BL Creator Interview – Gail Job

Gail Job is a NYC-based fashion photographer who specializes in editorial and fine jewelry with a love for 35mm film and polaroids. Her work is inspired by natural light and the colors & textures of places she visits.

Her work has been published in British Vogue, Forbes, L’Officiel Arabia, Thrasher Magazine, Vogue Italia, Moda Operandi, Porter Magazine, National Jeweler, Ladygunn and more.

About BL Creators
BL Creators is a series of content pieces where we get personal with industry pros like photographers, cinematographers, creative directors and producers, among many other creative fields.

Discover more Creators here.

Gail Job for BorrowLenses

1. Is there a single project, photo or video that thrusted you into the next level? 

I don’t think it was a particular project but the pandemic really presented a unique opportunity to sit with my thoughts and really ask myself what kind of career I wanted to build. I was working a full-time e-commerce photographer job at Net-a-Porter and decided that I wanted to create my own schedule, be my own boss and create a life outside of the 9-5 norm. Before this job, I was working 9-5 in the music industry distributing royalties for songwriters. Quite the opposite of a creative role but I was afraid to leave the structure or 9-5 and lose benefits.

After working as a photographer in ecommerce, I knew I wanted creativity and I was seeking something unconventional. I wanted to run my own business so that’s what I did. I think after I began shooting for fine jewelry clients, I found my niche that gave me the ability to create my own business and take my career to the next level.

2. What is one trade secret you are willing to share with the public?

Get on social media, slide into DM’s, make yourself known. Do not be afraid to put yourself out there. The best way to make yourself visible is simply to get in touch directly with those you want to work with!

3. How do you stay creative? What are things you do to get inspired?

I try to shoot a creative personal project at least once a month. I like to check out magazines and see the latest campaigns. Typically though, my favorite way to get inspired and stay creative is exploring new surroundings. I love to travel to new towns and see the main streets, and the architecture. It usually gives me a fun idea to shoot down the line.

4. Do you feel threatened by all the chatter about Artificial Intelligence and imagemaking? What are your thoughts about the future of the industry?

No. I don’t feel threatened by the idea of Artificial Intelligence and advanced technologies that could potentially get rid of occupations such as photography or video because at the end of the day, shooting photography isn’t just technical; it is also about human connection and emotion. I feel these elements are the key to powerful imagery.

5. Who are some notable people that you learned from? What did you learn?

I followed photographers like Emily Soto, Lara Jade, and Jamie Nelson and admired their work. I attended photography workshops when I could afford them but I also learned a lot from notable podcasts out there such as the Jasmine Star Show, Marie Forleo, and Amy Porterfield’s Marketing made Easy podcast.

Working with other creatives in the industry such as stylists, makeup artists, and hair stylists have really also helped hone in on my skills through collaboration. When I began shooting photography 8 years ago, the only way I could build my portfolio was by shooting as much as I could. I spent the better half of my photography career shoot producing editorials, bringing teams together, and creating moldboards that are now so helpful in my business today when working with clients.

6. When and how did you know you wanted to be an artist?

Ever since I could remember, I always had a camera in my hand. From an early age of maybe 10/11, I was that friend with a disposable 35mm camera capturing every moment. I grew up exploring different avenues of art such as singing, drama class, playing piano and guitar but none of them ever stood with me the way photography did.

7. Please share recent work that you are most proud of. Why is this important to you?

One of my favorite projects I shot at the moment would be my SS 2022 campaign for this brand Emily P Wheeler. Emily showed me an editorial in Vogue from the 90s and told me she wanted to recreate the exact mood for her newest collection and shoot the entire thing in a vintage 1960s Ford Bronco. Since this was a fine jewelry campaign and we knew the focus had to be jewelry, I had to think of ways we could light this for the jewelry and keep the exact mood of that editorial. I had such a great team involved and we shot the entire shoot with 3 models in Los Angeles in this car. It was definitely one of the most creative shoots I have gotten to do and I got to shoot video for the first time which was exciting too!

8. What is some bad advice you hear given in your field?

This is a tough one because what I may find as bad advice can definitely be subjective. I had been told that a freelance career is not sustainable if you want a family and stability and you should only just freelance while you’re young and just get it out of your system. I think this is way off base because while freelance or self employment is not as safe as a 9-5 job, it’s also one that’s worth going after. To be a business owner or even a freelance creative, you do have to hustle a bit, and your schedule is completely different from day to day. Sometimes you may even have a slower month; but this doesn’t mean that you can’t build a life worth living and create while making the same kind of income someone in a corporate job would. I believe if you are passionate and hardworking, it will be rewarding. To me, this kind of opinion or advice is telling a creative to stay in their comfort zone. Staying in our comfort zone means stunting our growth and potential. So why follow the norm?

9. What is something that you always have on set? Why?

An extra tether cord and an SD card! Always good to have backup. I can’t tell you how many times I have needed to use them! It’s so essential to have back up equipment in case things go wrong. I try to also keep back up cameras on set too if needed. I also love to keep a polaroid camera on set. It’s a fun way to interact with the team and see some image in print as we shoot!

10. What is the most under-rated skill in your field? What is the most over-rated?

I think the most underrated skill in my field would be composition. What I often hear from clients specifically to jewelry is that while they have worked with great photographers, they can never convey the jewelry as the number 1 focus in their image. Size and scale is everything when you’re shooting for product. The crop tool is your best friend. You might look at an image and think there’s nothing there, but think about your angles, cropping it in an interesting way to make it feel elevated but also directing your eye to the main focus. Shoot from below at an awkward angle, try different techniques, it makes for more interesting images! This kind of skill applies to any kind of photography I believe.

I think technical knowledge is an overrated skill in the industry. I don’t mean from a lighting perspective and knowing how to shoot manually in your camera. You should absolutely learn and continue to grow by understanding how to control light/how to use equipment. But I mean the kind of photographers who obsess over having the best and top notch equipment right at the start of their careers. If you are just starting out, you don’t need to invest in thousands of dollars of equipment. My first camera was a canon 6d- it was an entry level full frame but even before that, I shot a few editorials on a canon t3i! I paired it with a 50mm 1.8 Lens and whenever possible, I rented new equipment. I focused on learning how to shoot and master my craft with the tools I could afford at that point in my career. If I was ready to try something new, renting gear was my go to. Instead, I learned about composition and light with the basic necessities. You can create great imagery while adhering to a budget.

11. What is something people in your field should try to avoid?

Having a bad attitude on sets. You should be kind to everyone involved in a shoot. You are part of a team creating a vision from start to finish. Don’t be competitive or compare yourselves to other creatives in your field. Everyone has their own path, don’t be afraid to learn from those ahead of you or to share your resources with others trying to learn more. Community is everything when it comes to this industry.

12. Do you listen to music while shooting? If so, what do you listen to? Can you share a playlist with us?

I love to listen to anything on Spotify. I often ask my models on set if they have a preference. If I am told no, I will be most certainly playing any Disco playlist. You will hear a lot of Abba, Donna Summers, and anything from the 70’s in my studio! 

Here are some of my favorites!

13. Who is someone you would like to spotlight for the audience?

My assistant Chloe, runs around the country with me and on many different photo sets. She is also a photographer and gets to experience different shoots daily. She is someone who I met last year that I really admire her grind and urge to create with other creatives out there nearly daily. @chloegaget @chlosups33 is her BTS account. For someone just starting out and looking to assist, you can see first hand account of what set life looks like.

14. Anything you wish to share with the world wide web?

Do not be afraid to start over. In my time as a photographer, I have started over twice. The first time was while working a full time job in the music industry and deciding to be a photographer, the second time when deciding I didn’t need to work in a corporate environment and I could be my own boss. Entrepreneurship is very rewarding. It has its’ own challenges but in those challenges is where you find powerful growth. Try new things, test new lighting ideas, test new gear, get inspired. Don’t stay in your comfort zone.

NYC based fashion photographer who specializes in editorial and fine jewelry with a love for 35mm film and polaroids.

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BorrowLenses is an online camera gear rental service that started in the San Francisco Bay Area in 2007. We offer a wide selection of camera gear ranging from camera bodies, lenses, lighting and accessories. We make it easy to rent gear by shipping your order straight to you.