If you’re a regular Atlas reader, Blessing Marie shouldn’t be a new name to you. She’s a photographer who’s graced the pages of the magazine itself, as well as the website, for quite a while. It should come as no surprise that we love her work! Crazy thing was though, we hadn’t yet taken the time to interview her. So this changes that! Get to know Blessing, and see her latest editorial, all at once! #winwin
Tell us about yourself! Where did you grow up?
I grew up in Dallas, Texas. In a big, bohemian family. After studying photography in California I moved to the East coast and now live in NYC. I’m in love with all things analog. I just got a new film camera and never leave my apartment without it. I’m also something of a record hoarder and can’t pass up good record shop.
What drew you towards creativity?
From a young age creativity was something my parents and teachers encourage. Whether it was dancing, drawing, baking or photographing. I was always trying something new and learning to create.
Why did you choose to specialise in photography?
Photography has always had a huge impact on my life. From a very early age my dad always had an SLR camera and would take beautiful family pictures. It wasn’t long before I was stealing the camera from him to capture moments with my friends; dance performances; trip photos or family holidays. When I was a little older my sister and I used to tear out our favorite images from magazines and wallpaper our room in them. It was a sea of inspiration.
And what is it about fashion photography that you love above all other mediums of photography?
I’ve always loved fashion but I didn’t originally think I would be a fashion photographer. Throughout the years fashion keeps drawing me in more and more. I love how fashion photography is so telling of the time. You can look back at photographs from any time period and the fashion tells you volumes about what was going on in the world.
Who is your biggest inspiration in photography?
Irving Penn. I’ve always loved his images so much. From his covers of Harper’s Bazaar to his photographs of cigarette butts on the street, his images are iconic. I find it so inspiring that even when commissioned to sell a product, his images are works of art.
And who is your biggest inspiration outside of photography?
Frida Kahlo. The way she pushed herself and the status quo as an artist has been a huge inspiration for me. I had the opportunity to visit her home in Mexico City and seeing her paint brushes, and the bed from where she painted so many portraits was amazing. I sat in her garden and soaked up the light as long as I could.
Tell us about this shoot! Whats the story behind it?
Jessica Soga, the stylist for this story, and I wanted to shoot a fall location story. We were inspired by the rich velvet textures that are so on trend and wanted to contrast them with cozy knits and the changing leaves if fall. From there we brought Eloise Cheung and Lindsey Williams (amazing hairstylist and makeup artist, respectively) onto our team and the rest of the story fell into place.
How much preparation goes into a shoot like this?
A lot! There are countless emails, texts and phone calls about: concept, inspiration, location, crew, clothing, hair, makeup, call times, catering, weather forecasts, I could go on and on. Good pre-production is a huge asset and can really save you, especially on location.
How do you go about casting your models?
There are so many wonderful modelling agencies I have the privilege of working with. When I start a new project I’ll send a mood board to the bookers and tell them a little about the model’s mood I envision for the story. Since what we do is such a collaboration, I like to go over model options with my crew to choose the final girl.
How did you shoot this? Do you have a specific way you go about all your shoots, or is it always different? This was a really fun story to shoot! It was a gorgeous early fall day in the park. I’m not sure how to describe how I shoot but I’d say I go about it pretty much the same way each time. I like to have a vision and a goal for the shoot and then see where that takes us we shoot.
Do you prefer to work in studio or on location?
In the past I would have said I prefer to work in studio. But in the last couple of years I’ve been shooting more and more on location and I’m falling in love with it. There are so many added elements to telling your story on location and I enjoy exploring that side of shooting.
Do you always work with the same team, or do you like to mix it up?
I am so lucky to get to work with some incredible artists. I’ve been working with a lot of the same artists since we were all assistants. But there is something exciting about collaborating with a new artist. Everyone brings something special and unique to a story.
What advice would you give to an aspiring fashion photographer?
Shoot, shoot, shoot. The more you push yourself, explore and practice the more you’ll learn about yourself as an artist. Also, surround yourself with imagery. There are so many incredible artists out there to draw inspiration from.
Where do you hope to be in 5 years time?
I hope to be shooting more advertising campaigns, international print editorials and beauty stories. I want to continue to explore shooting fashion and beauty. I want to have really pushed myself as an artist and as a woman.
Where can our readers keep up to date with you and your work?
My website: blessingmarie.com is where I showcase all my stories. And my Instagram @blessingmarie for a more personal look into my everyday life, travels and behind the scenes imagery.
Photographer: Blessing Marie
Model: Daria Osipova
Stylist: Jessica Soga
Hair Stylist:Eloise Cheung using John Masters Organics
Makeup artist:Lindsey Williams using Becca Cosmetics