We made quite a fascinating discovery earlier this month as we stumbled upon Lydia Hudgens’s Instagram account. Lydia is a New York-based fashion photographer, who does not only capture the best street styles in the Big Apple but who also has one of the coolest fashion senses we’ve come across.
Originally from San Francisco, Lydia discovered her passion for fashion and jumped at the opportunity to move to NYC. She’s worked with countless fashion bloggers and collaborated with an array of designers, and has recently discovered a new source of inspiration: travelling. So without any further ado, here is our one-on-one with the photographer:
A: Hi Lydia, thank you so much for taking the time to sit down with us today! To start, we would love to know what inspired you to become a photographer and to study fine art photography?
L: I got into photography after discovering James Nachtwey in the movie War Photographer and initially was interested in being a documentary photographer. I went to school for it but after a year or two in the program switched over to fine art photography when I found a love for studio work and alternative processes. I spent a lot of time working with the human form so it seemed only natural that I would make the switch to clothed “fashion” expression only years later.
A: You have an extensive portfolio of beautiful photography with a strong focus on fashion. Could you tell us why you choose to concentrate on that field in particular?
L: I personally love fashion. I love the history behind it, the idea of self-expression, the way a garment can tell a story. We dress to suit our mood or to create a mood and that language spoke to me, especially on film.
A: How closely related do you think fashion and photography are and why do you think that is?
L: I think fashion plays a huge part in photography because it directly connects the image with time. Yes, style has changed dramatically over the years and has a tendency to circulate back to touch on old favourites but in general, fashion marks a photo. I can glance at any photograph on Pinterest, let’s say, and get an immediate feel for when it was most likely taken. Same with museums, books, Instagram itself. Unless a photograph doesn’t feature a person, their style sets the mood directly
A: How does a typical shoot day in the streets of NYC look like?
L: Usually I start early, by choice, say 8 am on any given day. Shooting on location differs depending on the season but typically you’ll find me in a comfortable outfit as mobility is key for me. We find either quiet pockets in New York, to focus on the outfit and create a quieter mood or find a hustling area, say SOHO, or Flatiron, to again try to capture the energy of the city. I typically have quite a few clients, so once they’re done changing (usually in a hotel lobby or room, breather, cafe, etc.) I move onto the next.
I commute a lot, either on foot, by train or the occasional lift if I’m in a hurry and need to answer some emails. I personally love shooting early in the morning or late afternoon for the best light but depending on the neighbourhood and the expanse of buildings, there’s a lot of open shade so it’s an easy workaround. Plus a few of my clients actually prefer high contrast light, which is definitely fun to shoot in! Usually, sometime during the day, I pop into my gym in Union Square to get a work out in. It’s a nice break to reenergize. When the light dies, I go home and I spend the next few hours at my computer, answering emails and editing photos.
A: It goes without saying that you’ve got a unique sense of style. Who is your biggest inspiration when it comes to the way you dress?
L: Honestly, that’s a difficult question. I think street style itself is my biggest inspiration – I think style is all about experimenting too. Before this past year, I lived in black, as with quite a few photographers. But this year I started playing with colour, new proportions, etc. I think the biggest hurdle I got over was because I started dressing in clothing I personally knew I would be excited to photograph. Brighter colour, fun texture, etc. I also feel like the plus community has been supportive of a lot of girls because I’m not the smallest and I got over the idea of dressing for my shape, or to flatter. I dressed to express myself and often times, black just doesn’t suit my mood. I dress boldly now because I’m not ashamed or want to hide. I think as women we tend to do this a lot, regardless of size, and the idea of dressing out of our comfort level can be scary. It’s all about taking that first leap.
A: And finally, what advice would you give to anyone who is trying to break through in the world of photography?
L: Experiment, shoot a lot, reach out to models, hair, makeup, collaborate. But also – know your worth. Reach out to other photographers, shadow someone, learn from them. A thing I’ve continued to see is people shooting for little to nothing and in doing so, you’re bringing down the rest of the industry and these people are barely surviving. There’s no industry standard for photography, especially street style, and I feel like open communication among our peers is important to grow and support. I’m tired of feeling like everything is a competition when in reality there’s so much work to go around – our world lives online now, photography isn’t going anywhere quickly. You just need to adapt, grow, and learn with your peers.
QUICK FIRE QUESTIONS:
Favorite color: red
Go-to camera: canon 5d mark 4
East coast or West coast: west
Favorite artist: James Nachtwey
Describe yourself in 3 words: androgynous, strong, goofy
Favourite neighborhood to shoot in NYC: SoHo, west village, east village
Follow Lydia’s work on her website and social media!
Images: Lydia Hudgens