Imagery is a big part of Fashion, if one is to talk about Fashion there is increasingly an overt reliance on the visual aspect of it all. Fashion Photography is one such discipline which has experienced immense growth in the last few years. And before you get confused , I must clarify that by fashion photography I refer to the ones with actual editorial credentials under their belt not the kids covering events. I have tried my best to pick and interview 3 rising stars (Aleé Hassan, Nadir Firoz Khan and Azeem Sani) on how they started, how much photo editing goes into play and what do they feel about hordes of DSLR totting kids at events.
1 When did you start your career?
Nadir Firoz :I started working in 2007 but started doing Fashion photography together with my wife Maha in late 2011.
Azeem Sani: I started doing portfolios in 2009 and still remember I charged Rs. 2000 only for my first portfolio in college days. Professionally my career started in 2010 and have got nominated for LUX Style Awards twice till now.
Aleé Hassan:I started my career earlier in 2013 shortly after my graduation in Communication Design from School of Art , Design & Architecture Department University of Gujrat.
2 Did you study photography or fashion photography per se? Is education or training necessary?
Nadir Firoz :I did my Bachelors in Communication Design and a minor in Photography from IVS. You do need to be taught the basics whether at school or by a mentor. That being said, a lot of skill, technique and your individual style is pretty much developed on the job and learnt through experience and experimentation. Maha has a background in Fashion Design & Photography as well and we are always bouncing ideas back and forth not only between each other but also with our friends in similar fields. The insight you get from sharing with peers and your team is invaluable!
Azeem Sani: I did a 6 months diploma in basic photography and Fashion lighting from N.C.A besides that I have a BE Civil Engineering from UET .Yes, education is a very important part of your life just as learning a language to communicate, it’s important for becoming a good human being and to learn the ethics of the business world. But to become a professional photographer sometimes it does not requires a degree in Photography etc. ‘it’s all in you’.
Aleé Hassan: Not really, I am a self taught photographer. To some extent i would say yes it’s important to learn technical aspects but you need to have an aesthetic eye.
3 What was your first assignment? Any anecdotes that you remember from that experience?
Nadir Firoz: Our very first fashion assignment (pre forming NFK) was for a multibrand store FAD. It was also the first time Maha & I worked together, which was surprisingly easy.
Azeem Sani: My first assignment was Street Photography in Lahore which included areas like anarkali bazaar and red light area near Badshahi Mosque. I still remember I took a picture of a two years boy looking out from a window of a courtesan’s mansion which I later submitted as my final thesis (“CHOBARA FROM BAZAR-E- HUSAN”).
Aleé Hassan: My degree thesis was entirely a self promotional campaign as an art , beauty & fashion photographer. Well professionally, I was hired for a magazine menswear editorial with the title “Dark Romance”. In that editorial the concept I made was to clone the male model in same scene twice so it was technically challenging but I achieved what I visualized.
4 What is your opinion regarding hordes of DSLR totting kids calling themselves photographers? Can they call themselves fashion photographer if they are covering events, if not what defines that?
Nadir Firoz: Taking photos at events makes you an event photographer not a fashion photographer. People seem to think if you can do one type of photography you can do all which is not always the case ,one needs to have knowledge about the various elements of Fashion Photography in order to be successful at it; studio and outdoor lighting, styling, art direction and set design are just some of the basic elements one needs to have a grasp of. Also it is about selling a product, but also making that product and the model wearing it look beautiful, and inspiring. The image needs to have a wow-factor that makes someone want to go buy that piece of clothing.
Azeem Sani: Photography is not only to take pictures or buying new models of DSLRs. They are just like new faces trying to enter modeling.
Aleé Hassan:Well, technically anyone who captures images with the camera is a photographer. Besides I encourage those “totting kids” to play with DSLR as much as they can so that they can learn from their worst photographs taken.
5 Critics often say that everything is Photoshopped these days, there is no lighting technique, exposure setting, and everything is manipulated on software? Is it really so?
Nadir Firoz: Photoshop is an integral part of fashion photography around the world. Every photographer has a different style of working. We shoot very close to what we hope to achieve in terms of lighting and spend a lot of time on set perfecting the shot. But in terms of color grading, you have to have an idea of what you want to do in post and thus set up your lighting accordingly to be able to execute it to perfection.
Azeem Sani: I completely disagree, as the final image consists of everything which includes make-up, styling, vision, lighting techniques, appropriate cameras, models and then Photoshop. Photoshop only refines images it doesn’t create them.
Aleé Hassan: Well photography is all about light. Techniques , exposure setting have their own significance which cannot be denied. But in this digital age there are digital tools to address different requirements for retouch & print quality.
6 How has the fashion photography market landscape changed over time? Any structural changes that you have experienced?
Nadir Firoz: We’ve been in the industry for the last 3 years and have seen quite a change in that small period. People are a lot more aware of fashion and trends thanks to Instagram, Pinterest, Twitter etc. This exposure has really improved the quality of work, as inspiration is just a fingertip away. There is a lot more experimentation now, which is really fun to see not only in Photography but in Fashion Videos as well. The clients are also more attuned to intentional trends, which has made for some really interesting collections for us to work with.
Azeem Sani: Business structure has changed due to arrival of a lot of new entries, similarly giving more options to cheaper clients. But I would rather say ‘quality is still in few hands’.
Aleé Hassan:If we talk about Pakistan fashion photography market there is huge transformation going on by style & genres. We have different kind of fashion photographers in market who are more commercial fashion photographers & few fashion photographers who are eccentric but artistically subtle.
7 Given the unregulated industry dynamics of fashion and the mushroom growth of DSLR camera owners, do you think Fashion photography is a viable career choice nowadays?
Nadir Firoz: Fashion photography is surely a viable career option now thanks to our booming textile and media industry; there is plenty of work out their for someone with talent and the necessary skill set. New photographers need to focus on honing their techniques first though before getting into the publicity end of their work and just jumping into taking on shoots with clients. It’s not as simple as just knowing how to use a camera. Practice makes perfect, and the more you shoot the better your work is going to get.
Azeem Sani: It’s a 24/7 job with no personal life and with rapidly changing vision, and aesthetics. As it continually requires a lot of innovative thinking.
Aleé Hassan: The way I see it ,the only viable career in this world is the one that you love .So if you love what you do then your work will defiantly stand out in the crowd and speak for itself. Same goes for fashion photography.
I would take this opportunity to thank Nadir Firoz, Azeem Sani and Aleé Hassan for their patience and ultimately for paying heed to my requests. I hope that through my interview series I managed to get some insights out or atleast my readers got to know who these young energetic photographers are and what they think.
Let me know who would you want to be interviewed next and what do you wanna ask them in the comments section below. I will try to make it happen!