One of the biggest components of fashion and style is how to tell a story. One thing that fascinates me about working in this industry is how a group of people translate what was simply an idea into a story that entices its would-be consumers.
In this regard, designers and brands often tap photographers as their allies in showing off their ideas and communicating this with their market, whether it is on a billboard or a magazine spread. A good fashion photographer has a way of capturing the zeitgeist of our culture and creating a stamp that is remarkably his or hers—much like how the provocative style of Helmut Newton created that signature ‘Le Smoking’ for Yves Saint Laurent or Richard Avedon’s knack at capturing emotions and sensualities led to the famed Calvin Klein campaigns of years past. More than a commodity, fashion, through the lens of a photographer could become a significant mirror of culture.
In this issue of Rank, I talk to a celebrity and fashion photographer, Advan Ramirez, to pick his brains on his journey as a fashion photographer and how this field sustains him—in every essence of the word.
Ramirez responds with a laugh when asked how he started in photography. “Di ko talaga alam,” he says with a chuckle. “All I know is that I grew to love taking images. It was simply a fascination that grew into a passion that gives me life.”
Advan Ramirez and his venture into the world of fashion and the arts has been marked by an evolution of styles. His strides in photography have significantly grown from sophisticated glamour to edgy portraiture.
“I started out doing a lot of video shooting, most commonly for weddings. But then a friend opened the doors to beauty photography for me and this quickly linked me into fashion photography. I realized, photography is a big world and it takes a lot of passion to learn its ropes.”
By observing models and celebrities under his lens, he has formed an unspoken dialogue with his subjects that bring out characters not necessarily known to them—as evidences by his work with A-listers like Maine Mendoza, Alden Richards, Derek Ramsey, Liza Soberano, Colleen Garcia, Marian Rivera, and more.
Inspired by the works of international icons like Steven Meisel and Avedon, as well as local master lensman Mark Nicdao, Ramirez believes that fashion photography is not just about taking a good photograph and selling it to a client and forming a dialogue with the subject that would in turn speak to those who would see the image.
“It’s about capturing a moment that will serve as your legacy. A photograph lasts a lifetime. Do not take each opportunity you get to shoot for granted. Personally, I am blessed that I get to call this my profession. It’s a plus that doing what I love pays the bills.”
Ramirez has done campaigns for beauty and lifestyle brands, movie posters, billboard campaigns and of course, magazine editorials but it’s his small passion projects that keep his creative juices flowing.
“Whenever I have free time, I constantly look for collaborators to work on a test shoot. That way, I could be as free flowing as I can be,” he discloses, adding, “Lighting, posing, directing your subject, you can learn and master that through time, but developing your ‘eye’ takes time. Personally, I am still developing mine even after all these years.”
“Many are called, but few are chosen,” he waxes philosophical. Fashion, the convoluted industry that it is, is for Advan, not for the faint of heart nor for someone who does not breathe and live it.
“Today, there’s an abundance of tools that could make everyone an expert. Take a smartphone, use it to take a photograph, and you are now a photographer on Instagram. It’s good that there’s so much democracy nowadays and that getting ‘in’ is not so much of a battle now than it was before, but to last and enjoy what this industry has to offer, is to take it seriously. If you’re in it just to make a buck, forget it. You may earn some, but it will not sustain you, because you’re here for the wrong reason.”
Images courtesy: Advan Ramirez