Interviewer: “Tony, talk to me about your background and your experience.”
I really had a yearning for wanting to do fashion because as my photography style evolved, starting at an early age, I learned a lot of technical aspects of photography. I’ve done traditional photography for many years but as I grew and wanted to do more fashion, I felt like I had so much more potential in style. Being able to add a fashion perspective to my pictures and differentiate myself from other photographers was not by the pretty backgrounds of the beach, it was by the style of my photography. I would literally be in a room with basically just one window and I created art with the bride – unique poses and unique lighting helped me to separate myself from the other wedding photographers.
So over the years I kept developing and then I moved to Corona del Mar and got involved with a few of the Orange County fashion magazines.
So I started taking photos for Coast Magazine which was really nice. They’re still around and they publish a monthly magazine that has a great fashion editorial spread. They have been known for doing an artist’s rendition or painting on the covers, but they always had a fashion shoot inside the magazine.
And when I first relocated to Corona del Mar I budgeted in so much to be able to be in this magazine just to try to build my portrait-wedding business and to let people know what I do. I advertised in there for about a year and I talked to the editor of the magazine and I said. “Justine if there ever comes a chance that you could allow me to be in this particular magazine as a fashion photographer, I would welcome the opportunity to do it. About a year later she says, “Hey Tony I’m going to give you your first fashion shoot.” I was scared to death because I’ve shot many weddings, I’ve worked with celebrities , but it’s different when you’re doing a fashion shoot because the expectations are much higher.
So, my first photo shoot that I had to do was at the St. Regis Hotel and we’re shooting an 8-10 page fashion spread in the magazine plus the cover.
I had no editorial fashion experience up to this point, other than my own business, my own style that I’ve developed through all these years. And so she said, “By the way Tony, I want you to be there 8 o’clock. The first shoot’s at 10 o’clock in the morning, and the first shoot that you do is going to be the cover of the magazine.” So I’m thinking, “I’ve never done fashion before and been exposed to this environment at all, my first picture of the day, my first fashion shoot of all, is the cover of the magazine!” which… it’s scary because it sets the tone of the whole two-day shoot. We went there a couple of days in advance to survey the prop a little bit and pick certain spots
So we get out there the first day for the very first shoot which is the cover of the magazine. And I get out there, and the sun is blaring and on the spot, and I knew that the lighting is going to be a disaster. It was a cover for the magazine so I thought, “Oh my God, what am I going to do… what am I going to do?”
And so basically what I do is I call the hotel and asked for this huge black fabric to drape the whole area to block the sun. Once that happened, I was able to control the light and the shoot started coming together.
What I didn’t realize is that when you do a fashion shoot like this, you have this time frame to do the first shot because make-up and hair has to be done and that all takes time. All of this is being done as I arrive so I had plenty of time to think it through a little bit. But the thing I didn’t realize is the second shot is literally done right after the first. So not only do I have to move all my equipment to another location, they kind of waited for me. So I quickly learned that this fast-paced industry and you also have to make everybody happy, the make-up artist has to feel a part of it , the hairdressers have to feel part of it, the editor has to feel a part, the model has to feel a part of it. It’s all a whole process. That shot came out really, really well.
But doing fashion for all these years now for these magazines, and now of course I am the exclusive main photographer for Bask magazine which is a very beautiful high-end magazine here in Orange County.
And through all this time, I’ve been able to build a really nice fashion portfolio and really I think in a lot of ways has given me a vision as to really what it takes to get a high quality picture and what it takes to work with someone in a way that’s not just another wedding picture. And no matter what I’m doing, whether I’m working with a client, or whether I’m watching a moment develop, I’m looking at it from a point-of-view of “What is it going to take for this picture to be a full-page in a magazine?”. And so that translates to me as, “To what would this take for a bride to look at it and say, ‘Oh my God, this is an amazing shot! I want this to be in my book as a full page!’”.
And so by doing the fashion as long as I have, it’s enabled me to have my own unique look and it has allowed me to feel that much more comfortable meeting the bride’s expectations. In the fashion industry the expectations are high from every one involved from the publisher to the model to hair and make-up people.
I’ve seen a lot happen in this industry, and it’s allowed me to be a little more creative, a little more edgy. I think a lot of people and I think most photographers are very careful about staying in a certain box, like photojournalism is popular with all non-pose pictures. Everybody wants to do that because it’s like what they did. Although I am always aware with what’s going on with the photography industry and I’m capable of doing it, I’ve always been one to have my own look. I always want to have another spin on it. “Why are you hiring Tony?”. ‘Well, because Tony’s unique look will make your wedding that much more special.” I am looking at much more of an art point-of-view than it is just from taking the picture and documenting the moment.
So with all the people I’ve worked with, all the magazines I’ve been involved with and all the clients I’ve sat and talked to throughout the years I have been able to build those experiences and develop this unique style that I use today.