Claudia Bost is a fashion photographer and another fellow SCAD Atlanta alumna that is rising the ranks of the local fashion scene in Atlanta. She’s worked with Factory Girls, Spin Style, creative Asiyami Gold, fashion photographer Liz von Hoene, as well as being published in Eide, Jezebel and Vulkan Magazine. I met up with her on a busy Saturday morning at Dancing Goats at the buzzworthy Ponce City Market to chat about the Atlanta fashion scene, the internet famous Asiyami Gold and being a young creative.
You’ve done fashion work with Very Fine South, Factory Girls, Spin Style and numerous other Atlanta fashion creatives. What was it like working with these companies and what tips do you have for emerging photographers as far as getting work with local brands?
Working with Factory Girls was how I started getting into the whole fashion scene here in Atlanta. It was February of 2014 I started working with them, right before I graduated that May. I didn’t get into fashion photography until literally my senior when we took that fashion photography class together. I started working with Spin Style around the same time. I was reaching out to everyone. We knew some of the same people. I had my senior show at Big Studio. I knew Darcie[Adler of Spin Style] was friends with Liz [Von Hoene]. It was exciting and still is because there are only so many people doing things here in Atlanta within the art and fashion scene. It’s exciting to become a part of that circle and become a part of the rise of Atlanta. Also, it's really cool because a lot of those people are women. It was just nice to be around like minded people, not only because they are women but because we were all doing this creative thing together. The more you keep getting involved and doing stuff, the more it just snowballs. You meet other people and it’s like ‘Oh you know this person I worked with’ and it’s all very intertwined. It’s been cool to gain more knowledge and connections.
How did you get involved with Asiyami Gold? What collaborative work do you do together?
I started following her on Instagram. I thought she had a really cool feed. She was working with The Spin Style and knew Darcie. I also knew she had some sort of pop-up shop going on. She designs clothing and has collections come out now and then. I saw she was having a pop-up. She said to email to RSVP on her Instagram post. Then I just emailed her, reached out and she got back to me that same day and said to come by so we can meet and talk. From there we hit it off. We’re the same age. She’s 24 too. We just hit it off and started to work together. We are definitely planning to do some more stuff together.
How did you end up working with the blog Her New Tribe and how did your blog photography work differ from your other fashion and lifestyle work?
So I knew Abbey Glass, who worked with Factory Girls, for a while. We have a mutual friend. A guy I went to high school with went to college with her. He was 2 years older than me. He came back home to visit and Abbey was with him. That’s how I met her years ago. Around February of 2014 I saw that she was back in town. I mentioned to her that I was getting into fashion photography. We met a while ago and I remember that we had a really good conversation about art. She remembered me and that was how I ended up shooting their first fashion presentation. That night I met Stephanie from Her New Tribe. She had just moved here and said that she was looking for a photographer for her blog. We really hit it off. She moved to Portland beginning of this year so that ended. I shot for her for a little over a year.
Honestly, I did it because I liked her and I liked working with her but I wasn’t really into street style or lifestyle photography. If someone else approached me about it I probably wouldn’t have done it. It can be very generic. It doesn’t feed my soul. I stopped shooting weddings and stuff like that. The more you do those things, the more people think you’re that type of photographer. That’s not really what I’m trying to focus on. You can’t say no to everything at first. You’ve got to try things out. But she’s like an older sister to me so we’re still very close. It was fun working with her because we did try to make it a little different to where it was more authentic. It was really cool because we got to collaborate and I feel that with other people you don’t get that opportunity. They just want it done in a very certain way. It’s very stylized. It is a lot different than a person project for yourself or working for a client. It’s a all similar yet different with the way you have to work with people.
We met during a fashion photography class at SCAD and it seems that your career has taken off as a fashion/lifestyle photographer here in Atlanta. Do you feel that your photography degree prepared you for the work that you are currently doing in the field? If not, what would you want to have learned at art school that they didn’t teach you?
I do think it did help me a lot. I knew I wanted to do photography since I was 14. I thought ‘Alright. I’ll go to school for this.’ I will say that once you do graduate and are out there, it has a lot to do with the type of person you are, so if you aren’t a motivated person, self driven and on top of things and good with time management then you’re not going to do well doing freelance. It takes a certain type of person. You’re your own boss essentially. No one is telling you to get up. No one’s telling you to email this person or go network. You have to do those things yourself.
As far as what I wish they had taught more of was more of the business side. That’s something you learn as you do it. They can’t just give you it all. You have to learn through your experiences. We just had one class. Out of the 4 years you are there you get to learn the business side of it which is actually a really big chunk of it, only for a quarter. It’s not enough. You can’t cram all that in. At the same time I wouldnt have never known how to send out an estimate, then the confirmation and then the contract. I also feel that they made it seem that you have to do that and sometimes I feel that can turn people off that you’re trying to work with. You are just starting off. You can’t be all business and sign this. You got to go with it and make it work for you. Don’t be all about the business side of it until you’re at that level. If the person you’re working with is at the same level as you then you don’t need to do that. They’re still growing and small and learning. If it’s someone huge like Coca Cola then that’s another story. There were situations when some magazine would come to me and I wouldn’t know what to say so I would call our old professors Forrest [McMullin] and Cooley [Allen Cooley] or visit them at school and ask them how to approach things.
Also, Capture One! I wish we had learned more about Capture One.
What tips do you have for navigating the world of freelance photography?
When I graduated I knew that’s what I wanted to do. I wasn’t even in my mind that I’m going to work for someone and work out of corporate.That wasn’t even part of my plan. I worked throughout college and saved money so I could have a cushion. You’re not just going to start off doing freelance consistently every month. I saved because I knew I was going to need it. I wasn’t going to be making money the first couple of months. I did shoot sporadically and randomly and a lot of it was free. It wasn’t until January of 2015 that every single month, I was consistently picking up jobs. It started out as just once that month, then it was 2 times the next month and then 3 times. From there it kept snowballing.
With networking, I like to be social and meet people. Just going out. Any sort of events going on, I would be there because I wanted to and wanted to support those small business and little shops. Freelancing is not easy to manage and juggle. It’s scary. You wonder if you’re doing this right. Then you get caught up. I was working with this boutique for like 6 months and it was terrible. The way I was shooting was for them, which was product, I just couldn’t do it. First of all, I hated it. It was dressing the mannequin and then Photoshopping the mannequin out. It wasn’t what I was wanting to really do. Again you have to try things out. You can’t be like ‘This is the only work I do.’ When you’re starting off you really have to dip your feet in all the little puddles.
The hardest part about doing freelance is become consistent and finding the work and then talking about money, especially as a women. I read this article about being a woman and photographer, just starting out and how it's intimidating. You wonder if you’re asking for too much or too little. You’re scared to even bring up how you should be compensated and you end up doing it for free. I mean, I did a lot of free work because I may have genuinely believed in that thing and that maybe it would benefit me later on down the road. Don’t be scared to be proud of your work and your skills and to say what you’re worth. I’m always willing to work with people. If they don’t have the budget and I want to work with them then we can make it work for both of us.
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