We’re pretty sure that you’ve heard of Lindsay Adler. If you haven’t, you’re about to be not only incredibly inspired, but also really want to follow Lindsay on all her platforms. She’s an incredible fashion photographer, entrapreuneur, author, and educator. We’re thrilled she took some time out of her day to answer some questions with us! So here’s your chance to get to know Lindsay Adler that little bit better.
Please tell us about yourself. Where did you grow up?
I’m a fashion and portrait photography based in New York City, with my own studio in Chelsea. I’ve been a professional photographer for more than half of my life now and began my career in my hometown in upstate NY (Apalachin/Owego, NY). I certainly started in a small town that was far from any fashion capital or fashion inspiration, yet filled with other visual stimuli in the natural landscapes.
I consider myself a good mix of left brain and right brain, constantly be driven by both artistic inspiration paired with technical inquisitiveness.
When did photography first become of interest to you?
I first picked up a camera around age 12 as a way to spend time with the women in my family. My mother and grandmother both had a passion for photography, and we would wander around the family farm together taking pictures of nature— trees, mushrooms, pine cones and more. I enjoyed time bonding with them and enjoying the nature where I grew up.
I published my first photograph in a calendar at age 13. From that age I pretty much knew that photography would be a central part of my life and by the time I was 15 I started my business. At the time I generally photographed families and high school seniors, while eventually I branched out to wedding and many other subjects. I enjoyed portraiture, but had not yet discovered the elements of fashion that would really make my work sing.
What drew you towards fashion photography in particular?
In college I took a class where we studied the masters of fashion photography – Watson, Penn, Avedon and countless others. Upon seeing their work, I feel deeply in love with the art of fashion photography. I loved how all elements of the image came together so brilliantly to make elegant, timeless and engaging images. Hair, makeup, wardrobe, posing, light, styling, location, concept— all were important elements in making an image that could stand the test of time. It wasn’t particular the ‘fashion’ that drove me toward fashion photography, but instead the idea of using the body and clothing as a canvas for creative expression.
Did you study photography in a school, or are you self taught?
I started my formal photography business at the age of 15, and from their dove right in to finding ways to learn about photography. I took workshops, experimented, read books, and more. By the time I went to college, I already had years of experience running a portrait business.
I attended Syracuse University for college studying Business, Political Science and Visual & Interactive Communications (photography). What I loved about my college experience was my ability to experiment in a safe environment— I would test out new techniques, concepts, or tools in a learning environment where a client shoot wasn’t on the line. I experimented with every type of photography — photojournalism, portrait, product, sports and more until I found where my true passions existed.
Where do you draw your inspiration from?
I draw inspiration from many different sources… whether other photographers, movies, paintings, a piece of clothing, a color, etc. I think the key to my inspiration is not to get stuck only looking in one place — if I look at one artist too long then I want to emulate them instead of putting my own creative spin on things. I find most often that I start with a single element for inspiration— a color or a dress, and then I develop my concept starting with that single element.
You’re incredibly talented when it comes to lighting! Where did you learn to control light so well?
Truly my understanding of lighting has come from years and years and years of practice, trial and error, and self assignments. There are endless places to learn basic lighting— school, hands-on workshops, books, online tutorials and more. My true mastery of lighting and control of light really occurred in the last 5-7 years.
The fashion photography business is extremely fast paced. How do you keep up?
One of the most important things I live by is to work hard to make money to outsource things that are not my specialty. For awhile when I started to make more money, I didn’t keep ANY of it. I reinvested it into my business my hiring people (freelance or employees) to help take away workload that was distracting me from the core of my specialty — image making and client relationships. I outsourced book keeping, invoicing, a lot of retouching, handling my website, and much more. The more time I could free up to focus on the most important elements of what makes me ‘unique’, the better. Now I have worked to the point of two full-time employees that help me handle many of my more daunting tasks and to outsource the rest.
You’ve written four books, and you’re well known as a photography educator! What draws you to teaching?
This February I will have published my 5th book, this time on posing. I love teaching and sharing my passion for a couple of reasons. First of all, when I teach my techniques I find that it makes me a better photographer. It forces me to break down each step of my process for a deeper understanding. I’m better at lighting, posing and concept development due to teaching and sharing. Next, I love to teach because I love to share my passion for my craft. I love the ability to help others pursue this same passion and I aim to help them do so more easily. This is TRULY rewarding.
What is your favourite image that you’ve ever taken?
I always find this question difficult because I have different definitions of my ‘favorite’ image. In fact, what I consider my favorite image is not even in my portfolio anymore. The reason it is my favorite is because it started the tone for really developing my personal style. The image is a photo I took for a class in college of a girl where red spiral glasses with white skin and red lips. The image is not the best I’ve ever taken, but it was the first that really felt like me and the style I would develop.
What would you say was the pivotal moment for you in your career so far?
I don’t feel I’ve had a pivotal moment or big break in my career. Everything really has been step by step. Step by step I built a stronger team and portfolio. Step by step I built my brand and relationships with other brands. Step by step I’ve made more money, opened more opportunities, and created a more stable business. There isn’t any one turning point or opportunity that really changed the path of all that was to come after it. What does that mean? Just hard work and lots of little steps after a long time often does the trick!
What advice would you give to aspiring fashion photographers?
Build your creative team and leverage their network. Your creative team of hair, makeup, wardrobe and more help you to elevate the standard of your work. They are your teammates the the game/race of fashion photography. In addition to helping you improve your work, or improve together, they also help expand your network. They meet people and come across opportunities that help you grow your business. My team is the reason I’ve gotten many of my biggest opportunities, best connections and biggest publications.
Where do you see yourself in 5 years time?
I consider myself not just a photographer but an “image maker”. In 5 years time I see myself focusing a bit more on the image making through creating multimedia projects for clients including cinemagraphs. I will certainly still be teaching and creating and traveling the world— all of the things I am lucky enough to do today.
Where can our readers keep up with you and your work?
If you want to keep up with my work, my portfolio is lindsayadlerphotography.com. If you are interested in seeing what I am up to and constantly creating, follow me on instagram.com/lindsayadler_