So here we are with Cameron Krone. Yes, the Cameron Krone who assisted Nathaniel Goldberg, Mario Sorrenti, Craig McDean, Jason Kibbler, and Ben Watts. Not to mention he shot for V Magazine, VMAN, Tank, Tokion, Nylon, Giant, S, FHM Collections and more. If that doesn’t impress you then in the words of Gollum, “Leave now, and never come back.” Okay, I’m a diehard Lord of the Rings fan. But we’ll save that for a later post. It’s no surprise that Cameron is quickly climbing the ladder of success, with his name appearing left and right in magazines, on the web. Some background, Cameron is inspired by Kanye West, Kate Moss, Lupe Fiasco, Minimalism, Hedi Slimane, Dior, Keira Knightley, Visionaire, Bob Richardson, Trump, Tiger Woods. For the full list head here. Glad we got that over with. There is certainly more to be said about this man than the mere talent he looks up to. So let’s get down to deets.
Trey Taylor: Cameron Krone. I’ve tried to make these questions really worthwhile. So. Number One. I think it’s safe to say there are plenty more “manly” jobs out there. How do you find a balance of masculinity with your job as a fashion photographer, and how do you incorporate that masculinity into your work?
Cameron Krone: Well, yes, to be honest, there are much more “manly” jobs out there. Being a plumber or electrician is manly as well as being a pro football player. However, the quest to be “manly” doesn’t really get me going in the morning. What gets me up in the morning is the beautiful women that I shoot and the prospective life that lies ahead for successful fashion photographers. Traveling, being around creative people, doing something that you love.
I am mostly inspired by fashion photographers who have that hard edge, that knockout punch behind their work. The soft 80’s glamour of Meisel isn’t what gets me going, more the race car images of Michael Comte or the strength of the Helmut Newton girl. Giving the girls I shoot strength, power, and confidence is how I put masculinity into my work. To shoot a girl laying in a field of flowers on a summer day is not something I’d do. Ever.
TT: For some reason I can’t get over everything you have to say. Hence, your blog is something I enjoy taking a peek at. Is there something you are trying to convey with your work? Any messages you’d like the public to know?
CK: I try to inspire people with my work, especially with my blog. I try to have my work symbolize confidence and standing up for what you believe in. To not care what people think and especially not form your own life view around what other people tell you it should be.
TT: I love your advice, and was particularly struck by what you wrote the other day:
“The main difference that separates the good, great, and elite inviduals in their given fields was daily “deliberate practice” spanning a minimum of 10 years, with 20 years of this type of effort being an even better predictor of world-class achievement.
Grit is when you hang in there when no one else believes in you. To pursue your goals in the absence of positive feedback. When Kanye West started to sing, no one believed in him. When J.K Rowling began to write Harry Potter, no one cared. Michael Jordan beat you because he practiced harder. Tiger Woods beat you in that playoff because he is more mentally tough. If you have grit, you can do anything. No joke.” I have a feeling that you’d agree with my favourite quote from Walt Disney, “All our dreams can come true, if we have the courage to pursue them.” So I guess the question is, did you face scrutiny along your journey, when there was nobody to believe in you?
CK: In 2006, I moved to New York to pursue photography. I had no friends here, I didn’t know any of the areas, I didn’t know HOW to go about becoming a photographer. I called everyone for advice on how to proceed with my career with no clearcut answers. I was scared about ever making it. I had doubts that I’d ever make it. I assisted but wasn’t into it. I had full monetary support from my parents but all this did was make me feel guilty from taking money from them. I didn’t know the type of photography I liked nor did anyone take my work seriously. I sent emails to all the magazines and never received any response. I started shooting for the low end magazines that paid nothing with low end models, low end everything. I had people giving me advice to go in all sorts of different directions and I never knew which way to go. BUT, through all of this, I knew that everything would work out someday. When I ran with my IPOD and listened to great music, I had a realization of what my career would be like and I KNEW that I had it in me. Music is what drove me. It’s what still drives me.
Everything just began to build from 2006 onward. I made a few good friends, I started going to some parties and establishing relationships, I started testing better models and slowly developed my relationships with the model agents. One thing led to another through the sheer force of nature. When you pursue your dreams or anything that you are passionate about, the resources slowly come to you when you are ready to utilize those resources. I started at Rap Fanatic and began shooting for GIANT. Rap Fanatic was my training ground. I started shooting for TRACE and now I’m shooting for V. TRACE was my training ground. If you start at the top, god bless you, because you won’t last long. Climb that mountain, gather resources as they come, do 3 things a day to help your career, and in a few years you’ll be on your way. ON YOUR WAY!
TT: Already on number four. So I’m an avid listener of this podcast called Lightsource, where they interview photographers. They recently interviewed this glamour photographer named Stephen Eastwood. What I got out of the interview was that Stephen told the listeners to be marketable, and shoot what they love on their own time. In essence it sounded to me like he said give up now and just do what people tell you to. It sort of punched me in the stomach a bit. Would you say his statement has any verity? Wouldn’t you rather pursue your dreams with little pay than being unsatisfied and wealthy?
CK: Hmm. This is a question I can give a solid answer for. Being poor is one of the worst feelings (for me) in the world. Yes, I think it’s valid to say that you should always do it for the love but you DO have to eat. I have some friends who are shooting for trendy mags and their work is trendy with zero commercial appeal whatsoever. In fact, I know one guy who hasn’t progressed anywhere in his career because he can’t even afford to shoot. Imagine being a photographer and not being able to afford to take pictures. Theiren lies the problem and correlates to what Stephene Eastwood was saying. Yes, take your OWN pictures. The pictures that mean everything to you. BUT, you absolutely have to have some commercial appeal to have a successful career with a decent salary, etc. And, in my opinion, being paid for my work gives me a sense of satisfaction and self confidence. It shows me that people actually do appreciate my work enough to pay for it. There are some photographers who aren’t very commercial in their work but have had huge success. Ryan McGinley, Hedi Slimane, Juergen Teller, etc. But, these guys have played the game correctly. They have earned the right to be who they are. I think Stephen is pretty right on. Money does come into play at some point. Eating ramen noodles until you’re 40 doesn’t sound good in my book. That’s the truth!
TT: I was a bit surprised to come across this in one of your interviews: “I love people with strong attitudes because that shows the person feels things. Allow yourself to cry in sad movies, allow yourself to be angry every once in awhile, be competitive!” What do you mean?
CK: I meant that it’s fine to show your emotions. If you’re upset, get upset. If you’re shy, be shy. Don’t pretend or cover up your feelings. Be you. As Lil Wayne said, DO YOU.
TT: So a long time ago you HATED black and white. Now black and white mostly dominates your work. And I know you’re a fan of minimalism, and you create that feeling very well. But the world is full of amazing colour. What do you find about black and white that is so powerful?
CK: I find it’s much more graphic. I am into graphic things. Richard Maier buildings with the glass, steel, etc. are very graphic and focused more on the shapes than the color. I somehow find that black, white, and grey are very sheik. I’d go for the black Porsche over the red one. I wear a black jacket in New York on winter days. My apartment walls are white. The soles of my shoes are black and the asphalt on the sidewalks are grey. I like stainless steel watches and photos look best in black frames. Glass is clear and my mirror I’d classify as grey. Color cheapens things sometimes and I like expensive.
TT: I think you can attest to me being very bothersome. My main hobby is bugging models and photographers about insight into the industry. It really fascinates me how people get involved. It’s very difficult to find people who will actually give information. With photographers, it’s like “never share a magician’s secrets”. It gets difficult to remember what I liked about fashion photography in the first place when you get no love unless you’re “in the loop”. Would you say you are different from most fashion photographers? In what aspects?
CK: I’m different in the fact that I could give a shit whether you knew everything about my lighting or anything else because, in the end, only I can take the pictures I take. You can have the same model, same makeup artist, same stylist, same camera and we could have totally different shoots. Take my lighting “tricks”, you can know the equipment I shoot with, etc. and I can tell you what inspires me but that won’t give much away. Ben Watts, Nathaniel Goldberg, and I use the same exact light on most shoots (Breise 180 umbrella) but it doesn’t matter because we all have different visions.
TT: You sort of slipped into the industry by meeting Nathaniel Goldberg’s lawyer. But for some of us in small town Canada, it’s not exactly a walk in the park to just pop over to New York. It’s quite disheartening to not be able to do what I want because of limits and barriers. What would you do in my [and many others’] situation?
CK: There is a guy Daniel Sannwald that shot the cover of Dazed & Confused and the guy lives in Denmark or something. I forget where he’s from but my point is that it doesn’t matter where you’re from to a certain degree if you create amazing work. BUT, the biggest thing is connections and all the connections are made in the major cities. My advice would be move to New York. If you aren’t here, you have a much tougher road. Yes, there is more competition here but you’ll realize that competition isn’t that big of a deal if you’re working harder than your competition.
TT: Last but not least, what do you know? I’m sure you’ve heard that song that goes something like “I wish that I knew what I know now/ When I was younger”. Tell me something with no regrets.
CK: Be a little cocky. Girls love that.
Thank you for the intense grill sesh, and for being such a champ in talking to somebody so far away who has nothing to do with you. That’s what I call inspirational. Let’s bridge the connection between everybody. g