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News & Insight

Celebrity Turned Photographer | Their Success Makes Total Sense

By Brittany Smith on January 29th 2017

In the latest round of change up over at Yves Saint Laurent, former designer Hedi Slimane has left the label to pursue the career of full time photographer. He left the label in spring of 2016 and is shooting a portrait series for V Magazine, entitled “Hedi Slimane’s New York Diary”, which pays homage to New York City’s musicians, writers, and artists alike who are living their dream in the city.

Slimane is not the first celebrity in the world of fashion to make the switch. Karl Lagerfeld steps behind the camera for his own brand as well as numerous fashion campaigns and for his famous cat, Choupette, who grosses more in one shoot than a lot of photographers do all year. Ellen Von Unwerth was a very prominent model prior to becoming one of the most sought after fashion photographers, and Helena Christensen, one of my favorite models, has changed her position to behind the camera as well as of late.

[RELATED: On Becoming A Fashion Photographer: Dress the part to be taken seriously.]

SAINT LAURENT WINTER 14 #HediSlimane #SaintLaurent

A photo posted by @hedislimaneworld on

So what’s the deal? Are they any good and how in the hell did they make their photography career happen so quickly? It seems as if celebrities can turn their photography into a famous career overnight, and that is, in a way, because they can.

One of the most difficult things to do is break into the fashion industry and that is done by networking, which they have done. Celebrities have already met everyone necessary to jumpstart a career during their previous tenure. As frustrating as it may be, they’ve already done the leg work to make it happen. The expansive world of fashion really is equivalent to a close knit small town and knowing the right people can make things happen instantly.

HAPPY NEW YEAR from Karl and Choupette. ? #KARLLAGERFELD

A photo posted by KARL LAGERFELD (@karllagerfeld) on

As far as the question about whether or not they are any good, the answer is yes. In fact, they are quite good. Former models and fashion designers seemingly have a unique perspective and know immediately what they are looking for having been on the other side of things. Many of them also dabble in photography on the side and have cross-trained to help them with their own careers. It is similar to having home field advantage on game day.

A lot can be learned from their success stories. The business side of things and networking will almost always get you farther than your skills alone. It really is about who you know that will open that door and then what you know will secure future work.

Ethereal, poetic @natasupernova @fatmagazine

A photo posted by Helena (@helenachristensen) on

Source: New York Times

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Brittany is a fashion and beauty photographer who works between NYC, Montana and LA. She photographs the way she has always wanted to feel and believes in the power of raw simplicity. When not behind a camera she can usually be found at a local coffeeshop, teaching fitness classes at the YMCA, or baking something fabulous in the kitchen.
Instagram: @brittanysmithphoto

Q&A Discussions

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  1. Giovanni Mocchetti

    Well Hedi Slimane has always been a photographer before so he is just focusing even more on it instead of doing both creative direction and photography. And regarding his images, in my personal opinion they are really good.

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    • Kishore Sawh

      Yeah he’s just gone full blown. And I’ll agree, he is very good. I personally see nothing wrong or unfair or complain-warranting about celebrities gaining a quick foot in the industry, because they really don’t if they’re not good, and their skill set and insider knowledge is valuable.

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    • Brittany Smith

      I absolutely agree. I think a lot of the celebrities are quite good at what they do. 

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