Fashion photographer based in NYC, California, and beyond who has worked with a variety of clients including Teen Vogue, NYLON, Clinique, Refinery29, and Nike.
DESCRIBE YOURSELF AND THE WORK THAT YOU CREATE.
I’m a photographer based in NYC & CA specializing in colorful portraits & fashion imagery--and occasionally travel snapshots. I like to shoot mostly in natural light and on location. I’m spontaneous and quick on my feet when I shoot. I look for pairings of similar colors and like to place my subjects in vibrant scenes that make the image more than just a standard portrait.
WHO HAVE YOU WORKED WITH AND WHAT WAS YOUR FAVORITE ASSIGNMENT?
Some of my recent clients include Teen Vogue, Refinery29, NYLON, Clinique, Vans and Diane Von Furstenberg. I think with each new assignment my stance on “favorite" changes. Most recently I really enjoyed shooting Kehlani for a feature in NYLON. Getting to shoot a variety of setups with somebody who already has a strong personal style and is widely photographed is an exciting challenge as I try and portray them accurately but also from a new angle.
WHAT ARE YOUR GO TO ESSENTIALS AND TOOLS?
For commissioned shoots I often like to bring the majority of my kit. But I mostly stick to shooting with a 50mm for portraits. I like to wear overalls with deep pockets on shoots to store my film and extra memory cards so I can sort of be independent and quick. I’m quite petite and I don’t like to be weighed down by gear, so when I’m shooting personal work I might be only carrying a light weight Canon AE-1 film camera around my neck and four or five rolls of film in my mini backpack.
RECOUNT YOUR JOURNEY TO BECOMING A PHOTOGRAPHER.
I was really interested in graphic design and Photoshop in middle school. I would just edit photographs I found on the internet and make layout designs on Neopets (embarrassing, but true). I even had a “portfolio” page. I think I was about 10 years old when Myspace came around and I started taking photographs of myself and friends using some of those early Photoshop skills. I think those beginnings of being part of an online creative community eventually led me to Flickr which led to some of my first commissions and a stronger push to apply to NYU and to live in NYC.
YOU'VE TAKEN A LOT OF RISKS ALONG THE WAY, BUT WHAT WAS YOUR DEFINING ONE WHERE EVERYTHING WAS ON THE LINE?
Here and there I’ve taken breaks from NYC to travel during periods right after I’ve been getting a lot of commissions. I like to break up my routine and reinvest in the way I see the world by traveling. So my risks have been just being quite nomadic the last few years. A lot of clients email frequently to check in to say: "Hey! Where in the world are you right now/are you available to shoot this in NY or LA?" I’m going to be full-time in NYC for the most part starting this spring but I think having taken those breaks from NYC really allowed me to create some images in my portfolio that make it stronger and more representative of my vision, despite some of the missed opportunities I had to turn down during my travels.
HOW HAVE YOUR FAMILY AND FRIENDS SUPPORTED YOU THROUGHOUT IT ALL?
My mom encouraged me early on to use photography as a way to earn money during high school by getting hired by local clients. I think that really helped me value it as more than just an after school hobby. My family and friends are excited about the opportunities photography has afforded me but they don’t gush over the images. It’s more of a pat on the back and a high five, which I like. I think if the people around you are too consistently complimentary about your work, it makes you less inclined to work hard for their approval. I’m not seeking high reverence from those I love, but I appreciate rare instances here and there where my loved ones say “Ok, this is really good”.
LOOKING BACK ON ALL THAT HAS UNFOLDED, WHAT NUGGETS OF WISDOM HAVE YOU LEARNED AND EMBRACED?
Good work and a recognizable style gets your foot in the door, but a positive and open-minded attitude keeps people coming back and willing to help you grow! Treat everyone who helps you out equally and with respect (from your producer to your assistant to the caterer).
WHAT DO YOU FEEL HAS ALLOWED YOU TO BREAK THROUGH AND SUCCEED, PARTICULARLY AMONGST YOUR PEERS?
I constantly shoot! I like to have a camera on me most days and intersperse my personal work with my commissions on social media to show another side of my life. I’m not very pushy when it comes to reaching out to clients, but if I meet somebody who says they want to collaborate or work together, I always follow up promptly and try to meet in person to create a connection. I like asking questions for the sake of it, and sometimes it leads to accidentally meeting the right people who want to steer you in the right direction.
WHO ARE THE MENTORS THAT HAVE INFLUENCED AND INSPIRED YOUR LIFE?
At 16 years old I took a photography class at my local community college on Wednesday nights for fun. It was taught by Dean Tokuno, a fashion photographer in NYC during the 80s. I was the youngest person in the course, and perhaps, the most serious, which Dean paid close attention to. The course wasn’t about creating work. It was more of a lecture about his own experiences within the industry and looking at the industry now from afar. To be able to find somebody in my small town who had essentially lived the life I sought out from afar was a close up look into whether or not I might want to pursue photography professionally. Dean had left the hustle of NYC to pursue smaller markets, but offered me what he knew and allowed me to assist on some of his commercial shoots which helped give me a sense of professionalism early on. Also, the photo editors at Refinery29. I started interning at Refinery29 when it was gaining popularity, but still just a one room open layout office in the East Village. Now it’s a household name amongst my peers! Immediately my photo editors trusted me, throwing me into the mix to shoot on assignment, treating me as a professional. When my internship ended, they started sending me on paid assignments regularly while I still maintained a full-time schedule at NYU. They taught me an amazing work ethic and I also feel like their strong aesthetic as a brand helped me define a more commercial visual style.
WHAT ARE THE THINGS THAT KEEP YOU CREATIVELY INSPIRED AND CONSISTENTLY INNOVATING?
Traveling, putting myself in new environments. It could be a subway stop in a neighborhood across town from my apartment or it could be all the way across the Atlantic Ocean. I recently visited Hong Kong. While there, I made an effort to visit a rural area in Mainland China which was entirely opposite from Hong Kong. It was so fun to explore contrasting examples of “Chinese” culture visually. The colors of landscapes across the world vary so much, and I love experiencing them firsthand: the blues of the Mediterranean sea are so different from the blues of the Li River in China. I also love to watch films, and I get a lot of my visual inspiration from stills.
WE ALL DREAM OF LEAVING A LEGACY. WHAT WOULD YOU LIKE TO BE REMEMBERED FOR?
My love for color, strong work ethic, and honesty.
ANY CURRENT ALBUMS, ARTISTS OR SONGS ON REPEAT?
Baba O’Riley by The Who. Gypsy by Fleetwood Mac. Cactus Tree by Joni Mitchell.
DO YOU HAVE A FAVORITE MOVIE OR TV SHOW?
A television show that really influenced my love for color is Pushing Daisies - it has the most imaginative and over-the-top production design and dramatic lighting based on a lot of film noir. The plot is quite dark: it’s about a pie maker who revives dead victims to solve their murders. Yet the grim nature of the storylines are so starkly contrasted by the flamboyance of the imagery.
Play It as It Lays by Joan Didion.
Anything drenched in lemon juice.
STAR WARS OR STAR TREK?
...Switzerland, I am neutral! Okay, maybe Star Wars. Daisy Ridley is cool.
WHAT IMPORTANT TRUTH DO VERY FEW PEOPLE AGREE WITH YOU ON?
That caffeine makes me crazy! I personally have no tolerance for caffeine. It makes me a bit sad and anxious even in very low dosages, so I avoid it as much as possible. No judgement on people who function purely on caffeine, just doesn’t agree with my brain!