Photography is easily one of the most important components of any blog--and one of the most difficult to master. So, obviously, we need to turn to someone who knows what's up and can give solid advice for the rest of us noobs~

Today I had the pleasure of interviewing Ethan aka the OX, a self-taught Cuban & Nicaraguan photographer & architecture student at the University of Illinois in Chicago. Even though Ethan has only started his photography career less than a year ago, his photography definitely has the feel of professional, high-fashion editorials. And it's totally rad.
Let's just say, he obviously definitely knows his stuff (you can see for yourself)--and today he is sharing tips and suggestions with you!

Chicago photographer, chicago blogger, chicago designer, fashion editorial, fashion blog, chicago fashion blog

HK | What does fashion mean to you? What does photography mean to you? 

EA | Fashion photography is a platform for unlimited creativity. The amount of skill it takes for a model to make the clothes on her body aesthetically invigorating requires the model to know their body as well as the architecture of the clothes. The photographer then has to place and organize objects in space and manipulate light to create a beautiful composition.  Then if the photographer knows how to use Photoshop has to spend hours perfecting the image. This enormous complex process makes looking at the final product extremely rewarding. I love the challenge, the chance at every turn to experiment and be creative.

HK | Where do you usually draw inspiration from? 

EA I draw inspiration from Pinterest, people I follow on Instagram, and my fashion magazine subscriptions to W Magazine, Bazaar, Elle, and Vogue. I make folders of the photos and organize them together to create the moodboard for photoshoots.

Chicago photographer, chicago blogger, chicago designer, fashion editorial, fashion blog, chicago fashion blog

HK | What type of camera(s) do you currently use? What sort of equipment would you recommend for beginners?

EA | I currently use Canon EOS Rebel T3 with a Canon 24-70mm f/4 lens. I recommend a speedlight you can configure manually, a stand, a speedlight softbox diffuser, a boom arm, tripod, 5 in 1 reflector, trigger & radio slave,a Sigma/Tamron zoom lens,(18-250, 50-250,24-70) and extra camera batteries. I still use that equipment to this day. 

HK | ....ah. I don't know what any of that is. Unfortunately. not all bloggers have the opportunity to work with photographers and use *just* a tripod and self timer to take photos of themselves for their blog. Do you have any suggestions/tips on taking photos this way? 

EA | Bring a friend with a similar skin tone and height. Use your friend as a test subject. Check the lighting on their body and especially their face. Use the background to frame the figure and place the model where all the attention is drawn the subject.

HK | Yes! Lighting is SO important! Do you prefer indoor or outdoor lighting? What is the most ideal?

EA Outdoor photography, I love the challenge of having more light that is difficult to manipulate. There is also more to capture within the frame. While other photographers might refer to it as noise, I think overcoming the challenge of including that noise into the composition and making it aesthetically pleasing is a tremendous reward!

HK | What are your suggestions on best utilizing outdoor lighting?

EA Outdoor lighting is fun and changes drastically therefore I’d recommend a lightmeter. The easiest times you work with natural light are during dawn at sunrise and sunset. The 5 lighting set ups I use:
o  Have the model facing directly away the sun. This creates a low contrast soft lighting on their face while also creating beautiful rim lighting on the hair.
o  Have the model facing the sun. There will be extremely harsh high contrast light so be very cautious and carefully watch the shadow created on the model’s face.
o  Place the model in the shadows and bounce light with a silver reflector. This will create a somewhat harsh light and it’ll be in the shape of a spotlight if your reflector is perfectly circular.
o  Portraits/Headshots/Beauty - Place a diffuser over the model and at around the height of the model’s waist use a white reflector or white foamcore to bounce light up towards the model.
o   If it’s mostly or all cloudy, bring a speedlight! Your model will blend into the background and it’ll make your image less appealing.

HK | And for those of us who are still not ready to face the world with our embarrassing posing? Any tips on mastering indoor lighting? 

EA Indoor lighting is quite easy actually, especially when there are large windows. The best way to manipulate light is by using speedlights on stands with boom arms and diffusers that can be easily adjusted. The first thing to consider before setting up the lights is to determine the effects of the ambient light already present as well as the temperature of those lights in contrast to that of the speedlights.

HK | Let's talk posing. From a photographer's point of view, what suggestions do you have for those on the other side of the camera?  

EA Be patient with the photographer. For those models that aren't experienced and are working with a photographer who is responsible then you’ll expect them to either know what poses they’ll want you in or they’ll show you other photos with examples. Come prepared with photos and practice poses if you know the theme before the photoshoot.
HK | Number one tip you'd give to photography beginners? 

EA | Stubborn ambition is key. Make the first move. 

Chicago photographer, chicago blogger, chicago designer, fashion editorial, fashion blog, chicago fashion blog

Be sure to keep up with Ethan's work for The Ox Project via his Pintrest, TumblrInstagram, or Facebook! If you have any particular questions, leave a comment below and I'll ask Ethan to stick around and help answer as many as he can! Also, if you have any suggestions on what type of post you'd like to see next in the blogging tips series, drop me a line! xx

"Blogging Tips" is a new series on JooJoo Azad started due to popular demand and is focused on helping bloggers grow their blogs and speak out on issues that matter to them. New posts are published every Sunday.
For more: { blogging tips series }