Fashion photographer Justin Bridges has transformed his career to follow his passion. Originally from our hometown of Atlanta, Georgia, Justin moved to New York to study finance and economics, but found himself lured away by his love of photography. Inspired by his style of shooting, we tapped Justin to shoot our 2015 Product Guide.
When did you first start shooting?
I picked up a camera my junior year of college. I used to shoot friends for fun, and borrow cameras from people to play around. I felt I had a knack for it, and it was a good escape. When I moved to NYC, I put my camera away because I didn’t want to feel like a tourist. Eventually, I became miserable at my job and found my way back to my hobby. I never figured it would turn into a professional pursuit.
How did you make the career transformation from finance to photography?
It wasn’t a quick transformation. After finance, I started a blog to get some exposure, share my photos, and network. I had no idea what I was going to do but wound up getting a freelance job with J. Crew. I worked in planning and merchandising, and consequently, got picked up by Saks Fifth Avenue to join their Executive Excellence Program geared toward training future buyers. I worked with Saks for 2 years in e-commerce as an assistant buyer for multiple men’s categories. Every job in corporate retail felt too numbers oriented, so I made my way to fashion PR and then joined The Sartorialist as his men’s editor and photographer. Finally, after almost a year with Scott Schuman, I ended up leaving to start my own photography business. That was only a little over a year ago. Haven’t looked back since.
You have a lot of experience in fashion photography. Is fashion a passion of yours or how did you find yourself in this field?
I find it hard to believe, but I do love fashion. Fashion interests me, just like the study of economics, social behavior, and space. I’m an “observationist,” so by default, fashion is an awesome world to follow. I’ve always loved photographing people and before I thought photography was a viable career, I knew fashion could be a good transition for me. Luckily, I was able to marry the two. Interestingly, I don’t necessarily care about the clothes themselves… I care about the story, the styling, the expression that comes from their use.
How would you explain your style of photography?
Art + Science captured in unique and interesting slices of time. I love emotional, and moving and engaging topics. I love elevated artistic ideas and thoughtful concepts. But regardless of what I’m shooting, I like to marry art and science in that split second of time that an image is recorded.
What was your approach in shooting the Alternative core book?
My goal was to give Alternative a little edge and depth by elevating the photography and giving it a little variety of harder expression similar to how I would shoot for a more advanced fashion brand. Alternative Apparel makes really soft and comfortable casual and active pieces, as well as some great clothing in the contemporary space. I love to shoot men and women as if they were just extensions of one another, instead of completely different sexualities. I think that provided the opportunity to marry not only very approachable and beautiful imagery, but also a more overall edgy feel across the board. We used a lot of texture to pop the product and drive some contrast; and worked with the models to push the range of expressions.
Why work with Alternative?
Easy answer. I like working with good people.
Written by Kate Koeller
Photos by Justin Bridges