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 field, 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?
It is probably cheating to say eclectic, but that is the most accurate word I can think of. If I could, I would wear dresses and high heels every day of my life, and often I do, but generally I believe in patterns (especially floral), lots of bright colors, flowy things, jewelry, and good pairs of jeans and overalls.
What interested you in becoming a part of the Couture USA Team?
At any given time, there is a pile of old fashion magazines somewhere in my room that I could just look at over and over again. The opportunity to work with the clothing and accessories that I admire in those pages was very appealing, especially getting to incorporate them into 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 of the posts that I do for the blog and Instagram the most because I get to be a little more creative when putting together outfits and arrangements of my favorite pieces versus the straight product photography. Everyone who works here has become my model at least once and I love bouncing ideas off of each of them about styling. I do all of the shooting, but there are definitely instances where it is a team effort to put something together.
Who is your favorite designer?
If I said one designer was my favorite today, I would probably change my mind tomorrow! I really enjoy a lot of the Chloe and Stella McCartney pieces that come through the store and those are two designers I hadn’t had too much exposure to prior to working here. I don’t think I had ever touched a Chanel or Louis Vuitton bag before working here and I now own two Louis Vuitton pieces and pair of Chanel pants.
Lydia's designer wish list includes:
How would you describe your creative process for creating content for the website and our social media accounts?
When I’m not sticking to a seasonal theme, I often get inspired by the items as I photograph them. I’ll have a few bags lined up that happen to make a great color palette and I’ll run with it or I see a bag and think about what kind of person would carry it and then 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.
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?
In addition to just taking photos all of the time, I would say to always push yourself to shoot in different lighting conditions. It is very easy if you shoot in the studio 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.