A couple of weeks ago I came across the website of fashion and editorial photographer Adriana Curcio. I was immediately impressed by the quality of her work and spent the next half an hour looking through (and learning from) her portfolios. I shot Adriana an email and asked if she’d be interested in sharing some tips with DPS readers. Following are 7 tips (and a few images) that she took the time to write up.
When asked to write about tips and advice for aspiring photographers, I mulled over a few different topics, and everything I came up with was technically related. Then, I thought about myself, and my journey into fashion photography, and thought about the advice I wished I’d been given. What I needed were tips about the little things that fall through the cracks when you’re so focused on getting the mechanics down. The truth of the matter is, you can create an image that is 100% technically correct, but the elements that truly make your image worth looking at may be lost. So here’s my list of tips…Getting the Whole Picture.
In my opinion this is the most important bit of advice I can give you. In fact, don’t just prepare, over prepare! I never walk on to a set without having a concrete idea of what I’m looking to achieve. I have books, and books of tear sheets of images of lighting, makeup, hair, styling, posing, editing, etc. It’s very easy to become burnt out as a photographer, but if you have these books of inspiring images to glance through, I can pretty much guarantee something will catch your eye, and a concept or story will begin to develop.
2. It’s Your Concept
Working in fashion, there is obviously a team of hair stylists, makeup artists, and stylists I work with, however, I’m involved in all of it from A-Z. I’m always open to suggestions, and ideas, and love to see what others can bring to the table, but I never hand over the reigns. You cannot let someone else take over your vision. If you do, it will read in your images. You need a very smooth execution of your story in order for your audience to grasp it, so be sure to take control of it.
3. Move and Move some more
I experiment from every possible angle when I’m shooting. I shoot and move, shoot and move. You can’t wait for the shot to come to you, you have to go find it.
4. Be a Director
I direct, A LOT. There are some models that don’t need a lot of direction, and I love to be inspired by what they bring to set, however, I don’t lose sight of my direction. Again, you can’t wait for the shot to come to you, you have to create it.
5. Break the Rules
Whomever said “rules are meant to be broken,” was on the right track. I was taught the correct way to light my subjects, and for a long time that’s what I did. After a few fortunate accidents, I realized there’s something to be said about high contrast, and dramatic lighting. Not everything needs to be lit just so, or be perfectly flattering. Bend and break the rules, and see what you find. You will surprise yourself.
6. Never Stop Shooting
Shoot whenever, and where ever. The second you stop shooting, is the second your “photographic brain” starts slowly disappearing and getting lazy. You start losing your creative energy, and second guessing yourself, then you begin to thinki maybe you’re not good enough, etc. If you keep on shooting, you don’t have the chance to fall into that hole. Once you’re there, it’s hard to dig yourself out! Shoot, shoot, shoot!
You have to believe in yourself, and your work! The best way to learn is to completely throw yourself into it. You can’t be afraid to screw up! The reality of the situation is that inevitably, you will screw up! But it’s ok, it’s actually wonderful because it’s how you learn. Every time I make a mistake on set, I learn, and know better for next time. My first shoot with clients, I almost walked off set because I didn’t trust myself, and I was so scared of making a mistake, and embarrassing myself. I sat there running through all the possible disasters that could occur, then I shut it all out because I knew if I didn’t shoot then, I never would! The images from that shoot are some of my favorite images to date!
Do yourself a favor and check out more of Adriana’s fashion and editorial photography at www.adrianacurcio.com.