A few months back, we started seeing the same phrase in the credits of some of our daily blog reads: “Photos by Lydia Hudgens.” Our curiosity was piqued not only because these bloggers (more than a dozen) hired a professional to take their personal style photos, but also because they all trusted the same lady behind the lens. She’s Lydia Hudgens, and thanks in part to her work with bloggers, she’s recently become a full-time freelance photographer. We caught up with the Bay Area-born, Brooklyn, NY-residing Hudgens to get the scoop on her developing career and how she makes these gals look so dang good!
How did you start your career in photography?
I studied Fine Art Photography at the Academy of Art University in San Francisco. My work has definitely evolved since I first started – initially I shot only film & spent hours and hours in the dark room. Now I spend the majority of my time in front of a computer! Not much has changed, although I do miss the chemicals and the magic of developing film, prints and alternative processing.
How long has photography been your full-time job?
I have been freelancing full time for little under a month. I’ve been in New York over a year now, and decided after NYFW that it was time to make the jump into doing this full time. So far it’s been a complete whirlwind but I’m loving it, working with some amazing people, artists, designers and bloggers alike.
What kind of projects do you specialize in?
I’ve done a lot of work in the past for websites, independent boutiques, etc. Now I’m working mainly with bloggers but have a few things in the wings I’m really excited about and can’t wait to explore further! Would love to work more on the editorial side and start shooting for magazines or designers, etc.
How did you start photographing style bloggers?
The first blogger I ever photographed was Gala Darling many years ago. I approached her because she was one of my favorites, and when I heard she was coming to San Francisco I asked if she wanted to shoot. Unfortunately, we weren’t able to due to scheduling , but when I came to New York the next year we were able to shoot and I got the itch to work with more! It was amazing to work with women who were so independent, who were driven and worked entirely on something that inspired them.
I’ve worked with many bloggers, including: Gala Darling, Going West, Profreshstyle, Atlantic-Pacific, Brit & Whit, Style Activist, Style Cusp, The Hourglass , I Spy DIY, My Style Pill, Cheetah is the New Black, On the Racks, Style on the Couch, Nicolette Mason, Gabi Fresh, Lattershed, to name a few.
How do you draw out the best in your subjects?
I think the biggest feedback I’ve gotten is the fact that I am so aware of what works the best because I am a woman. I approach my subjects in a way that I preferably would like to be shot, and I’ve done so much fashion based work in the past that I’m also aware of what works product-wise. I’ve been told that I put pretty much everyone I work with at ease in front of my camera and even when we’re not chatting or drinking (yes, definitely happens!) or changing behind the scenes. First and foremost, I want everyone to be comfortable, since frankly, blogging is a form of modeling and it can be awkward to be photographed if you aren’t experienced or haven’t had much camera time.
What’s your favorite lens for fashion photography, and what kind of camera do you use?
Definitely my Canon 85mm 1.2 L series. I use a Canon 5d but am looking to upgrade in the next few months. It works for web use, but would like to have larger files for print work since my clientele is starting to request and ask for it, and it’s is often featured in magazines as well.
What quick tip would you suggest to bloggers to get the most out of their photo shoots?
Experiment with angles, try every direction! Shoot from the left, shoot from the right and definitely experiment with light. I preferably shoot either early morning or a few hours right before the sun goes down. I usually don’t like to shoot mid-day because the sun is at it’s highest & it’s not the most flattering light. Also even though the weather is getting colder, fall & winter has the best light! Take advantage & explore new locations, look for texture in your background and don’t be afraid to play with angles and HAVE FUN!