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Photographer Feature | David Leslie Anthony

We are very excited to introduce a brilliantly intense, self-taught and very successful Fashion Photographer by the name of David Leslie Anthony to you all today! This is a guy that does his job to the max in every way, this is a guy that gives more than 100% on every shoot he works on and luckily for us, this is a guy that’s a big fan of our tools. David (a born Photographer) is a reflective character, a man with a method in his madness and a gentleman with an amazing eye for detail. Relax and enjoy, David is truly an interesting read!

Good vibes and endless inspiration,
Preset Shop Team


Who is David Leslie Anthony?

Hmmmm…. I think I’ve been spending my entire life trying to answer that question.  I think I’m combination of all my travels, all the places I’ve lived, all the wonderful people I’ve met, all the women who have come in and out of my life and all the photographs I’ve taken. Yet there still is an emptiness.

Where do you call home?

I don’t really call anywhere “home”.  “Home” seems to be whatever market and/or markets I’m working in.  Currently I’m in Chicago, where I’ve been semi-based off and on for the past few years, and working in NYC and L.A.

Are you self taught or schooled?

I’m self-taught.

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What’s your current state of mind?

Content, yet elusive.  Racing, yet calm.  Driven.

What is your secret in keeping a happy balanced life whilst following your passion?

I realized long ago, that you can only see the world through your own eyes, and not try to be everything for everybody.

Do you remember that exact moment when you knew photography was what you had to do?

I was at a beach in Los Angeles back in 1990, shooting a series of photos for a small company called Khaki & Whites.  The budget was like two rolls of film and a sack lunch…..yet I felt an incredible sense of freedom, and I knew I couldn’t be happier doing anything else.

As you look through the viewfinder, what is the most critical moment in the capture of your image?

The emotion, the story within the overall story.  That moment your gut and your heart tell you “it’s right”.



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How would you describe your style?

My style is how I see things.  How I see fashion, how I see women, the loves that I’ve had, the places I’ve been to and lived, the people I’ve met, things both past and present that I’ve seen, life events that I’ve witnessed.  All of that goes into shaping one’s personal “style”, their viewpoint.  How a photograph looks is simply that.  The look.  That will change every season as fashion and life changes.  How you see things…. THAT to me, is a photographer’s style.

What does fashion mean to you?

Wonderful, breathtaking, frivolous, whimsical, dominant.

What photographers from the past or present have influenced you the most?

There are a number of Photographers I admire and respect.  Photographers I’ve been fortunate to have met, worked for as an Assistant, and Photographers whom I’ve studied their work over the years to try and see what they see.  Photographers such as Jean Baptiste Mondino, Guy Bourdin, Helmut Newton, Steven Meisel, Mario Testino, Mario Sorrenti, Patrick Demarchelier, Arthur Elgort, Pamela Hanson, Steven Klein, Nick Knight, Mert & Marcus, Diego Uchitel, and many more.  These Photographers continue to challenge themselves, and they all work for the best magazines and clients.  They are the one’s creating the images the younger Photographers try and copy.

What has been your favorite photo location or session?

Paris. Hands down!

Is there anything you would have done differently during your photographic career?

Be less intense.




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What advice do you have for somebody who wants to pursue photography?

Learn the past, because it is both the past and the present, that create the future.  If you don’t know the past, all you can do is copy the present.  Something I always tell my Assistants, and young Photographers I’ve mentored, is that it takes the same amount of effort to get to the top, as it does the bottom.  Which has the greater rewards?? 

What misconceptions do you think outsiders have about fashion photography?

You mean the “iPhone photographers”?!  Don’t even get me started.

What are the most difficult aspects of professional fashion photography?

Young photographers are under this giant misconception, that when working for a magazine or fashion client, that they can then simply do whatever they want to do.  That all they have to do is shoot trite photos, and the editors will assemble them into a “story”.  Nothing could be further from the truth.  Whether I’m shooting for Italian Vogue, Harper’s Bazaar, British Cosmopolitan, or Marie Claire, I’m shooting to and for, each magazine’s demographics.  I discuss with my Fashion Editor in advance the shoot and style direction, the locations(s), models, crew, etc., and these same Editors are on set/location.  My Editors and their staff fly in from London, from British Cosmo for every shoot.  It is MY job to create the over-all story from what I’ve discussed with the Editor.  MY job to direct the model and get more out of her, than “simply standing there”.  I direct my team of assistants regarding what I want in my light, I oversee the hair and make-up to make sure it is the direction of the magazine.  And while I’m shooting, it is MY job to think about how the shots are going to “play off” each other, within the story.  When composing my shots I have to plan where the magazine copy will run, leaving clear spaces for that.  I have to always think about the size of the magazine and final trim size, so I’m leaving room for cropping, and the loss of .25% around the magazine, and .50% in the gutter.  My Editors will have the make-up and hair direction planned out, and the team has to follow those directives.  My job is to bring something more to the images without forgetting the reader demographics.  Look at any magazine and ad clients, and you’ll see what I’m talking about.  Lastly you need to find some fresh element to bring to the photos.  These Editors are not some 20-somethings producing an online “magazine”, but real Editor’s who have been working for the major print publications.  They are in their 40’s, 50’s, 60’s, 70’s, and there is nothing they have not seen!  Lastly, I ALWAYS think about what I’m going to do in post, and how I want the final images to look like AT the time of shooting.  I write things down, I keep notebooks.

What’s the most important thing you want potential clients to know about you?

I give more than 100% to every shoot I work on.  I think beyond the current assignment, and think of all the other aspects the photographs can be used to promote the clients products.





If you could be invisible for one day with your camera…

Never have thought about that.

What type of cameras do you shoot with?

I have 17, so pick one.  For smaller format I work with both Canon and Nikon.  Both camera systems are great systems, and the only real difference I find is the sensor.  Canon is cooler, Nikon warmer.  So in the summer when I want less warmth, I shoot with Canon.  During the winter, Nikon, for the added warmth.  Medium format is usually Mamiya or Hasselblad with both Phase backs or film backs.  I shoot both digital and film depending upon the lead time I have, and the look that I want.

What is your favorite photography accessory, other than your camera?

My iPod shuffle.

If you had to choose one lens which one would it be and why?

50mm 1.2 because I like to work tight, and I move constantly when I’m shooting.  I’m not a big tripod guy.  Everything is handheld.

What is your favorite computer/editing accessory, other than your computer?!

I’m not a big retouching guy when it comes to my work.  I always strive to create 90% of my image in-camera/on-set.  The lighting, colours, etc. that you see in my work was achieved on set/in-camera.  Other than that, I’d say my Wacom tablet.

Are you a MAC or PC guy?


How important is Photoshop in your final images?

I use Photoshop to clean up skin tones, blemishes, etc.  Much like what I did in the darkroom.  Boosting contrast, etc.

Cos we just have to ask…!! 😉 What is your favourite +PS tool?? And how has it improved workflow time?

Wow, I can’t name just one because ALL the PS Tools are wonderful in their own regard.  I do things a little differently with the PS Tools.  I think about what I want the final images to look like before doing any retouching.  After downloading my cards, I’ll get rid of the images I don’t like in Lightroom.  Then I pull the images into Photoshop to do my retouching, getting the images how I want them.  Lastly, I pull the images back into Lightroom and make several copies.  I then gradually add my layer effects, achieving the colour tones and gradations I desire. I love the PS Tools because they think like how I think, and you can do much more than “simply slap a filter” on the image!  That allows you to truly create your own looks within the PS Tools.

Do you  maintain a studio or do you rent one when needed?

80% of what I shoot is on location, so I rent studios when needed.

Photography pet hates and why?

I don’t know why people keep asking me this, but here goes…

  1. Young Photographers who consider themselves a “legend in their own mind”, when they have achieved nothing in their “careers”.   For example, I read a posting on Facebook where a young “photographer” announced herself “I’m just learning, but I think I’m pretty awesome.  I work really cheap”.  Yeah, just fills you with confidence.  Another bloated ego in the making.  The Top photographers don’t sit around telling everyone “how wonderful they are”.  They work hard at what they do, and let their photographs do the talking.  I was on a shoot in NYC, and I was in one studio, Albert Watson in another, and Christopher Mcaud in another.  The three of us were sitting having coffee in the studio lounge, and not one of them spoke about “how awesome they were, how great their work was”.  Here I was sitting with two true legends in the industry, and they were the nicest, most down-to-earth professionals you could imagine!  It’s funny how the young, seek out other young for “approval”, so they can validate each other on how much they DON’T know.
  2. Overly retouched work.  You have a model “simply standing there”, same light as in all the work, and the photo has been retouched to death.  Ok, strip away the Photoshop work, and what do you have?  Another boring photo of a model “simply standing there”.  Yawn.
  3. Photos that have been done, done, and redone.  Yes, things in fashion come around again in cycles, however, this does not mean you simply copy what has already been done, then call yourselves “artsy”.  People on Facebook might be “impressed”, however those who have been in the business much longer than you, have seen and done more than you, will NOT be impressed in the least.  Case in point:  How many photos of a Rose in a Girls mouth, and girl sitting in a bathtub, do we need to see?
  4. To me, there is no such thing as “old school/new school”.  There is only one school, and that is knowing photography.  Knowing how to light, how to expose, how to create, etc.  How to create work that, whether it be digital or analog, does not need to be worked in Photoshop to be a good photograph!  Learn these things, and Photoshop, and the PS Tools will be a viable tool to enhance your work.





Do you play music whilst shooting? If so, what are you digging right now?

I’m very eclectic.  I listen to everything from Opera, to house, to Tupac on my iPod when shooting.  I always make special playlists that are relevant to the theme I’m shooting.

What five words would your friends use to describe you?

I don’t know.  You should ask them.. LOL

What five words would your clients use to describe you?

I think that is better left to the letter from my Fashion Editor at British Cosmo…

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What lies ahead for David Leslie Anthony?

I’m actually thinking of wintering in Dallas.  They have some great models down there, and I’ll be central to the markets I work in.  Miami to the right, L.A to the left, and NYC and Chicago straight up. Plus the airport does not get snowed in during the winter.

Website:  www.davidanthonyphotographer.com

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