If you like to see more #blackandwhite photography check out my new photobook #ANGELS:
‘A little poker face hurt nobody’ must have been the thought of Sandro Achilles when he bluffed her way into photography at a models event in New York City. Quickly he became a self-taught fashion and editorial photographer who now dreams of having a book published worldwide.
Profession: Gentleman, Photographer, Blogger and CEO
Milestones: every picture again…
Current Location: Miami, Los Angeles, New York City and Milano in Italy
How did you get into fashion photography?
You probably expect to hear that I picked up my first camera at the age of 12. That I by then already knew it was going to be my life purpose and that I would never ever leave that camera alone! But that didn’t happen. Only a view years ago I thought, what career seems like a lot of fun, is never going to bore me and will make me really happy? I figured it had to be photography.
I heard everything is possible in New York City, the Big Apple, so after the study architecture I booked a ticket there. I had no idea what I was doing and by chance I was invited to a model party – where the owner of the agency asked me ‘are you a good photographer?’, Wisely I said ‘yes I’m a really good photographer’ – and that’s when I first learned the concept of test shoots. He introduced me to some models and there were quite a few who wanted to do a test shoot with me, I felt really good, it’s starting!
They asked me, unaware that I just started, what type of photographer I was – and I had no idea what type of photographer I was – but I replied ‘I’m a fashion photographer’. And there I was, feeling proud to say so.
For me fashion photography is so pleasing to look at, I feel really happy and fulfilled when I see a photo where the visuals excite my brain so much. I love art in general very much, which I did figure out a very long time ago already. But it was only recently that I decided I too wanted to be a creator of such thrill. And that’s how I got into fashion photography.
Were you educated in photography or are you self-taught?
I’m self-taught, but I get a lot of help from friends, Workshops, other Creative people, who give me feedback on every photo before it gets published.
Wich education would you recommend?
Istitutomarangoni at Milano Italy, or mastered.com as a 10 month online education.
Where do you find your inspiration?
I get very very inspired on the Internet, Vogue Magazin and Art Galleries. And my favorite Photographer are Peter Lindbergh, Mario Testino, Helmut Newton etc.
If you could shoot anything/anyone/anywhere in the world – what/who/where would that be?
In a Barrock Castle… 1 week with an army of models and dozens of fashion collections.
Which photo are you currently most proud of?
I’m having a really hard time learning to be proud of my photos. I love them, then I hate them and then I love them again… Right now I really like the photo for my book cover. I love the model and how the swimwear looks and I love the simple picture look, beachlife and Malibu Feeling.
What was the biggest challenge throughout your career so far?
every day is a new challenge…
You must be really busy. If there’s one thing you wish you could spend more time on, what would it be?
Photography… and my Family
What are 5 things people don’t know about you?
1. I smoke cigars, Texas Lancero or Partagas Havanas.
2. I ‘m not interested in some technical aspects for photography… i’m just interested in the story behind each photo… picture language, time spirit and story.
3. I love fashion… It’s an Addiction… Pal Zileri, Louis Vuitton… my favs.
4. I love to dance: Bachata… and Salsa… sometimes Tango Argentina.
5. I love a good espresso… just an Italian coffee…perfect style
Wheres your favorite place?
There, where the asphalt becomes to sand…
When you’re working with a model, how important is communication during a shoot?
Before every shoot, I send the model(s) a mood board for them to study, so they can understand the concept and have in mind what types of poses and looks we are going for. The communication during the shoot is mostly just me being happy, cheering and encouraging what they are doing.
When someone looks at your photography, what do you want them to know about you?
Preferably, as little as possible.
What’s your game plan over the next 5 years?
Being published by Harper’s Bazaar and Vogue. What about having my own book #ANGELS published worldwide? Go Live with my e-learning platform for creative people online as soon as possible www.creative-matador.com
Do you have any model you would like to work with?
Adriana Lima, Irina Shayk, Emily Ratajkowski
Where can we follow you?
This interview will be publicated in a NY Photography Magazin January 2017.
One of the biggest secrets of successfully fashion photography is “styling”. Yes, thats right. Styling is one of the key topics to a successfully photoshooting.
Every picture with gorgeous light settings on nice locations looks flat without the right fashion. You know, we talk about fashion and editorial photography, not landscape or nude or something else. Just fashion photography.
The different between good “fashion photography” and extraordinary “fashion photography” are the wardrobe. The styling. My tipp is, as a photographer invest in a good wardrobe stylist as soon as possible.
What does a Stylist do?
The stylist seems to be the new most coveted fashion job at the moment, but how many people actually know what a stylist does? Let me break it down for you.
The stylist is responsible for creating “style.” Ok, I know that sounds vague, but essentially the stylist is deciding what a model or person wears, and HOW they wear it. The main roles of a stylist can essentially be broken down into these three categories:
1.) Editorial styling / Styling for photoshoots
2.) Brand consultancy
3.) Celebrity styling
1. Let’s start with Editorial styling / Styling for photoshoots. When a stylist works on a photoshoot, he or she basically chooses the clothing, the accessories, and/or the general “look” of the model for the shoot. In the case of a magazine shoot, the stylist would be given some direction from the magazine or art director as to what the theme was (spring summer bright colours, animal prints, etc…) and what brands need to be featured. Remember that the brands featured in a glossy magazine are mostly the brands that advertise, so the magazine needs to make sure they get editorial coverage. The team would be named (photographer, hair, make up, etc…) and sometimes the stylist would have some say in this. Once the “concept” for the shoot was finalized with the photographer, the stylist must then pull the clothing for the shoot.
If an editorial spread was to have 6 pages and 5 outfits, then a stylist would normally pull at least ten outfits, probably more. You never know how things will work out on the day, and it is important that there are alternatives if things don’t work out as planned. In order to pull the outfits, the stylist will consult lookbooks, contact PR’s and showrooms, and sometimes pull directly from stores. Lookbooks are catalogues of designer’s collections, usually the catwalk looks, so sometimes they just use Style.com or similar to see what each designer has put onto the catwalk. If the stylist finds something they want to use, they call the brand’s PR agency or department, and request the item. The item may not necessarily be available, as it may be in another country or on another shoot, so this needs to be confirmed first. If it is available, then they stylist will have it sent to their office, or go and pick it up.
Stylists will also contact PR agencies or brand showrooms when they are searching for clothing or accessories for a shoot. This could work two ways, either they could call and say “I am doing a shoot on animal prints, do you have anything that can go into the shoot?” and the PR will pull all the relevant animal print items and show them to the stylist. The other option is for the stylist to visit the showroom, and browse through the collections. Something may stand out, and they will decide to use that in the shoot.
If a stylist is pulling directly from a store (this can happen if they are using vintage pieces), then they visit the store, choose the item, and leave a deposit, or pay for the item and be refunded when it is returned.
Once all the clothing and accessories are chosen, the stylist needs to make sure they get to the shoot safely (which can be quite a drama if the shoot is very far away, and requires 5 suitcases of clothing to be flown halfway across the world.) On the day of the shoot, the stylist needs to make sure the garments are photo-ready (ironed, clean, etc…) and will also be responsible for choosing the outfits the model wears, and arranging them on the model as the photographs get taken (they make sure the item isn’t hanging funny, creased, un-tucked, etc…) Styling also involves the “style” of the outfit: is the top falling off the shoulder, is the shirt half tucked in, are the socks scrunched down by the ankles… These are all very important elements in a photoshoot. This same role can apply to TV commercials, music videos, or even film and television (although then we are getting into wardrobe positions, which is a slightly different story.)
And don’t confuse the stylist with the art director, which are quite different roles. The art director chooses and directs the theme of the photoshoot (and as a result, directs the entire team) whereas the stylist is only in charge of the clothing and accessories, or the way the model looks. Not every shoot has an art director, but for advertising campaigns and large commercial projects, there will always be an art director.
2. Brand consultancy is another role of a stylist. This involves several elements, some brands hire stylists throughout the whole process (ex. Emmanuelle Alt played a big role in the shaping of Balmain), and others bring in a stylist at the end of the collection process, when most of the clothes have been designed, but they need someone to help “pull it together.”
If the stylist is involved throughout the whole process, which is unusual but can happen, then they will attend some design meetings from the beginning of the collection process. The designer will show them research, ideas, and sketches, and the stylist will give them input. This can also involved bringing in their own ideas, visual research, interesting garments they have found, etc… and show them to the design team. The stylist essentially becomes a part of the design team, but they don’t do any physical designs, they just give their ideas.
Most of the time, the stylist gets involved in the collection close to the end, once most of the garments are designed, but help is needed to “tie them together.” When I worked at Sonia Rykiel, Carine Roitfeld used to style our collections. She would come in once a week or every ten days, starting about eight weeks before the show, and help choose the show looks. A fit model would be present, as well as all of the collection sample garments, and we would try on the different garments and choose the catwalk looks. Sometimes Carine would make suggestions of new pieces, for example, making a longer version of a piece, or trying it in a different colour or cut. She would also sometimes bring in vintage pieces and suggest we use that as inspiration (or copy it, which is the more honest way to describe what we’d do with vintage pieces.) We would also choose all the catwalk looks, and the order in which they’d be shown. This could include the garments, accessories, and how the clothes were worn. The stylist who works on the show often also styles the photoshoot.
3. Celebrity styling is the area I am least familiar with, but it is pretty self explanatory. A stylist can work with a celebrity on a regular basis (dressing her/him for day to day as well as events) or the stylist will work with them simply for a special occasion, such as an event. When dressing a celebrity for an event, the stylist needs to consider the brand (does the celebrity have any brand relationships they need to support?), current trends, and what the message is (do they want to shock, make the celebrity look more “respectable”, etc…) This is also a difficult area to get into (well, all good styling jobs are pretty hard to secure.)
How does one get into styling? Well, there is no university course that is going to get you a job like this. First of all, you need to have a good eye. Secondly, some sort of fashion education helps, but isn’t necessary. Ultimately it is about assisting other stylists while learning the ropes, and then hopefully being able to go out on your own. You also need to make contacts with PR’s who will lend you clothes
I had a friend who managed to build herself a very good styling career, by doing just that. We studied together at Ecoles de la Chambre Syndicale in Paris, and in her second year (of three) a friend of ours suggested she apply to be Carine Roitfeld’s second assistant (the first assistant was leaving, and the second assistant was being promoted.) She left school and took on the job, able to do so because her parents had an apartment in Paris and supported her while she worked for free (actually, I can’t remember if she was actually working for free at the very beginning, but I am pretty sure she was. If not, she would have been paid peanuts.) Eventually, she was promoted to first assistant, and that is when Carine got the job at Vogue Paris. My friend then ended up as an employee there, and over the next few years established herself as a stylist, whose clients are now Paris, Japan, China, and Teen Vogue, as well as some major brands including Maxmara. But it isn’t as easy as that, she worked very, very hard to get there. She worked a LOT. Weekends, evenings, anytime Carine needed her. I witnessed it, and I wasn’t envious, despite the fact that she had invitations to all the big shows and lots of free clothes.
Anyway, for those of you out there trying to establish yourselves as stylists, start testing as soon as possible. That means doing “trial” shoots, where you work with a team who is looking to create their portfolio, and everyone works for free. Building a portfolio, getting experience, and making contacts are the first steps in a styling career. You also need to have a good eye, and that is something that cannot really be taught.
As a strategic thinking photographer. Search as soon as possible a good stylist and work with them. Its a big plus for you, your work and your career as a fashion photographer.