by Jennifer Ostuni
This is looking like crazy. we met the famous fashion photographer at the British Airways lounge at Heathrow for a very exclusive interview.
We jumped with him in a cab from the London studio to the airport and finally we had the permit from the British for having the interview inside the business class lounge.
SM: Goodmorning Mr Shaw.
SM: What’s does it means to be a fashion photographer in 2016?
JS: It means to be ready to change one more time. Well, fashion is changing every 6 months and photographers should come out with new inspirations every new fashion season. That was what happened in the 80s and in the 90s. We should learn from that.
SM: Who’s been your mentor in photography?
JS: Ansel Adams for whatever was linked to the darkroom and probably Elliott Erwitt for the shooting area. But honestly whatever is image creation is always my best inspiration.
SM: You started in the 90s in Milan. What do you remember from that time?
JS: I remember the 90s like the most creative time ever and we should go back there to find what we are missing today.
I met some of the most incredible creatives in the 90s like Gianni Versace and GianFranco Ferré. Some of their clothes are even more trendy today 20 years later but for sure when we were looking at a fashion editorial it was easy to identify who the designer was. Today it’s hard to do it, sometimes it’s just a copy and paste between brands and that is killing the fashion business.
SM: I understand but what about the budgets? Today we can’t work with the same budget you had in the 90s for a fashion editorial for Vogue.
JS: In the last 15 years the fashion business has been thinking it was a matter of budget. Totally wrong, it was a matter of quality.
The most part of the publishers wanted to cut the expenses and they commissioned jobs to the cheapest people around.
That decision killed the quality of the fashion editorials.
If you open an Elle or Vogue issue from the 80s or the 90s, you still enjoy almost every single picture and you enjoy the creativity that is sitting behind that shot.
Today if you open any magazine, 99% of the cases you are going to forget the pictures you see in the fashion editorials right in the same moment you turn that page.
It was not a problem of budgets, it was just a problem of quality. Some brands did the same with the advertising campaigns. They used to spend 1 million dollar in a campaign but they called the cheapest creatives to cut the budgets. It’s like to buy a Ferrari but using a Smart car engine.
We need to go back to the quality.
SM: But you need good budgets to make it happens…
JS: You do, but if you consider that the brands are open to pay the costs for the editorials, it’s not something impossible, I can even say it’s really easy. In that way we bring the fashion editorials back to what they really deserve.
SM: I don’t wanna focus on this too much, but how does it costs a fashion editorials?
JS: You can find people giving you the service in Paris, London and mostly in Milan working for $1,000. And in the same price you can have the studio, the model, the make up and the photographer. We all do fashion editorials when we like the project, because of the exposure not for the money.
Some of the most famous models in the past used to do fashion editorials for just a few bucks. Because the project was really good and because it involved a great photographer and a great stylist. They really wanted to do it for the passion they had.
But if you keep it very cheap just for a budget issue, it’s not worth it.
SM: But if you keep on shooting at a low level…
JS: Right, if the magazine keep on shooting cutting budgets where it’s not needed, we can’t change the system. We’ll keep forgetting the editorials in the same moment we close the magazines.
SM: The most beautiful woman you’ve ever shot?
JS: There are so many.
SM: We need a name, only one name?
JS: I shoot only when I really want to. I’m lucky enough to shoot who I really want to shoot, not just the ones my manager is pushing in my schedule. So, I’ve been shooting really a lot of beautiful women and all of them have something special and about so many of them I have memories of stunning beauties.
SM: Old same question, do you like shooting digital?
JS: I adore digital in the same way I was loving the analogic.
SM: And about the fact that everyone can buy a digital camera and start shooting in a day?
JS: It’s part of the game, and it’s beautiful that the photography can be available for everyone. In the past it was a very expensive hobby, today it’s so much easy to buy a camera and to shoot. Creativity has no limits and no levels of value. It’s free and it must be available for everyone. The digital gave this chance to everyone, to express what they have in mind.
SM: Celebrities love you like crazy, they all would be in front of your camera sooner or later. How does it makes you feel?
JS: I don’t have time to make any difference. Celebs or unknown new faces, I always treat them in the same way. And even if some gossip mags sometimes published pictures with me and some celebs taking a coffee at a Starbucks in Hollywood or while walking in Santa Monica. It was just a friendly time that I love to keep in my life and when it comes I’m not considering if the person I have in front of me is famous or not. When I have a break, I do the same with a stylist going to Venice to buy some baseball hats. I do the same with a model going to the Beverly Center, with the assistant going out for a beer, with the make up artist going for a drink. A very normal life. I’m not asking if they are famous or not.
SM: Where do you live when you are off?
JS: Whenever I can, I go back to stay with my daughter, with my horses and my dogs at my ranch. I really need to keep a private place where I can escape anytime I need.
SM: What do you love to do when you are not working?
JS: I love to relax, I love walking and jogging listening to some good music.
SM: Your manager told us that you are not at all that party man…
JS: I am not, I know everyone would pay to be in my position and having parties almost every day.
I don’t, it’s 25 years that I’m in this business, when I’m off I just want to relax.
SM: What is the place you love the most in this world?
JS: I have more than one. The world is full of beautiful places but we can’t live everywhere. But I’ve been lucky. I was living in South Beach, in Fort Lauderdale, in LA, in Malibu, in Manhattan, in London and in Paris in the last 25 years, and it’s just so hard to pick up one.
SM: Just curious, what camera do you use?
JS: I have a couple of Hasselblad H5d.
SM: The next flight?
JS: In a couple of hours going to Nice, south of France.
SM: And your fav soundtrack?
JS: Since the time I was living in Lauderdale by the Sea, Florida, “Everybody Hurts” by the REM or “Tiny Dancer” by Elton John.
SM: The most iconic model from the 90s?
JS: Even if I always admired a lot Christy Turlington when I met her a couple of times in Milan for some fashion shows, I think that if you talk about iconic, I would say Cindy Crawford and Elle MacPherson would be my choice.
They have been probably the most complete models ever. They were perfect for a fashion show, for a glamour magazine, for a calendar, for a beauty magazine and for whatever was image creation. This is a quality that you can’t easily find in a model.
SM: Do you like the most shooting fashion or celebrities?
JS: As always there’s nothing to choose, you shoot fashion if you love what the fashion is all about. You shoot portraits of celebs because you like to shoot the people, you don’t really care if they are celebs or not, you just love to shoot people.
SM: We know you live between London and LA. What’s your fav place in London and your fav in LA?
JS: In London I live very close to Hyde Park and I spend so much time there when I’m off. In LA there are a lot of places. Probably I love Malibu for the quality of life, the quiet and the privacy that you can find there.
SM: When we’ll see you behind a camera directing a movie?
JS: I have contracts to respect and a very busy schedule that is killing my life but very soon I will place my first step into the movie business.
SM: Ok let’s talk about private life…
JS: No, thank you.
SM: you live such an incredible life, but what do you like and what do you hate the most in this business?
JS: I still have the same attraction to this job and the same passion I had 25 years ago when I started shooting concerts and fashion shows in Milan and Paris. So, I love the charme that comes with this business. And as I said I hate the cheap that is running inside this industry. We need the quality and we need people with a lot of talent and full of passion for what they do.
SM: If you could go back in time what would you like to change in your life?
JS: Oh please, look at me. I’ve been lucky enough. I would change nothing in my life.
Because the good moments gave me the right inspirations and the bad ones showed me the way to grow up.
SM: I must tell you, I see why the people love you so much. They call you the celebrity photographer because you are the celebrity. You have more than 200k people following on twitter, more than 29k on Instagram and around 15k a day on your website, but you look so much down to earth and like coming from the past with your way to handle with the people around you. That makes you special Joey Shaw. Thank you for your time.
JS: Thanks for your words and for having me here.