We at Beautiful Savage Magazine have been in love with Lindsay Adler ever since she shot an editorial entitled “The Woodsman” with her beau, photographer Jeff Rojas, for our Fall 2013 issue: “The Man Issue.”
Adler, who first picked up a camera in her early teens, became a professional photographer at age 15, and now lives in New York City where she works full-time as a fashion photographer. She’s been published in Noise, Bullett Magazine, Essence, Zink Magazine, and Rangefinder, to name a few. Each year she travels the world, teaching essential skills to thousands of young and aspiring fashion photographers.
To connect with Lindsay Adler head over to her official website http://www.lindsayadlerphotography.com/
So, before we begin, you’ve been a photographer since you were a teen, and you’ve never held a “real job.” Is that correct?
I started my business when I was 15, and I’ve pretty much been a professional photographer since day one! I never had a ‘real job’ or a boss. It’s a lot of responsibility, but it’s also endlessly liberating. I’ve spent nearly half of my life building my brand, career, and team to help me succeed in this challenging field. I was extremely lucky as a child to have supportive parents who urged me to follow my passions. They strongly believed that I could make a career and be successful at whatever I was passionate about, and I cannot emphasize enough the importance of their support.
When did you first start taking pictures?
I started photographing as a way to spend time with the women in my family. My mother, grandmother, and aunt were all hobbyist photographers. In fact, apparently it runs in my blood! My grandmother remembers her father working in a dark room when she was a child, and so it has continued through several generations!
When I was about 12 I first picked up a film camera, and began shooting my environment. The next year, I took some images on a family vacation that would later be published in a magazine and calendar. Receiving recognition (and money!) for my images at that age really planted the seed.
And what happened then?
I devoured as much information as I could about photography (books, workshops, videos, and more). People asked me to take their portraits, so, when I was 15 years-old, my mother helped me set up my first official business. I’ve been a professional photographer ever since. I started with portraits, weddings, and while studying at Syracuse University I discovered my love of fashion photography. I built a portfolio and reached out to other creatives to build a team. There was no “big break,” but I’ve slowly built a career by surrounding myself with talented and passionate people.
I have now been in New York City for just over 5 years. My studio is in Chelsea.
Okay, so… This series “Ruby Dwell.” Can you tell us about it?
Since the editorial concept was already surreal in nature, I decided use some unique lighting tricks. First, because everything is red on red (and I wanted to the model’s skin to pop from the scene), I used stark and bright light to make her really stand out from the environment. After achieving that contrast, I also wanted her to melt into the frame. For that, I used long exposures and a little camera shake. During production, I was down on the floor, shaking and moving my camera furiously as I shot!
Did the concept come first? How was that process? You just said, I went EVERYTHING to be extremely red, I’m assuming…
When I built the mood boards I titled the piece “Ruby Dwell.” In the concept, I envisioned a stunning creature who dwelled solely in a world made up of different variation of red. She wore all red clothing, makeup, existing in a world of red–nearly a red overdose. When I build mood boards, I’m still very flexible during final execution. That direction was intended to help prepare hair, makeup, wardrobe, and communicate my overall vision. Yet on the day of, the magic happened when I explored the lighting and photographic techniques.
The shoot was fast: about 2.5 hours, as this was the only time we were permitted in the space. Hair and makeup took place at my hotel before hand. During a pre-scout, I had discovered the space and already knew the compositions that I’d incorporate into the shoot. I remember the moment the elevator doors opened, and the red glow from the hallways flooded the space.
How long was production and post?
Post production for this shoot was nearly non-existent. On a few shots I cleaned up a small blemish or two, and in a few shots I changed the garment to a red to match the scene (both quite easy).
The shoot is beautiful. Considering your initial concept, is it a success, considering your initial concept? Does it differ at all?
I’m thrilled with the final results. Not only did I get to reward myself (by shooting on my birthday), but it was a perfect addition to my “Red” project. I’m really exploring a world, my world, where red is everywhere–enveloping our environment.
Do you ever feel a bit vulnerable sharing personal work with so many people?
As an artist, it is always a bit frightening to share your work with others, yet it can be equally rewarding. So many of us in the age of social media are trained to value our worth by numbers, likes and comments, so when the feedback is negative or lacking, we feel artistically drained. It is definitely an exercise in emotional control and self-worth to understand that that negative feedback does not diminish the value of personal work. Personal work is about self-expression and sharing your vision. When you really open up though and the responsive is positive, I cannot help to feel honored and thrilled that others can enjoy the work that I envisioned and created.
Lastly, for the last several years, you’ve taught young photographers how to shoot fashion. When is your next workshop?
This spring I will be traveling around the US to 33 different cities, teaching a series called “Body Beautiful.” In this workshop I will show photographers how to flatter the human form and express their creative vision whether in fashion, boudoir, or fine art nude photography. I help decode the secrets of photographing the body! You can find out more at http://bodybeautiful.mzed.com/.
“RUBY DWELL” all images courtesy of photographer | INTERVIEW: Lindsay Adler (2014)