As a child Garrin Evan excelled in the arts, playing drums and guitar, and winning drawing contests. This innate talent drove him towards jobs where creativity mattered. An authentic member of Generation X, Evan worked for Atlantic Records as a talent scout and record store (remember those?) promoter in the 1990’s. He promoted oft forgotten musicians such as Tori Amos and Collective Soul.
The combination of his natural creativity and experience at using creativity to drive sales serves Evan well in his vocation as fashion photographer for clothing designers and brands. Atlantic Records taught him the importance of brand positioning, which informs his selection of location, models, and scenes.
Evan likens his role to that of a small movie director, who is ultimately responsible for the success of the movie, or in his case, the advertisement. He summarizes that “An outstanding photographer constantly studies the creative aspect but also runs a tight ship in business.”
Miami Fashion Network had the pleasure to discuss both the creative and business aspects of fashion photography with Garrin.
Describe your view of the interplay of fashion design and photography.
Fashion designers have a unique vision. They know what inspires them to create new products and designs, and how those creations should be positioned in the minds of their target audience. It is up to the photographer to execute a designer’s vision — to bring the designer’s product to life and ultimately create a “need” for it as opposed to just a “want.”
Talk about the importance of details in a fashion shoot.
Well, the details begin with permitting and end at editing. Examples of key details include mundane business issues such as location permitting, having insurance, sending a call sheet to talent, and food. Creative details include casting models that match the brand position of my client, creating Mood Boards to guide the creative juices, and choosing key players such as hair, makeup, and fashion stylists.
How is your role similar to that of a movie director?
In any given shoot, there is much to think about and a lot of problem-solving happening. If it’s an editorial, you have to think about where the publication is going to place the copy. Are you staying true to the concept? Are you doing an effective job of telling the story? For fashion advertising, are you leading the viewer’s eyes to the product you are selling? Are the styling, hair, makeup, model, lighting and location all working in unison to position the brand the way the designer intended?
How do you merge your creativity with your designer client’s need for marketing?
The shoot aesthetic is driven by the brand. The first question I ask is “What is their brand positioning?”
Describe your process for model selection.
Well the end result of a shoot is part photographer and part models. I need models that know how to move and represent the look and feel of the brand.
How is fashion photography similar to art?
Fashion photography really allows me to get creative. Fashion offers a lot of freedom. Taking an idea that once existed solely in your head (or your client’s head), and sharing it with the world, that is a great feeling.
Collaborating with other artists is an aspect that appeals to me. As an artist, I’m driven by sharing ideas with other artists and feeding each other’s creative energy. Directing, producing and collaborating with a team to actualize the visions of designers is a process I’m very passionate about.
Describe your favorite type of shoot.
Recently, I photographed a Wilhelmina model at Crandon Park Beach in Key Biscayne, and love to shoot swimwear at scenic beach locales. The images were picked up by Fort Lauderdale Magazine and will be featured in their June issue.
One time, for a portfolio shoot, I hiked over a mile with my model to get to an Atlanta nature spot called Sope Creek. It’s a historic civil war-era location with ruins — and the most beautiful whitewater, towering trees and crisp air, with enormous rocks throughout. Portfolio shoots are key…these are how photographers demonstrate their uniqueness.
What is the most challenging part of building a business as a fashion photographer?
The first question many photographers get after taking a great photo is, “What kind of camera do you have?” But truly amazing photography is never about the gear.
I study this art form day and night. I am constantly flipping through photography books or fashion magazines, visiting art museums, and thinking about how to take my work to the next level. The learning process never ends — nor would I want it to!
Discuss marketing your business.
I’ve learned that what you post on your website is the work you continue to get. So I strategically produce portfolios and place select images on my site. I receive leads from search engine marketing and also, the old fashioned way of placing calls to the model agencies. It’s important to develop relationships with the agencies and designers.
Fashion shows: describe how you approach these.
When I prepare for a fashion show, I like to research the designers beforehand so that I’m better informed about their clothing lines. Fashion shows are incredibly fast-paced and I always make sure that I have the gear I need to shoot in low-light conditions while freezing motion.
What’s the typical mistake a designer makes with a fashion show?
Lighting problems! Often the runway is too dimly lit. Ultimately photography is all about light. You can only compensate so much for low lights and darkness. So new designers should get advice about lighting and be willing to pay for it.
How do fashion shows impact a new designer’s chance of success?
First of all, the designer must see the show as an investment in the business. It’s a great way to put yourself and product out there.
I think that any time designers make themselves vulnerable — by putting their creative ideas out there for the world to see, it puts them one step closer toward making the dream a reality. You don’t move product by staying in your house and keeping it to yourself. You generate buzz by seizing each and every opportunity to introduce your designs to the world.
Besides getting the lighting correct, I would suggest that new designers visit and watch a major show like Delores Cortes in NYC to study how it’s done. Don’t be afraid to talk to photographers at these shows…they’ve been to hundreds.