Iconic Photographer of the Month: Richard Warren
Richard Warren is an internationally fashion photographer born in Houston, Texas and currently living in New York. At the age of fifteen Richard moved to the Pacific Northwest and earned a degree in Graphic arts from Western Washington University. At twenty-one he moved to New York and began assisting photographers like: Bill King, Helmut Newton, Denis Piel and Robert Mapplethorpe. When he was twenty-six he shot his first editorial for Italian Bazaar. Since then, he has been working for publications like Australian Vogue, Muse Magazine, Zink, Kurv Australia, GQ, Allure, Marie Claire, InStyle, New York Times, Us Cosmo, Fairchild and many others. He also shot campaigns for Cassin Furs, Deltagalli, Berlei Lingerie, Bill Blass Lingerie, Ann Taylor, Ann Klein, Bloomingdales, Donna Karan, Eddie Bauer, Lord & Taylor, Lands End, Macy’s, Nordstrom, Levi, Cover Girl, Neiman Marcus, Coach, Lancôme, Jantzen, Chadwick’s, Talbot’s,etc. Richard Warren agreed to answer a few questions for Iconic Look.
Thank you Richard for taking the time to answer these questions.
First of all, what do you love most about your job?
I love working with a group of young creative people that the fashion industry seems to attract. In New York most of the models are from an assortment of different countries so I enjoy meeting and learning about the different cultures from them.
Where do you get your creative inspiration from?
I get a lot of inspiration from movies. Also things I see everyday that I translate into my head of what could make a good photo. In fashion a lot of what photographers do is simply documentation. A fashion forecast story should really just feature the clothes while the photography plays a secondary role. However these images are only of interest to people who care about fashion. In my opinion a successful photograph should be strong enough to interest people not only in fashion but those who don’t even care about fashion. In this case some type of cinematic approach seems to address the two tasks at hand.
Do you post-process your photos? What software do you use?
In most cases I process and retouch my photos. I use Lightroom and Capture One or Focus for processing depending on which camera I use: Canon 5D 2, Leaf or Hasselblad. Cameras are tools and you use different tools for different jobs.
Do you prefer studio photos or outdoors?
I prefer location because it’s easier to tell a story and to get the viewer involved.
Many photographers believe that the model does 50% in fashion photography. Do you agree?
I would guess that most photographers would say that they are 90% and the model 10% simply because it’s the photographer who brings the vision to the shoot. They are the ones that find a location, decide how to light it, help pick the clothes ( if its an editorial) and more importantly direct the model into the character he/she wants the model to become. However if the model is not recognizable in the fashion industry then all the photographers’ efforts are wasted. So in this case the model would be 90 % and the photographer 10 %.
What fashion model would you like to work with?
I have never photographed Lara Stone, and would like to.
Do you have any fashion photographers that you admire?
Alive: Ruven Alfanador, Deceased: Helmut Newton
Fashion photography is a fast changing business. Do you find it hard to keep up with it?
Yes its hard If you want to always try and be the “flavor of the week”. If you just stay true to your vision then it’s not hard.
Do you think you put a lot of personality in your photos?
Yes. My photos in most cases are personal so there is that element. In the Dollhouse story on my website all those toys were my daughters.
What plays a more important role in fashion photography? Stylistic or technical skills? What does it take to be a good fashion photographer?
Now days you don’t need to be technical at all to be a successful fashion shooter. So I guess style would be more important of the two. I think to be successful the key word is perseverance. Anyone brand new to the scene will not be accepted so you have to believe in yourself and persevere.
As we live in a culture dictated by consumerism, a lot of photographers complain that they have to undermine the artistic perspective of a photo for a more commercial approach. Showing clothes restricts the photography in a way. Does this happen to you?
If it's a commercial shoot then you are being hired to show the clothes. If it’s an editorial then it’s nice to see some of the clothes if you can. Photographers who work in fashion, like fashion so it’s not really a compromise to me.
Fashion photography nowadays is very different from fashion photography in the past. Once it was very elegant and still, now it's more dynamic and approaches different styles and attitudes. Do you think fashion has lost its glamour?
No not at all. The difference now is that there are many different types of fashion shooting. It used to all be glamour but now there are different types of fashion photography for different types of communication. One type of photography that you see a lot is the model in a field with the sun coming into the lens and maybe her hair is not perfect and her clothes are falling off. This communicates rebellion or youth. Breaking away from all the rules by shooting into the sun and not showing the clothes in a glamorous way. This particular type of fashion shooting is perfect for certain types of brands and therefore has its unique way of communicating. Perhaps brands who appeal to a younger audience. Its not right for Prada or The Blonds but might be right for other brands or other “fashion stories” to tell.
Is there a place in the world where you would like to shoot a fashion campaign or an editorial?
I have always wanted to go to Shanghai.
Between New York, Paris and Milan, which city do you think it's the center of fashion and fashion photography?
New York for photography and Paris for fashion.
Do you spend more time on personal projects than in the fashion field?
I spend a lot of time on personal work these days as I am working on a book.
Will you always be a fashion photographer, or are there other things you want to do?
I have many diverse interests which are various hobbies. I will always be a photographer but I keep it fresh by having these other hobbies.
Do you have any advice for aspiring fashion photographers?
Yes. Make sure you have other interests other than photography. Personal vision has to draw from life experiences and these other interests will fuel your personal work. Do what ever you can to make money but always have a personal project going on. You will be remembered by your photographs and your vision and not by how much money you made.
Fashion photographer Richard Warren www.richardwarrenphotos.com