Frédéric Lagrange, a fashion, travel and portraiture photographer loves the element of storytelling in fashion photography.Lagrange, one of Photo District News Magazine's 2003 Emerging Photographers, started his career in travel photography, but turned his attention to fashion after assisting Nathaniel Goldberg. "While I was working with Nathaniel, it was learning through observation. He never taught me anything directly but I learned by observing him work, creating on the spot. It was always a very smooth, flawless, effortless process. It was very easy for him to take amazing images. That was one lesson: creativity is not born out of struggle but rather in a relaxed, smooth environment and demeanor. I remember walking or being along with him while he was taking polaroids randomly on locations to show clients some ideas and when looking at the photograph, what struck me and everyone the most was that he could see angles that no one else could see which had me wonder 'how did he see that'? His other lesson: Push the reality into creating your own visual world, and always push further."
Since working with Goldberg, Lagrange's work has landed him assignments with Anthropologie, Conde Nast Traveler, Tatler, Free People, and "T" New York Times Magazine. Lagrange's portfolio now mixes travel, fashion and portraiture. That mix, Lagrange says, creates a stimulating juxtaposition. "On one hand, with travel photography, you're observing reality, the spontaneity of life and human condition," said Lagrange. "On the other hand, in fashion, you manipulate that reality, invent and create a new one, one in which everything is controlled and weighed."
To create this new reality, Lagrange works closely with the stylist on a shoot to create an idea or concept. From there, they collaborate to build the narrative of the shoot, choosing a theme and location that reflect the narrative. Once that's established, then come the models, the hair and the make-up.
"It's a whole process where the end result comes from consultations and collaborations of everyone involved," said Lagrange. To establish a career in commercial/fashion photography, Lagrange recommends that photographers develop a strong view and personality in their work and strive to create a signature, personal style.
"I also think its important for beginners/student photographers to expose themselves to what they love and want to be, either assisting an art director or a high end photographer. Someone who inspires and helps you gain a long term vision of what you want to become."
Lagrange also works constantly to promote himself, both through an agent, and on his own.
"My agents do promotional pieces and send them to ad agencies and magazines," said Lagrange. "I also send personal promotional pieces to art directors and magazine editors with whom I love to work, people I like very much. This effort pays back ultimately in time. I find a magazine whose aesthetic I like and then proceed to reach the art/creative director responsible for it."
This was the case with "T" New York Times Magazine and Port, based in London. After sending the creative team some promotional pieces featuring his work, Lagrange secured meetings with "T" New York Times Magazine and email exchanges with Port, which ultimately turned into assignments.
Lagrange also uses social media, and in particular, FACEBOOK, to reach out to a larger audience, outside of targeting editors and art directors.
"That page is more to provide live up-dates about work assignments, personal projects published featured and so on. Either my studio assistant or I up-date it whenever news and new images come in. To our surprise, the FACEBOOK page has generated a lot of feed back and responses, things that running a normal website does not provide."
Lagrange uses a mix of digital and film in all of his work. For digital, he uses a Canon Mark III, with an 85mm, a 50mm and Zoom Lens 24-70. When shooting film, he uses KODAK PROFESSIONAL PORTRA 400 Film with a 6x7 Pentax AND 100mm Macro.
For printing, Lagrange works with The Small Dark Room, in New York City. He has worked with them for seven years and has a built a strong relationship with them. Lagrange says this relationship is crucial in gaining the right result, faster.
"They know exactly what I expect when processing my images. They keep track of all the past jobs and can refer to past login in case I need references about a particular chemicals solution they used on a past job that provided a particular result. All is very organized and clear. I proceed the same way with digital retouching using Stella Digital in NYC. Building a long-term relationship with my lab and retoucher has helped me build shortcuts. "
To see more of Lagrange's work, visit www.fredericlagrange.com
Look around at print advertising from some of the top global brands and there's a good chance Splash is behind it. This month, we feature "5 Questions with Domenick Propati," COO of Splash Worldwide, a technology based communications agency.