Leveraging Accessible Gear to Establish A Career in Fashion Photography: Conversation with Joseph Chen

In the fast-paced world of fashion photography, where innovation often equates to cutting-edge gear, seasoned New York photographer Joseph Chen takes a contemplative approach. In an exclusive interview, Joseph delves into the age-old debate: are remarkable images born from expensive equipment or a keen eye? Our discussion touches on the creative use of budget-friendly equipment, the potential impact of pre-owned gear on one’s career, and storytelling’s vital role in fashion photography.

Crafting Narratives Through Lens and Connection

The Actress for ELLE by Joseph Chen

Joseph’s journey into the world of photography is fueled by a desire to tell stories. “Photography, to me, is a medium to convey a narrative,” Joseph explains. He emphasizes the essence of connecting with subjects, capturing a moment that resonates emotionally. The misconception that elaborate setups demand high-end equipment is challenged by Joseph’s guidance for embracing budget-friendly gear during the initial stages of one’s career.

“I suggest starting with used cameras and lenses. Instead of investing in the most expensive brand-new equipment, allocate that budget towards essential elements like booking a location, travel, or other freelance artists who are more experienced than you such as models, hair and makeup, and stylists,” Joseph advises.

“Often when starting, some of the more experienced artists may be hesitant to work with you but having a little budget helps”.

The Art of Storytelling in Fashion

Beauty Editorial for ELLE by Joseph Chen

With a focus on narrative-driven photography, Joseph emphasizes the importance of storytelling that is true to the artist. With his fascination in the fantasy of perfect beauty, he approaches each session with a meticulous plan to ensure a deep understanding of the subject’s story before the shoot. Connecting with subjects, whether capturing an elaborate cinematic scene or a simple portrait, is a vital step in his creative process, and he stands strictly by it.

Joseph also acknowledges the challenge of storytelling in the era of fast-paced social media, where daily content creation demands efficiency. Joseph anticipates a transition toward motion-based storytelling as a response to this challenge.

He highlights the shift toward implementing short-form video as a medium in fashion photography to give more flexibility to telling a story through motion.

How Conscious Consumption Shapes Photographers

Campaign for Global Denim by Joseph Chen

As the fashion industry grapples with sustainability concerns, Joseph sheds light on the impact of circularity and conscious consumption in photography. From a photographer’s perspective, circularity impacts their work differently depending on the stages in their careers. From sourcing second-hand gear as a more accessible alternative to high-end options to conscious ways of repurposing overstock, yet essential accessories like cables, batteries, and chargers, sources like KEH accessibly support the creative supply chain by keeping great gear and tools in circulation.

Navigating Trends and The Future of Fashion Photography

Campaign for WÀNGDA by Joseph Chen

Discussing trends in fashion photography, Joseph observes a shift towards simplicity in recent years. While acknowledging the cyclical nature of trends, he encourages photographers to stay true to their vision rather than follow fleeting industry fads.

“The recent trend leans toward basic photography. Natural light, shot in picturesque locations with meticulous styling, is prevalent. However, staying true to one’s creative process is essential,” Joseph emphasizes. “The work of artists like Henry Rosseau, whose paintings were initially undervalued, emphasizes the significance of authenticity.”

A Message to Aspiring Fashion Photographers

Editorial for LOfficiel by Joseph Chen

Joseph offers valuable advice to emerging photographers, encouraging them to focus on connection rather than expensive equipment. “It’s not about the camera; it’s about the point of view. Starting with used cameras and lenses allows more room for creativity and investment in the overall vision,” he advises.

Where to Find Joseph Chen’s Work

Joseph Chen’s work can be explored on his website and through Instagram. With an eye for storytelling and a commitment to authenticity, Joseph continues to make his mark in the dynamic world of fashion photography.

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