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Bryant Eslava is currently 19 years old, and has achieved a tremendous amount as a photographer. His Tumblr has been featured in the spotlight due to his careful eye for creating portraits and photographing fashion. Bryant currently focuses on what is known as street-style fashion photography—an art form made popular by Scott Schuman (the Sartorialist) and Bill Cunningham of the New York Times.
Bryant was kind enough to take some time out of his schedule to chat with us about his success, and to share tips with our readers on how they can gain success too.
Bryant's photo was shot by David Urbanke.
B&H: You’re 19 years old, and have already established yourself. How did you get to where you are?
Bryant: It all started when I was 16 years old. I was rewarded with my first camera (Nikon D40) by my parents. Sooner or later, I began documenting my daily life with friends. The only way I saw things growing up as a child was through beauty (through my mother) and color (through my father). The reason I say that is because as a child, my mother would take me on long shopping sprees, so that's where the attachment to fashion came from. My father is a house painter, and I traveled a lot with him to visit some beautiful homes in high-class areas, which sparked an interest in color.
B&H: If you had to name one big struggle that you had to overcome as a photographer (creatively or business-wise) what would it be, and how did you overcome it?
Bryant: It would probably be setting up shoots on my own. Having to find a model, stylist, makeup artist, and hair stylist can be tough if you have a big concept in mind. But the best way to overcome it would be working with agents who represent all of the above. In fact, an agency just emailed me a few days ago offering their represented people for any upcoming shoots I'll be doing.
B&H: Your site is a totally customized Tumblr page. How did you embrace the community and become featured in Tumblr Spotlight?
Bryant: Yes it is! In fact, I sat through class one day and sketched out the way I wanted it. I scanned my sketches and sent them off to web designers. I'm always coming up with different ideas to make my site easier to navigate. I was invited to be featured on Tumblr Spotlight "Photography" last year, and recently was moved to "Fashion" due to much of the work I've been publishing lately.
B&H: Street-style fashion photography has become popular in recent years. You also find lots of your subjects in New York (according to your blog). How do you approach someone that you’ve just met and ask them for a photograph?
Bryant: It sure has! In fact, I met some well-known street-style photographers during New York Fashion Week, including Bill Cunningham, Scott Schuman, Tommy Ton, William Yan, Nam, Phil Oh, and the list goes on.
The best way to approach someone would be by complimenting their look, and asking for a quick photograph to publish on your site/blog. Most of the time they will ask for a card, and you always need to make sure you have those ready!
B&H: We’re curious about what gear you use. We’ve seen your Instagram, so we know that you love the iPhone, but what else is in your camera bag? We also know that you shoot film.
Bryant: I'm constantly switching up gear—buying, selling, and re-buying cameras. Anything from Canon digitals to some of the best cameras using Carl Zeiss lenses, different point-and-shoots and rangefinders. Lately I've been considering the new Mk III. Sooner or later, it'll be in my camera bag.
B&H: What are your thoughts on film's declining life? Ektachrome, for example, is now gone.
Bryant: It just makes me think how much technology is taking over the world. Nowadays it's become harder to tell the difference between digital and film. I have no clue if it was shot on an iPhone 4S, digitally, or with film. But then again, I love filling up my room with negatives and darkroom prints. Some people prefer film to digital, and it's completely understandable...which goes back to cassettes, vinyls, CDs and now digital. It's all about personal preference.
It bums me out that Portra 160NC and VC are gone, but luckily I stocked up on a bunch of it before it stopped selling. I should try out the new Portra color. Hopefully it's not too effective on skin tones, considering it's a mix of both NC and VC.
B&H: You’re enrolled at the School of Visual Arts right now. What was it like shooting Fashion Week and managing a school schedule at the same time?
Bryant: Dealing with school and NYFW was one of the toughest things ever. I'd receive emails from my professors with assignments, and at the same time I'd be receiving invitations to Fashion Shows. I missed an entire week of school, but at the end it was completely worth it.
B&H: What’s the biggest goal that you’re currently trying to accomplish?
Bryant: My biggest goal right now is to get in touch with an agent so that I can become represented. It's a goal I've made this year because more opportunities are coming, and I'd like for someone to help me out with it.
Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in this piece do not necessarily reflect the views of B&H Photo, Video, Pro Audio