Five Strategies to Take Stunning Photos, with Victor Anthony
I had the pleasure of interviewing Victor Anthony. Victor is a Los Angeles based photographer specializing in portraits, fashion editorials, beauty campaigns, designer look-books and high end retouching. With a lifelong fascination with the fashion industry, Victor combines his background as a wardrobe stylist with his photography, creating edgy, moody and high contrast imagery. His work, a mix of clean studio portraiture and fashion/beauty editorials, has been featured in British Vogue, Vanity Fair and Tatler Magazine and has worked with various designers, entertainers and influencers in the entertainment industry. Being entirely self-taught, he uses his knowledge and experience to motivate, inspire and teach others.
Thank you so much for joining us! Can you tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path?
My love for photography started 3 years ago in a very spontaneous manner. After moving from Indianapolis, IN to Los Angeles, CA, to pursue a career in wardrobe styling, I began working for a celebrity image consultant and picked up a camera to take some candid behind-the-scene photos. It wasn’t until I launched my Instagram page highlighting my personal fashion style that I decided to take my photography skills to the next level. I purchased my first professional camera in 2015 and spent countless hours researching lighting and composition techniques, set designs, and photo retouching. Soon after, fans on Instagram really liked my fashion portraits and began asking me to take their pictures.
Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you started your career?
Anyone who’s in the business of photography will tell you that it takes time (most people give themselves 5 years) to build a solid portfolio. Two years after I purchased my first camera, a Los Angeles fashion designer was being featured in British Vogue and Vanity Fair and needed a photographer to shoot her Fall/Winter ’17 collection. After responding to her craigslist ad, we set up the shoot and a couple months later my images were printed in British Vogue, Vanity Fair, and Tatler Magazine for the months of February and March 2018. Prior to this shoot, I hadn’t done that amount of volume nor had I shot in an actual studio.
Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?
The funniest story by far has to be when I had a session with a Canadian actress. I had all my lights, props and subject in place when my lights wouldn’t flash. After troubleshooting the problem, I had to run to CVS and get new batteries just to get back and my lights STILL wouldn’t flash. I opened my wireless trigger, flipped the battery pack over and VOILA! I didn’t need new batteries after all! Word of advice, don’t skip the small steps and double check EVERYTHING.
What do you think makes your company stand out? Can you share a story?
I’m an avid student of photography and lighting which I think shows in my images. I have a high level of attention to detail and care for each session regardless of if it’s a paid shoot or not. I’ve been told on several occasions that clients have chosen to use me because of the quality of my lighting and retouching. With photography becoming more and more accessible, I put a premium on the depth of knowledge for the craft and I study daily.
Which tips would you recommend to your colleagues in your industry to help them to thrive and not “burn out”?
Do work that inspires you or shoot something totally different (in another field or genre) than you typically shoot. I’ve found that most of the time it’s collaborative work that I get most excited about. These are the times where I get to experiment and push my limits.
None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story?
My family and friends have played a big role in helping me get to the point I am now. The best way to get better at anything is to practice that craft daily. Anytime I purchased a new lens or if I wanted to try a new lighting technique, my friends were always there to practice on. But I’d have to give the most credit to my publicist. She’s helped me on several occasions, from organizing shoots to holding up a reflector or two. She has by far been the biggest help and found the opportunity that landed my pictures in prominent magazines.
Are you working on any exciting projects now?
Yes, I’m working several beauty submissions for various magazines. I’m planning a creative shoot with a friend that will take place in a museum with a mummy. I haven’t ironed out the details for that but I’m probably most excited about that shoot!
How have you used your success to bring goodness to the world?
My mother has always said that it’s good to give back. I have seen on several occasions what a quality portrait can do for someone’s confidence so any opportunity I can give that to someone, I try to make it happen. I ask people all of the time, “do you have a portrait of yourself?” I always say portrait instead of picture because it sounds better!
Can you share “5 Things Anyone Can Do To Take Stunning Photos”? Please give an example for each.
1. Know your camera and its features (shoot as much as possible)
It’s not about having the most expensive tools but knowing how to use the tools you have. Many people starting out get so focused on camera gear and having the most expensive stuff. I can admit that I’ve been guilty of this same mindset but had to realize that I didn’t need the most expensive stuff. The guy who’s had a camera for 2 years but only practices every other month has the same amount of experience as the guy who practices every month and has only had his camera for a 1 year. Practice, Practice, Practice!
2. Understanding Light: how to manipulate it and its properties
Shortly after I picked up a camera, I realized that I liked dramatic lighting but didn’t know what it took to achieve the look I wanted. In order to replicate any images you see in the world you have to know how light behaves and how to create hard light vs. soft light. Another aspect to this, that isn’t talked about much, is controlling shadows in your images. The difference between light and shadow is what gives an image contrast so it’s safe to say that understanding how to control your shadows goes hand in hand with knowing how to control light.
3. Learn Composition, Perspective and Camera Angles
Understanding composition is one of the biggest keys to creating pleasing images in my opinion. Of course there are certain best practices that have been universally accepted in the photography community, such as the rule of thirds. But don’t stop at the rule of thirds or any other technique for that matter. Go beyond the rules and try unconventional compositions because you never know where they may lead you. I’ve been on several shoots where I took a few steps to my left or right and it changed the total look of my image. Don’t be afraid to move your feet, lay on the ground and get a little dirty to achieve the best possible image.
4. Go in with a plan and don’t be afraid to stray away from the plan
I’m a major planner by nature and in doing so I tend to have a lot of gear with me for my shoots. Planning is a key component not just for me but for my team if a shoot calls for one. Understanding what the goal of the shoot is and what it will take to achieve that goal is essential to the ensuring quality results. With that said there have been several occasions I have had a certain plan but started shooting and realized what I originally thought wouldn’t work or I ended up only using half of the gear I thought I needed. So plan for success but understand that the road to success may be different than what you thought.
5. Know how to direct/connect with your subject
Developing a rapport with your subject is key to their comfort in front of the camera which will translate to the images you create. I get as much information from my subject as possible and try to get an understanding of their personality prior to shoot. Sometimes this could be hard to achieve depending on the type of shoot. For a lot of my collaborative work, I get to talk to the model/subject beforehand and get a sense of how experienced they are and how much direction they may need. The times that I don’t get to talk to the subject before your shoot, I try to engage with them as much as possible and also watch how they engage with others on my team as well. At times you might not have much rapport built with your subject and you will have to do your best and forget the rest.
How can our readers follow you on social media?
This was very inspiring. Thank you so much for joining us!
Thank you for having me, it was a pleasure!