A Sequel to Interview with Todd Anthony Tyler

Todd Anthony Tyler, Asia’s Next Top Model judge and resident photographer, is here with us again. Todd is known as a consummate raconteur using photography as his mastered and favorite medium. In fact, he is a big name on the fashion photography scene today.

In the first part of our interview, Todd shared valuable great tips on modeling and photography. He also talked about his optimistic expectations for the blooming Asian modeling industry. Click to read Asia’s Next Top Model Judge and Top Fashion Photographer Todd Anthony Tyler Gives Advice on Modeling and Photography.

In this equally interesting sequel, the prestigious photographer shares insider-savvy things such as how he prepares himself in the run-up to each shoot, how his quick-witted mind works once he’s on the set, and what it takes to be at the top of the uber-competitive modeling and fashion photography industries. Fiery passion, uncompromising diligence and discipline go a long way in his career, and it shows.

There’s nothing more enviable than having a self-fulfilling job that you relish all along. But you won’t be able to do your job persistently at the top of your performance before you seriously, fully commit and devote yourself to what you do day in and day out. We’ve solicited Todd’s thoughts on his profession, and his input gives us a rare opportunity to catch a fascinating glimpse into the workings of a mastermind that has been behind many awe-inspiring photos. Again, you don’t want to miss a wonderful chance to get inspired by Todd’s stunning personalities and professional work attitude.

SJ: You are acclaimed a true story teller. What intuitively comes to your mind before and during a photo session when you mentally design the images and physically capture the infinite beauty of the moment?

Todd Anthony Tyler: Before a photo session I often draw a number of little sketches for myself – more so doodles really. I do the small drawings very basic in stick figure form because it is essentially the composition and concept I want to retain. Once on the shoot itself I have a very clear idea in mind on what I want to shoot and how I will direct the model. However, the doodles and clear idea that I am visualizing are only a starting point. From there I draw from my years of experience and timing for capturing just the right moment.

You can think of it as I assemble a cast then push play and watch what unfolds in front of me waiting for just the right combination of elements to come together in order for me to press the shutter. A lot of shooting is second nature to me now, capturing movement and finding my angles comes quickly and without a lot of overthinking. The key I think is seeing the image before you capture it. I see the desired direction of my image in my mind then quickly and concisely recognize that image and capture it when shooting. All that said, every fashion photo shoot is a team effort. It is a collaboration of talents. Everyone on set has to do his or her very best work for solid fashion images. Fashion shoots can be like the classic chain analogy – one weak link can break and negatively impact the level of the final shoot results.

SJ: You’re admired to be one who pushes the boundaries of style and creative exploration. What is it that you consciously do to stand out as a brand that constantly raises the level of the game?

Todd Anthony Tyler: The quick answer to this would be that I consciously always try to bring something new to my work. That I avoid falling into ruts and that I never ever stop myself from exploring and taking chances. It is very easy to get bogged down in technical details when shooting – worrying about everything being just so or textbook. I really try to avoid falling into this trap. To keep myself from doing so I generally approach every shoot with an open mind and at times listen to others on set who maybe seeing something I am not.

I continue to learn new things on my shoots all the time and I think that it is important to not be too proud and to open yourself up to new ideas. Most of my photographic exploration happens on my editorial shoots as they usually present the best chance to take some artistic license and try something new in lighting or concept and create an image that conventionally would not be good for commercial work. Commercial work usually has a product-driven approach and that means more rigid boundaries in what you are shooting, boundaries that are often laid out by an advertising agency who has spent hours hashing out the concept in presentations to the client. However, even then I often have commercial clients come specifically to me because they know I am creative and not afraid to shoot something different.

SJ: You’re praised for really having an eye for detail. But what is your approach when dealing with models who seem to have a mind of their own?

Todd Anthony Tyler: As an individual I can appreciate a person with strong will and a mind of their own. However, as a pro photographer I want to work with professional people and clearly this includes the model. There is no place on my set for extra attitude. I position my shoots to be an enjoyable process for everyone involved as I am quite sure everyone on set came to their respective fields because they found they have a talent and wanted to enjoy using their talent to make a decent living.

Foul characters are not welcome on my set. I have had shoots that we sent models home because they were not performing as a professional. I do have a lot of patience and if someone is legitimately and honestly trying to do their best. I can go a long way in helping him or her even if it is taking up time on my shoot. At this point in my career though it can be a little frustrating to work with models who are booked as a professional but come to the shoot and have no grace or coordination and no ability to emote. I do admit I expect quite a bit from my model and that the agency has prepared the model to perform as a professional.

SJ: What do you like best about being a recognized top photographer and art director? Is there a downside of the profession that you don’t relish so much?

Todd Anthony Tyler: Being recognized as a top tier individual in your field is not only a stamp of approval from your peers but a culmination of years of hard work and belief in yourself and your talent. One of the things that drew me to photography was that it was an outlet for me as an artistic person. When you combine that with people enjoying your work and giving you positive energy and feedback on images you create there is no greater job satisfaction to be found. In a sense I am an entertainer with my photography and fashion stories. What an exciting prospect for me if I can bring a few seconds of pleasure into a person’s life with my images.

As credit grows in your name and work there comes a greater audience, which only serves to bring more personal satisfaction to be found in working hard and continually striving to create great images. I draw a lot of energy from the people who respond to my images. Certainly no downside there. I have an amazing job. I love my job. I am hard pressed to really say there is a downside but all of this doesn’t come without effort and some sacrifice. I have spent thousands of hours working 12 to 14 hour days 7 days a week for years to just get to the point I am at now. To succeed in this field and to sustain yourself you often need to make personal sacrifices and hard decisions. I would say it takes a particular character to succeed. You need non-stop energy and enthusiasm combined with a bit of a business sense all the while retaining who you are as an artist and a person.


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