In striving to become a better photographer and business owner, I’m always trying to learn more about how others have found their way to success. I recently had the chance to speak with Natasha Gerschon about her journey. Gerschon was more than happy to share.
A Bit of Background
Gerschon, originally from Argentina, lives and works in Toronto, Canada. Gerschon is one of Canon Canada’s ambassadors and shoots for a number of local and international fashion and beauty brands.
Gerschon’s work is marked as much by its allegiance to the fantastical as it is by the interesting ways she uses pseudo-multimedia looks. I find that her adherence to her own surreal style in even her commercial / campaign work to be refreshing. Not only does Gerschon use her personal style to attract clients, but she manages to convince them to come along for the ride without toning down her productions.
Personal Style Leads to Clients
Dreams as Inspiration
Given my admiration for Gerschon’s style, I asked where her inspiration comes from. Gerschon explained to me that most of her inspiration comes from her dreams. Don’t think that Gerschon looks at her dreams as some kind of mystical or unstructured moment. She realizes that her dreams come from her daily experiences and, to keep the creativity flowing, she spends a lot of her time consciously consuming images and other sensual inputs like smells and tastes. Gerschon also spends time thinking about shooting in different locations. To her, her dreams are a way for her to organize these inputs into inspiration.
Shooting to Attract Clients
Once inspiration has struck, Gerschon shoots her personal work in a way that will directly appeal to a client that she wants to work for. Going even further, Gerschon will have her creative shoot stylists pull from a particular designer she is targeting. Putting her style together with the designer’s own work is often enough to persuade a designer to hire her.
Most of the work I get comes from my creative work.
For example, Gerschon wanted to work with Lucian Matis for years. Pulling together a creative that featured Matis’ designs in her style was a quick way to connect. Now she shoots for Matis. To quote Gerschon, she does this to “manifest work.”
I told [the stylist] to pull from Lucian, I was trying to attract his attention. When I heard his voice [after he saw the creative], he was so excited. I knew. I like to work with creative people.
Keep Meeting People
Aside from turning personal inspiration into commercial campaigns, Gerschon is also unrelenting when it comes to meeting and collaborating with other creatives.
Work With Chronic Ink
I was struck by the images currently topping of her gallery page and asked how the inspiration for this work came about.
It turns out that the images are part of commissioned artwork series for Chronic Ink, in collaboration with Xue Liang. The goal was to create work to decorate Chronic’s studios. Gerschon initially met Liang when she was a student at OCAD. When they met, they talked extensively about shoot ideas that could feature Liang’s designs. Once Liang graduated, together they sold the idea to Chronic. It may seem like a given, but every so often we need to be reminded that making the effort to seek out new relationships with creatives can turn into work. Even at worse, these relationships can help to drive creativity.
A little bit of an aside, Gerschon and I talked about the religious iconography in the images and she explained that the mood board contained a lot of religious paintings.
In a similar vein, Gerschon made an effort while she was still studying to meet other creatives at school. Having met a makeup artist in training, Gerschon, herself a photographer in training, photographed the MUA’s work. By the end of the year, word of mouth saw Gerschon shooting almost the entire MUA class’s work.
A year later, Gerschon was receiving calls from makeup companies to shoot their campaigns.
A Lesson to Learn
I realize that this recipe to success may seem a bit arbitrary. Hard work, collaboration, and a bit of luck, especially the luck part, aren’t always easily replicated. I understand that luck is clearly out of anyone’s control, but, hard work and collaboration aren’t. If you can’t control the portion of luck you get, you may as well control the portion of hard work you deliver and collaboration you seek out.
It can be a small world. I was very lucky to work with well known people. And they were happy with my work and they would spread the word about who shot their sets.
All images used with the permission of Natasha Gerschon