#RiseToTheTop Spotlight — Stylist, Esther Lee

Interview By Ambar Januel & Photos by CJ Johnson

“Follow your inspirations but don’t forget your own flare.” — Esther Lee

Innovative Stylist, Esther Lee has a versatile touch with her work. Her stylized works showcases her diversity of interests: fashion, food, weddings, landscape, and photography. Esther’s aesthetic precision has led to work opportunities with popular brands like Made Well and Lou & Gray. She has also been featured on Bloguettes’ “5 Instagram Accounts You Should Be Following” and Urban Outfitters’ “Tumblr Tuesday”.

During our photoshoot with Esther it was clear that she notices small details and inherently expresses herself as an artist. Our interview with her further explains why she is a perfect representative for our #RiseToTheTop campaign.

As a stylist, what are they key elements you pick up on when looking at the products you have to arrange?

There isn’t any single element that I focus on when it comes to styling. I need to look at the big picture. Colors, shapes, textures and patterns have to be considered all together, not individually.

Instagram: @eslee

When styling fashion shoots, what are your techniques for working with different models and pairing them without it being too purposefully arranged?

Sometimes it takes the most effort to make someone look effortless. As in other photos without models, all elements need to be thought out. Everyone has different body types that fit different type of clothing so sometimes it’s just a matter of trial and error.

What do you love most about styling food? And why does that sound so awesome?

The thing I love the most about styling food is that I usually get to eat it afterwards. The second thing I love the most is the challenge of making seemingly ordinary foods look irresistable. There’s something about a good food photo that draws you in. It somehow messes with your brain to make you think that it’s going to be tasty. They say that half the taste in food is the presentation. It’s an amazing feeling for a photographer when someone is able to say “That looks delicious” about your photo without even having tasted it.

What is the strangest or most unique product/object you have ever had to style?

I had to shoot a creative themed breakfast scene for the release of The Spongebob Movie. I ended up making the characters out of eggs, SPAM, and cereal with a little spilled milk in the background.

Splore Photoshoot

You’re a Stylist and a Photographer. Would you say that a Photographer is naturally a Stylist without realizing it?

Esther: That depends on what type of photography I’m doing. As a stylist, I need to arrange and configure whatever it is that I’m trying to take a picture of to make it look interesting. But if I’m taking a photo of a beautiful landscape somewhere far off into the woods then there’s no way I can take credit for styling a scene like that.

What is your curation process for choosing images after a shoot?

Esther: I like to have certain themes to use as guidelines for each project, just to make sure I’m not all over the place. Whether it’s color, placement, framing, or content, I like having consistency within the same group of photos. Also, I choose whatever looks pretty!

How do you go about setting a scene?

Esther: It really depends on what I’m shooting. During events, I love capturing raw emotions from people so I don’t set anything up. I just wait until a perfect moment comes by and then fire away. When I’m actually styling a photograph I like to keep things natural, especially with food. I love spilling things on the table and keeping things as “real” as possible.

What has been your favorite project to date?

Esther: I got to produce my own styled wedding shoot with a fairy tale theme. We had teacups hanging from trees and an Alice In Wonderland style dress for the bride. But best of all, we had donkeys on set. Donkeys. I wanted to take one home with me but my husband said no…

What do you do in your down time?

Esther: My husband and I love watching movies and play music together. I also love discovering new places to eat. It’s always those hidden, forgettable places that have the most unforgettable foods.

Instagram: @eslee

Do you have a favorite location to shoot?

Esther: Angeles Crest National Park has always had a special place in my heart. Plus, it doesn’t hurt that it’s only ten minutes away from my house.

What are your tips for putting together a well composed photo?

Esther: Follow your inspirations but don’t forget your own flare. There are so many talented photographers out there that you can gain ideas from and it’s a great way to build a foundation for your photos but make sure you keep your individuality in the photo. Just like baking a cake, everyone needs to use flour, sugar and water but once the cake is baked it’s your job to spread the icing the way you want to.

Where has been your favorite place you’ve travelled for work?

Esther: I went to Aspen and Vail, CO to take some nature photos. Since we went during the fall I got to see some colors you would never be able to find in Los Angeles. It looked like the entire mountain was on fire with yellows, reds, and oranges. I can’t wait to go back.

What’s a typical day look like for you?

Esther: There’s no such thing as a typical day for me. That’s probably why the question was even phrased in parentheses.

How do you start your mornings?

Esther: By hitting the snooze button as many times as possible. I love my sleep.

If you were going to be stranded on an island, what are three objects you’d bring with you?

Esther: I would bring my husband, a lighter, and a knife. Then I would tell my husband to go hunt for food, build a fire and make me some dinner.

Discover more about Esther and find her work on Splore: @eslee. You can also follow Esther on Instagram. Find out more about her at http://www.esleevs.com. This special guest post was conducted by the award-winning team, J+J co-founders and award-winning creatives (Ambar Januel & CJ Johnson). Find out more about J+J at www.janueljohnson.com and follow them on Instagram and Twitter.

Would you like to be featured on Splore? Send us a message or leave a comment below. Download the Splore app now and join our hashtag movement, #RiseToTheTop.