Interview with David Cohen de Lara | GBPW Episode 141

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David Cohen de Lara.

If you’re not good at this, you could just quit. I mean that in a really positive way. For me, quitting music was one of the best things I ever did. I should have done it sooner because there was no future in it. Quitting music opened the door for me to get into photography because I couldn’t do both at the same time. Photography worked out really well for me.

David Cohen de Lara

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In this episode, I speak with fashion photographer David Cohen de Lara. After quitting music production, he pursued photography and found a lot of success in the industry. David has worked with Calvin Klein, Vogue, Elle, Tommy Hilfiger, and many other prestigious companies.

We talk about:

  • Why quitting doesn’t always mean that you’ve failed
  • David Cohen de Lara’s tips for aspiring commercial photographers
  • Why a 15-megapixel camera is more than enough for fashion magazines

This is a refreshing and uplifting episode that’s perfect for anyone who wants to pursue fashion photography. If you’re looking for valuable knowledge and entertainment, this is the best place to start!

Here is a preview of our conversation with David Cohen de Lara.

Q: You had an agent for 10 years, but you recently stopped working with them. What was that experience like?

David Cohen de Lara: Back then, it was really good for me because I was a new photographer. I had gotten some traction and people seemed to like what I was doing, but nobody really knew who I was yet. Back then, Instagram didn’t exist yet, or at least not as a serious platform for photographers. A lot of the ad agencies and fashion clients were used to going through agencies.

Contrary to what a lot of photographers think, they don’t magically start bringing you tonnes and tonnes of jobs. What they want is to find somebody who has the potential to work a lot, who’s preferably going to get jobs anyway, and then they get their cut of that. They brought me some jobs. They definitely brought me into contact with the first magazines that I worked for, which was really valuable to me.

I’m seeing lots of other photographers around me that used to be with an agent and then quit. They’re doing it all themselves now. With Instagram and all the tools you have, that’s really doable. It’s not the way it was before.

Q: What technical advice would you give to commercial photographers who want to take better photos?

David Cohen de Lara: What’s worked well for me is to keep things quite simple. This is also what I’ve learned from working as an assistant and post production artist for other photographers. In a lot of cases, what these people do is they don’t overcomplicate things too much. A lot of it is about what’s in front of your camera. That’s the most important thing.

Get something in front of your camera that actually looks good. If the model is not great, the styling doesn’t work, or your location is not great, nothing you do technically will make it into an interesting picture.

Q: In your experience as somebody who helps a lot of photographers online, what do photographers struggle with the most in general?

David Cohen de Lara: What I often see is that photographers start the other way around, especially when learning on the internet. They start with the techniques and the equipment, and they forget to think about the idea. “Why am I shooting this? Why am I asking somebody to look at this? What am I trying to express in here?”

If there’s any big lesson that I would give to any photographer, it’s to think about what you’re trying to make your audience feel, experience, or wonder about.

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Taya Iv is a portrait photographer, 500px ambassador, and host of Great Big Photography World podcast.
Taya Iv is a portrait photographer, 500px ambassador, and host of Great Big Photography World podcast.
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