product.
    The product being the Model. It is something I go further in to, in one of the articles I mention above on the Lexar Site.
    The faces in your book as well as the ‘freshness’ while being able to maintain one’s style is a juggling act not many can maintain. The same goes for the other side of the coin.
    The side you mentioned.
    I have former assistants who are emailing me , asking me for advice, how do I update, where do I go from here, etc. NOT EVERY assistant gets the photographers’ leftovers, (so to speak) and not every assistant is going to follow that path, many are strong enough to strike on their own, but just aren’t aware of how or what step to take next. That’s when I get the emails.
    I recall one Surface Magazine surface magazine Avant Guardian contest winner whom I had an email correspondence with for 2-3 yrs, just couldn’t adapt. He just couldn’t crack the needed code to make the transition from His ‘Vision’ to His Vision ala Marketability , he couldn’t handle not being able to NOT hit on the models or advance from his own methods and habits in to a professional and profitable system and manner of working as a professional, he disappeared …. His site disappeared one day, he stopped emailing and my replies bounced. It happens such is life.
    I hope this sheds light on some of the gaps that I noticed in your article.
    Thank you again!

  31. Hi,

    what do you think about a photographer with two websites or a website that trys to appeal to different markets???

    Im working on my fashion portfolio & of course putting it on my site but I do not live in a major city so the only things in my city to get paid for is wedding,portrait,small commercial type stuff..

    If doing one website I don’t want to scare off the family/wedding people with cool cutting edge fashion stuff & then I don’t want to scare off fashion people with boring wedding/senior portrait stuff…. so is the answer to have two websites? but I don’t want it to seem like to much, is it common.

    Thank you.

  32. I am wondering what your thoughts are on London. I spent about 4 years, 2 in Paris and 1 and a half in London and now I am back in NYC (due to visa issues and being deported back to the U.S. 2 months ago).

    I work in the office of one of the top artist management agencies in the world and I find that all but 3 of the 10 photographers they represent are based in Paris or London. Most of their editorial work is in Europe or Asia aside from V, VMan or W here in the U.S.

    I guess my question is, even though I prefer the culture/lifestyle and the very present art community in London, do you really think it is better to be in New York? Even when the great photographers I would like to assist are in London?

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