Fashion Photographer Phalasies

© Benjamin Kanarek

I have been asked on many occasions about how one might embark on to the rocky road of the Fashion Business.  I discussed this topic from an academic perspective in one of my earlier essays.  However, I feel compelled to discuss some of the “Phalasies” associated with breaking in to the “Biz”.

Do you have to be a good photographer to break in to the fashion industry?

The answer in an unequivocal NO!  It hasn’t so much to do with talent, but with attitude, panache, perspective and audacity.  How you perceive and translate the social fabric (no pun intended) in to imagery is a very important part of the process.

Do you need to be good technically to succeed?

Again, the answer is a very adamant NO!!!  As any photographer can ally themselves with a good post production company or individual, getting your images to look polished or really unpolished is not difficult.  When I shot with film and photoshop was not as yet in the mainstream and in it’s infancy, I actually had to get it right from the get go.  If not, I wouldn’t get past first base.

Can I get the job once my Portfolio is ready?

What is ready? Actually the answer is, it depends. Unfortunately having a Great Book, will not do the trick.  Networking is one of the most important aspects of getting a gig. Knowing the appropriate person in the right position to give you an opportunity is essential. Also knowing who not to ask is as important as knowing who to ask. If you did not know that going to the Art Director shows your naivety by not knowing that it would have been better to see the Editor for a specific magazine, that alone can ruin your chances of getting in to the circle. The inverse also applies in other cases.  Going to see the Editor can really piss off the Art Director. They may think that you were trying to circumvent their authority.  It is a very political business in that respect. Do your research and find out who can really make the decision. It is often more than just one person. But none the less do you HOMEWORK.

To succeed, do you need to be in the major centers?

The answer is YES!

If you are not in New York, Paris, London, Milan, Los Angeles or Tokyo and in some cases, Madrid, Sao Paulo, Chicago, Munich, Miami, Toronto, Berlin and Moscow, best to reconsider your goals. Be ready to pack your bags and prepare yourself for a fun ride.

Do I need “Pro Gear” to break in to the business?

NO, NO and NO.  Work with what you have and when you get the job, the client will pay for the rental of anything you might need to accomplish the completion of the project. I don’t have a studio. I have some flash gear for my own personal work and to experiment with. In all cases, the client has paid  and will do so for all of the technical support costs. I just have to bring myself to the shoot. I can bring an assistant or use the assistants available at the studio. If I want to use my gear and it is appropriate to get the job done, I will do so. It is You and not your gear that they are hiring.

More “Photographer Phalasies” to Come…

Great Bert Stern Video

Here is how NOT to be a Fashion Photographer

About Benjamin Kanarek
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Fashion and Beauty Photographer. Some of the magazines I have shot for include: VOGUE (China, Portugal, Brazil, Italia, Paris and South America & Mexico editions), RG VOGUE Brazil, Harper’s BAZAAR (China, en Español & Latin America, Hong Kong, Italy editions), L’Officiel Paris, ELLE (Spain, Portugal and Greece editions), Madame Figaro (France), Cosmopolitan (France and Italy editions), Glamour (France), Votre Beauté, Jardin des Modes, Dépêche Mode, New York Daily News, Fashion District News, New York Times Magazine, W (British edition), WWD, Fashion Magazine (Canada), Flare (Canada), Oyster, Tank, WestEast…
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  • Harkiran

    You, Sir, are hysterical 😀 thank you.

  • James Andrews

    Well Ben, I know you and you seem like a very “appropriate” person; and as I’ve had the audacity to ask can I come and help you help me in this “Phashion” business?
    Every photographer dreams of an assistant like me, poor Richard Avedon turns in his grave about it..
    I have my credit card out and ready to book the Next flight to the major centre of Paris, so do I get to assist the great Benjamin Kanarek yet?

    • I’m afraid that I have my hands full at this juncture in time. 🙂

      • James Andrews

        Exactly!

  • shiraz

    very nice page i like it i truly understand your point by posting these both videos you are not making fun of anyone i know you trying to tell keep doing never stop shooting do hardwork keep your courage high never be disappointed never feel like a failure dont rely or depend on your gear i think i am right 🙂

  • Benjamin Kanarek

    @:

    Yes, I would agree with you, that Berlin is an up and coming Fashion Center.

  • Dea

    Hey,

    I have a question. Would you think about Berlin as a Fashion capital or maybe not ?

    I heard a lot of times that people see Berlin as a “underground fashion capital” but not for “real” fashion.

    What’s your opinion on this ?

    Thanks,

    Dea

  • …and the best part is “always ask before you touch…!” LOL

  • Hey Ben,

    If I understood the tutorial by “photographersacademy” correctly, it looks like a radiologist and fashion-beauty photographer have a lot in common. Right?

    Fred

  • Pierre Champagne

    Thanks for sharing this! Interesting to read that it is a very political business but not surprising.
    When I look at your work and some other well known photographers, I believe that talent is essential though. You’re too modest.
    Thx again!