Anthony Turano is a world renowned fashion photographer based out of Montreal. He's been working in the field for over ten years and is now one of the most influential names within the industry.
You've probably seen his work in and around our city. Anthony shot for Levi's, Dynamite, Garage, Hudson's Bay and other big brands that you're most definitely familiar with. Between New York, Miami, Toronto and other fashion capitals, I was lucky enough to catch Anthony today and ask him a few questions about the mysterious, yet fascinating world of fashion.
1. What does it take to become a successful photographer in Montreal?
I think it takes the same thing in Montreal as It does anywhere else in the world. Which is not just skill. Lots of people have skill. There are so many talented photographers in Montreal, both new to the game and professionals with many years of experience. I think being successful is about talent, yes, but also attitude, and how you sell yourself.
As a photographer, especially when you are starting out, you have to be your own accountant, marketing manager, agent and everything else. It’s extremely hard, and extremely competitive. You want to set yourself apart from the rest. As much as we do this because its our art and our passion, we do this for a living also.
2. How did you get where you are today? Describe your path.
My education was in an unrelated field. When I realized that was not the path I wanted to take, I stopped and started working as a retoucher for a marketing company. I never went to school for retouching either, it was just something I taught myself since I was about 15 years old. Working on the photographs of other photographers gave me the urge to try it out myself.
So in 2002 I worked as a retoucher for another 3 years while I started my photography business on the side, working nights, weekends and even my vacation days. I eventually got to the point where I could take the leap and try photography full time. In 2005 I quit my day job and have’t looked back since.
Around 2007/2008 I started traveling for my work, between Toronto, Miami and New York, and of course Montreal. This, I feel, was the game changer for me. Getting recognition outside of your own city if a big part in being successful in this business. I am now represented by FH Studio and shoot outside of Montreal almost once a month and travel to those 4 cities regularly. My plans are to expand to L.A. in 2016 and see what that will bring.
3. What are the main challenges in this particular career path?
I think most of the main challenges, especially in Montreal, is that now-a-days there are probably about 10 times more photographers than, lets say, 15 years ago. This creates more competition and less jobs per photographer. It’s just math really. So the challenge is to stand out, not worry about what everyone else is doing and focus on always bettering yourself. If you have what it takes, the clients will notice and the phone will ring.
4. Has being surrounded by gorgeous models ever caused issues/jealousy in your personal life? If so, how do you deal with it?
The key is to surround yourself with people that trust you, and respect what you do. Most people that are not in the industry will comment on that aspect of my job. In reality, to me the models are as important as the makeup artists, stylists or even the agents that I book them through. They are just part of the team, like a colleague.
5. What do you consider a “good model”?
For me a good model is not “just a pretty face and good body”. It’s about being all around professional, punctual, respectful, fun to work with and motivated. I’ve been spoiled for a good portion of my career. I have worked with some amazing models from local agencies like Next, Folio and Montage, and agencies outside the city and country such as Wilhelmina Miami & New York, Ford, Elite and Sutherland. And of course the amazing girls from Chantale Nadeau. The kinds of models that you don’t have to direct and they can just make magic. A models attitude on set effects everyone. She can single handedly change the mood and vibe of not only the photos, but the mood on set.
6. What would your advice be to photographers who look up to you as an example?
I’m always a little hard on myself, so I would say look elsewhere, haha, but I would just tell them, do your absolute best every day. Concentrate on outdoing yourself everyday and not who you consider competition. I always say, don’t get into photography for the money, get into it because you love it. If you start thinking of money and competition and who is doing what, it will consume you. That energy is better spent on bettering yourself.
Photo cred - Anthony Turano
7. How do you stay relevant in such a competitive and ever-changing business?
I honestly don’t make a conscious effort to “stay relevant”. My mentality is to always better myself. I have not stopped thinking that way since the first time I picked up my camera.
I find the weakness in most photographers (myself included) is that we get to a point in our career and skill level that we like, we get a lot of great feedback on it and we stay there. You get known for something and its a good feeling, but in a world where media, news and images change so quickly, you’re just a scroll away from people getting bored of your “signature look”. So my own personal goal with myself has always been to be versatile. Always changing while keeping a hint of my style in all my work.
8. What inspires you the most?
Movies and TV is a big place where I look for inspiration. The lighting, the concepts, they are all so vivid and just something I love. I sometimes get inspired by lighting. I will see how light hits a certain surface and plan a shoot around it.
9. If you had a choice between a boring project that pays very well or an exciting passion piece with a very low pay, which would you choose? Why?
Hmmm, thats a tough one, simply because this is my job, yes I love it but like everyone else I have bills to pay. And honestly I could not have lasted 14+ years if I found some jobs boring. One of the things I love about my job is that every day is different. Shooting super creative projects every day would be mentally exhausting. You need those so called, boring shoots, to balance. And they are only boring if you see them that way. I can plan creative shoots any time I want, so in my case the paid job would come first.
10. What’s the most memorable photo shoot that you ever worked on and what made it so special?
I get asked this a lot. I think what makes a shoot memorable is not the result but the experience. The team you work with etc. So that being said I would have to say one of my most memorable shoots I did was for Aqua Di Lara swimwear, shot in Aruba (a small island off the coast of Venezuela). It was one of the most beautiful places I had ever seen, the team , client and crew were all amazing and we had a blast shooting down there. The result wasn’t too bad either :)