In the business of designer retail, it goes without question that looks are absolutely everything! From detailed product shots to coming up with thumbs-up worthy content for our blog and social media handles, the creation of visual content is crucial to creating the WOW factor that catches the eyes of our customers and requires a great deal of patience and inherent creativity. In house photographer and web designer Lydia Challenger is not new to the world of art and design. Developing a passion for capturing the moment at an early age, Challenger graduated from the University of Florida with a BFA in Art with a concentration in photography. She has worked in various sectors of creative fields, from shooting weddings and dance performances to digitally restoring old photos and negatives. In this feature of the Couture USA Team profile series, we sit down with Challenger who gives us further insight to her background and creative process, even sharing some words of wisdom to the aspiring photographer!
What sparked your interest in photography?
My sister and I got matching cameras for our birthdays when I was about 8 years old and I immediately fell in love. I shot 35mm film and the rolls would pile up on our kitchen counter until my mom would take them all to be developed. It would be so exciting to get those negatives back and I still feel that way each time I sift through a batch of images after a shoot. There are always a few gems in each group that I am really proud of.
How would you describe your wardrobe style?
I would wear evening gowns and high heels every day of my life if I could, but realistically my style is more like young professional meets a field of wildflowers. I believe in lots of patterns (especially floral), bright colors, dresses for every occasion, heirloom jewelry, and good pairs of jeans.
What interested you in becoming a part of the Couture USA team?
At any given time, there is a pile of old fashion magazines in my room that I could look at over and over again. Getting to work with the clothing and accessories that I admire in those pages has been a dream. My favorite thing is mixing our inventory into the Couture USA team's individual styles to create mini lifestyle shoots for our social media accounts, which if you are reading this and you don’t follow yet please do!
What are your favorite pieces to shoot?
I enjoy all the posts that I do for the blog and Instagram the most because I get to move away from my white backdrop and let my creativity run wild. My coworkers are my favorite subjects and they have quickly become the stars of our social media pages. We each have such unique styles and have a blast working together to accessorize with our inventory. I hope seeing bags and jewelry in the context of an entire outfit helps to inspire our customers to create their own. Be sure to tag us when you do!
Who is your favorite designer?
It's so hard to pick just one! I think I have loved every Chloe bag that we've gotten during my 3 years at Couture so that is definitely in the running. I am also a huge Epi leather Louis Vuitton fan and carry my brown Noe bag almost every day.
How would you describe your creative process for creating content for the website and our social media accounts?
Most often, I am sticking to a seasonal or sale theme, but occasionally I imagine the kind of person that would use each item and try to add accessories or clothes to match that imagined personality. The audience that we cater to is as diverse as our inventory so I try to keep our social media feeds fresh and ever-changing.
Scroll down to shop Lydia's favorites!
Outside of your work, what are some of your favorite places/things to shoot?
Portraits are my absolute favorite. There is no better feeling than taking a photo of someone that makes them feel confident and beautiful. When I see my photos on social media, someone’s refrigerator, or even better, framed on their grandma’s wall, I know I did something good. I have also danced since I was young, so I enjoy doing portraits of dancers and have had the opportunity to photograph many of them in the last few years. It is a wonderful blend of my two favorite things.
What advice would you give to anyone interested in pursuing a career in photography?
Always push yourself to shoot in different lighting conditions. If you shoot in the studio, it is very easy to get comfortable being able to control your lights or, if you are shooting outdoors, to always shoot clients at the same places or at the same time of day. The more you vary your lighting, the more fluidly you’ll adapt to any scenario you encounter going forward. Also, build a portfolio of your best shots and create a website to submit with any job applications. Don't be afraid to ask your fellow creators to take a look and help you refine what you have.
Describe a typical day for you at Couture USA
By the time an item is ready to be photographed, it has already been priced, cleaned, and made photo-ready. I have two different setups, one larger with a mannequin and one smaller table set up that I work with throughout the day. I use Lightroom to keep my files organized and to do much of my editing and color correction. From there, I upload everything to the website for our Online Manager to review and publish. I also check our social media and email analytics each day to see which posts and emails have been most successful in traffic and revenue. I make sure we have at least one post scheduled each day and design and send several emails per week. I can always be found wandering around the shop shooting extra images for social media, making boomerangs with our new arrivals, or asking everyone in the office for their favorite bag to feature in my next email.
Shop Lydia's Top Favorite items here:
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