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Following the impossible dream

Update: 30 Days / 30 Frames is now out! See it here.

In 1911, exactly a century ago, American photographer Edward Steichen was “dared” by Lucien Vogel, the publisher of Jardin des Modes and La Gazetta du Bon Ton, to promote fashion as a fine art by the use of photography.* This shoot is now widely considered as the first ever modern fashion photography shoot. Since then fashion photography has been represented and developed further by iconic artists such as Cecil Beaton, Irving Penn, Richard Avedon, Helmut Newton, and many more.

A few years ago, fashion photography was synonymous with names such as Patrick Demarchelier, Steven Meisel, and Peter Lindbergh. However, this is surely about to change. With the evolution of new media, the bars have been lowered and we have seen a remarkable increase in aspiring artists. Everyone can publish their work before an international audience now by posting an image on Facebook or Flickr. Some might say ubiquity isn’t a good thing, pointing out that these days almost everyone can call themselves a “photographer”, let alone a fashion photographer. I beg to differ. If only you learn to filter the good from the bad, you will see that the evolution of new media has more than anything enabled unaccomplished artists to explore their creativity at a much faster pace, while at the same time making the process much cheaper and more accessible than what it used to be. The availability has made it easier for the artists to discover and nurture their passions and abilities. Also, the availability of good, affordable cameras as well as the internet, has handed us many talented artists that it is unlikely we would have discovered only ten years ago.

It has lead to a boom, and when speaking with teachers at respected fashion schools in London they say the change has been remarkable.

“In the 90s everyone wanted to be designers. Now everyone wants to be fashion photographers.”

The industry might get flooded, but a flood of talent can hardly be considered a negative thing. Unless you’re a poor, hardworking artist, trying to stand out in the masses, from an artist’s perspective, this overflow means more competition and less commissioned work. At the moment it is what we call the client’s market.

So what is one young artist with a dream of making a living in the industry to do? Is a career in fashion photography an impossible dream? No. Not if you ask any of the 400 or so amazing artisans we’ve promoted on Ben Trovato since our launch in 2009. The courage they possess is truly admirable.

Ben Trovato was founded to help photographers get discovered, to give them a miniature kick start of what will hopefully become a long and successful career. But in the end you are, and will always be, on your own with a camera in hand and you’ll have to trust your talent, skills, and determination to do it for you. You have to stay true to your dream.

Of the millions of creatives out there considering themselves fashion photographers, I reckon New York City has the highest percentage of them. I read somewhere that NYC was the home of about 70 000 fashion photographers. That number might be exaggerated, but for a young photographer trying to make it in the industry in NYC, the number seems way too low.

Bryant Eslava, a 19-year-old photographer from Orange County, CA, has the talent, the skills, and the determination. But most important of all, Bryant is staying true to his dream. This fall he made the move to fashion mecca, NYC, to follow it.

Ben Trovato will now follow the aspiring talent for 30 days as he acquires new connections, shoots his first stories in his new home city and all the highs and lows that come with it. In a feature titled 30 days / 30 frames, we will post one picture everyday from the most significant moments for Bryant that day, accompanied with a short text where Bryant describes his activities.

You are about to get an insight into how it can be starting from scratch as a fashion photographer in the city with the hardest competition in the world. Coming this week: 30 days / 30 frames with Bryant Eslava.

Photo by Bryant Eslava