Fstoppers Interviews Fashion Photographer Steve Fischer (NSFW)

This article contains images and/or video that the editors have flagged as NSFW (Not Safe for Work).
To view this content you must be logged in to your Fstoppers account.

Steve Fischer is a Los Angeles based fashion photographer specializing in shooting women for the fashion, high fashion, lingerie, swimwear and beauty markets. Steve started shooting about 15 years ago, taking a minor hiatus to write and produce television commercials. Not too long ago, he was in a car accident that nearly killed him and left him physically unable to shoot for several years. He returned to his love of fashion photography about four years ago and is here to stay.

What got you started in photography?I’ve always loved National Geographic and their wildlife photography. I’ve loved reading about their photographers and how they capture those amazing images. That was a catalyst that got me interested in shooting for a living. I went the fashion route because I felt like I had a natural understanding of how to make those images and what the fashion photography market is about.

What kind of gear would we find in your bag?Body:Canon 5D III

Lenses:Canon 50mm f1.2LCanon 85mm f1.2LCanon 100mm f2.8LCanon 28-300 f3.5-5.6LCanon 24-70 f2.8L

Do you prefer strobes or natural light if so what kind?I shoot about a 50-50 ratio of outdoors to studio and I truly love both, however I do not like shooting strobes outdoors, only in studio. There are certain situations where I have to incorporate strobes outdoors, but I only do this when I have to. When shooting outdoors I primarily use California Sun-Bounces and diffusion panels. I usually use the white sides of the bounces and get them in as close as possible to the model so my light is as soft as possible. If I’m shooting black and white I don’t mind using the harsher silver or gold sides for contrast.

Where do you find the majority of your inspiration (both inside and outside of photography)?For photography I get inspiration for magazines that I hope to shoot for in the near future, magazines like: I-D Magazine, Numero, Dazed and Confused, Vogue and other great fashion publications. Outside of photography I’m inspired by anyone that is great at what they do, gives back to the world, and is humble about it.

What is your mental checklist before a shoot?Assuming the shoot is for a magazine or ad campaign or some other paid project, I want to make sure I completely understand the creative brief I’ve been given by the magazine editor, creative director, art director or art buyer. Shooting editorials or campaigns is very much a team effort. Creative teams have spent a lot of time and effort nailing down a concept for the shoot and I can’t come in and decide to shoot something off-brief. Of course if time permits we might have some time at the end to experiment with other concepts but my mental checklist is making sure I understand the creative brief and I have thought through how I am going to execute that brief.

What is your thought process for location scouting? When shooting studio, how do you approach it differently?When I’m scouting for locations it’s not much different if it’s for a client job or a personal project. I look for locations that haven’t been shot to death. If people immediately recognize the location because they’ve seen it shot a thousand times before the production value goes way down. If it’s a client shoot it’s also important to know if there is an option for bad weather. If not, the client needs to know that risk. When you have models and crew on hold there are still fee’s that need to be paid (although they can be reduced fees) if the shoot is rescheduled because of weather. Of course I need to make sure I have the proper permits to shoot as well if it’s a client job. If it’s a personal project I might be willing to take a chance I’m going to get run-out.

What is your favorite subject to shoot?Very experienced fashion models. There is nothing better than shooting with a well-seasoned fashion model that doesn’t need any instruction while we’re shooting. We just discuss the look and feel of what we’re about to shoot and then we go for it.

Can you take us though your workflow from shoot to post? In studio I’m shooting on tether so I’m saving to the card, the computer, and an external drive at the same time. If I’m shooting location, I immediately offload the cards to a RAID drive as well as two other external drives. I then cut down the images I know can’t be used (out of focus, closed eyes etc.) and delete those from the folder saved on the RAID drive (but keep them on the other external drives). Once I have the killed shots removed from the RAID drive I upload the remaining images to my Dropbox account. I have a 200gig account for $24.00 per month and that’s a lot of piece of mind for $24.00. I then use Lightroom to catalog and make minor edits (color correction etc.). I create a color profile from each shoot (I shoot a color card at each shoot and different light setup). I use Color Checker Passport for that. I do very, very little postproduction so it’s rare that I export to Photoshop for more extensive editing. Sometimes magazines will do that and that’s their decision. I believe in a photo looking natural.

What is your favorite thing to shoot for yourself?When I’m shooting for myself I’m still shooting fashion but I tend to shoot edgier editorial fashion or black and white fine art nudes. I’m hoping to release a book of that type of content in the next 2-3 years.

What do you do on your down time (unconventional hobbies)?I’m somewhat of a workaholic so when I’m not shooting, I’m usually marketing to new clients or doing something photography related... but I love traveling, flying airplanes (I’m a commercial licensed pilot), playing poker, shooting guns on a range or shooting skeet.

How spontaneous is the process for you? Do you do a tremendous amount of pre-planning or prefer feel it out on the day?This really depends whether it’s a shoot for an ad agency or designer that has a creative brief and needs a specific shot or whether it’s an editorial or personal project with creative leeway. If it’s to be shot to a brief then it’s not very spontaneous, but if it’s an editorial or I have creative control then I’m very spontaneous. The majority of the time I haven’t shot with the model before and it’s a location I haven’t shot before so I can plan all I want but chances are things will change depending on how the model and I work together as well as the stylists, make-up artists etc. For those types of shoots I come into the shoot with a strong sense of the style I want to shoot but the details kind of reveal themselves as the shoot goes on.

How important of a role does postproduction play in your work?I never say “it’s okay we can fix it in post”. I really feel a lot of photographers (and creatives) rely too much on Photoshop. At some point it’s no longer a photograph, it’s a painting, when the entire shot has been manipulated. I shoot fashion and beauty and I really believe that true beauty is made up of things like beauty moles and slight imperfections. I think skin should have real skin texture and not have a plastic look to it.

What is the one thing you wish you had more of in your work?Cover shots.

What is the one thing you wish you had less of?Down days. I wish I were booked on shoots 7 days a week.

What defines the decisive moment of your photographs?After shooting for a few minutes I feel like I have a good ability to quickly pick up on what a model is going to do and predict how she’s going to move. Once I’ve connected with her I’m confident in my ability to know when that “decisive moment” is and then capture the best 1/100th of a second and turn that into a memorable photograph.

More of Steve's work can be found on his website, Tumblr and Instagram.

 
Log in or register to post comments

6 Comments

Great article. Thank you!

THIS!

"I really feel a lot of photographers (and creatives) rely too much on Photoshop. At some point it’s no longer a photograph, it’s a painting, when the entire shot has been manipulated. ...I really believe that true beauty is made up of things like beauty moles and slight imperfections. I think skin should have real skin texture and not have a plastic look to it."

Great article.

Why was this NSFW? Was it the cameltoe shot? IJS...

There's boobs 7 up from the bottom...

The photo 3rd from the bottom looks like she has testicles in her neck. NFSW

Elaborate, please.