Fashion photographer in the fast lane – Roanoke Times

Andrew Day didn’t set out to be a fashion photographer. In fact, the 28-year-old Patrick Henry High School graduate, started out working as a lifeguard on the Outer Banks before his sister, Christy, a set stylist, talked him into trying his hand at professional photography.

He moved to New York City in 2012 with no experience at fashion shoots. A year later, he was behind the scenes at the Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show, snapping the official backstage photos. He’s calmly professional about a task that seems like a dream assignment for any red-blooded male, which might be part of why they gave him the job.

The fashion show is hardly his only shoot. He’s shot ad campaigns in Argentina and Spain, taken pictures of singers like M.I.A. and Miguel, and numbers Estee Lauder, Macy’s, Real Simple and Cosmopolitan among his clients. You can see a wide cross-section of what he does at

He managed to answer a few questions for us after the whirlwind of New York Fashion Week.

Q: How did you land a job in New York with no prior experience?

A: After selling everything Craigslist deemed valuable, I bought a plane ticket and moved to New York with a $20 bill, an overused line of credit (or three), and a room in Weehawken (just on the other side of the Lincoln Tunnel) that a college friend and his wife were using as their closet. I’d take the bus into town to look for work and landed a job serving coffee. … I made a staggering $160 in a week and a half, and served not one, but two Sports Illustrated models. They had no idea who I was, obviously. But I was determined to do everything I needed to ensure that one day I’d no longer be bringing them coffee, but photographing them in a studio instead.

In the past two years, I have shot everything from head shots for actors to weddings — while continuing to work on building my portfolio with up-and-coming fashion models. Without a doubt, though, the best experiences and opportunities have come from my willingness to work as part of a team. Working with different crews and photographers has taught me things about human dynamics that I would never have discovered on my own.

Q: Working behind the scenes of the Victoria’s Secret show seems like every guy’s dream come true. What was it really like?

A: Victoria’s Secret is a dream client. They are an incredible brand and have been so kind to me and my work. … The VS Fashion Show as a production has got to be one of the most amazing creations I’ve been a part of. The scale of it is immense — the audience, TV broadcast, musical acts. … The day of, there’s this incredible energy backstage. Everyone, from [veteran Angel] Alessandra Ambrosio to the newest PINK models, was majorly excited. They all knew what hard work it took to get there; no one is ever guaranteed a spot, and therefore everyone is very happy to be included.

Q: How intense is New York Fashion Week?

This season I shot 28 shows in seven days — five shows less than last season. It’s totally intense. I shoot for clients who show all over Manhattan — and the shows are back-to-back. I may be shooting models on the runway at Lincoln Center, then hair and makeup backstage at Milk Studios in Chelsea and off to Grand Central and so on. In that time, so many things happen that are simply out of your control. Models arrive late from previous shows, last minute touch-ups are needed. I shoot every moment in some of the tiniest spaces imaginable. … Sometimes access is easy and sometimes security or interns don’t know who you are, and you get yelled at. That said, I’ve found fashion to have some of the nicest people working in it. Yes, there is a lot of pressure, but we all work hard and, at the end of the day, the nice people trump the prima donnas.

This season, I came in from a job in the Midwest a day or two before the season started and my two interns dove straight into work with me. They traded day and night shifts, and I just worked around the clock. As soon as the last show ended, I went straight out to Malibu to work on a campaign and “recover.” I ordered in, and only went out to go to a spa. OK, and to have some beers with friends.

Q: What was the greatest thing about shooting an ad campaign in Spain?

A: My Spanish clients are amazing! They took me everywhere and showed me as much as we could see in 10 days. Besides getting the job done right, I didn’t have a care in the world. One time, we were headed out to shoot for a few days at a palace in Ecija, and I saw some of my photos on billboards in Seville. … I yelled in excitement and made the driver stop so I could get right out into a busy street and take a photo of one.

Q: Do you ever feel like any of the models you photograph are too skinny?

A: I’ve photographed all types of people, ranging from Olympic athletes to models in their late teens/early 20s to my grandparents.

To me, it’s about projecting a healthy body image, maintaining a healthy lifestyle and being comfortable with who you are as a person. Honestly, not much else matters. We’re all different.


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