“I refuse to have to deal with the male gaze in my fashion photography any longer.”
One of the first cameras 22-year-old Aspen Cierra Evans purchased on her own was a Nikon D800. Aspen was born on a military base in Honolulu, Hawaii and has moved across numerous states in the United States. She was a freshman in college at Savannah College of Art and Design when she began her official career in photography. The commercial fashion photographer is now based in Atlanta, Georgia. Aspen’s style is very clean and crisp, and she works with simple backgrounds. Her most recent work was featured in the spring issue of Sesi Magazine, a teen magazine dedicated solely to young African American females.
“Fashion photography is not easy to break into, especially for female photographers. It’s crazy that even in an industry saturated by and made mostly for women, men still are the top ranking photographers and get more of the gigs,” Aspen said.
Q&A Interview with Aspen Cierra
Jar: Tell me about how your career in photography got started. When did you first pick up a camera and realize it was something you wanted to do?
Aspen: I’m currently freelancing as a fashion, personal branding, and blog photographer. I first picked up a camera around age 14 when I got one for Christmas. I was always obsessed with photographer Nigel Barker from the earlier seasons of America’s Next Top Model and wanted to be the one in control of creating the beauty in fashion photographs.
Jar: What is some advice you would give to a beginner? Do you have any tips on what type of camera is best to purchase for someone who is just starting?
Aspen: Get an entry level DSLR such as a Nikon D3400 or a Canon T6i to start and get to shooting. The best teacher is experience. I do recommend get some formal education. You don’t have to go to college for it like I did, but go to a workshop, intern under a more experienced photographer, and explore the world around you to figure out what is it you like to shoot.
Jar: Who are some fashion designers and boutiques you have shot for? What is it like doing fashion and beauty photo shoots?
Aspen: My favorite people to shoot for is Sesi Magazine, a teen magazine for black girls, and Orchids & Spice, a online boutique for the black bohemian girl. Shooting fashion has its ups and down. It’s a hassle to plan and coordinate schedules with the hair, makeup artists, wardrobe stylists, models and photo assistants, but when it all comes together it’s magic. I love when the model and I start connecting and creating a flow of great images because at the end of the day all my hard work pays off.
Jar: To me, photography is an art that conveys a certain emotion or moments that are unforgettable. What is your favorite type of photography, and what are some ways you capture the type of emotion you want out of your subject?
Aspen: Of course I am partial to fashion photography because I love all things fashion and how beautiful it can make people feel. I try to capture that emotion in my subjects.
Jar: How do you build a relationship with the subjects you are photographing?
Aspen: I just try to be myself. I’m shy but I’m also a bubbly person so I try to calm their nerves about how they feel they will look in front of the camera and assure them they are in good hands. Every now and then I’ll show them the back of my camera so they can see how their face looks. I try not to do it too much because they then get consumed by seeing how every shot looks and that takes too much time away from the shoot.
Jar: Most models or individuals I have worked with in the past are always shy and nervous, and they tend to tense up in front of the camera. What are some methods you use you get your models to relax?
Aspen: I try to talk with the model when they arrive and ask them about their life and career and what they love about modeling. We then go over the mood board and pick some fun music to play during the shoot. Music really helps loosen them up and make them comfortable.
Aspen on natural photo editing:
Natural photo editing focuses on enhancing versus altering the subject, so focus on making sure the skin tone and lighting looks accurate. Many of the photos I take outside of bloggers require very little editing because the lighting is gorgeous and softens the skin.
Aspen’s Five Tips that Makes a Great Photo:
- Great lighting
- Dynamic composition
- Even exposure
- Clear focus
- Interesting subject matter
Jar: Who are some photographers you are inspired by?
Aspen: I’m inspired by Lara Jade, a British photographer that works in New York City. I’m also inspired by the Girl Gaze Project which is a collective created by photographers, Amanda de Cadenet, Inez van Lamsweerde, Amber Valletta, Lynsey Addario, Sam Taylor-Johnson, Collier Schorr to advance and push for female-identifying photographers. Exquisite Eye makes amazing photography and is around my same age and has worked with Girl Gaze on a campaign for Warby Parker.
Jar: What do you like to do in your spare time besides take photos?
Aspen: I love trying new restaurants. Maybe I’ll start a food blog one day. Concerts are another big fave of mine, as well as shopping. I am a shopholic! I love being able to shop in the privacy of my home in my pajamas.
You can find more of Aspen’s work on aspencierraphotography.com.