Shayna Colvin is a photographer from Orange County, California. She is currently based in Savannah, Georgia while she attends The Savannah College of Art and Design. She is pursuing a BFA in Photography. Shayna is young but has already started her career as a successful fashion photographer working with clients such as Urban Outfitters and Nylon Magazine amongst others. Today we share a selection of Shayna’s work along with an interview about her thoughts on life and photography, and what to do after college.
So I can’t help but notice that you are only 21 years old but you are already working with big name clients and even taking on lead shooter assignments this early in your career. How does that feel and how do you think you got to this point so quickly?
Well I started developing my style early on growing up in Orange County, California. I just started shooting as much as possible before college and relied heavily on social media to get my name out there. Urban outfitters actually found me through my Tumblr account.. But it wasn’t really until after arriving in Savannah to attend SCAD in 2013 that I started taking photography seriously. Before that it was all just for fun. I was shooting with film and just learning on my own. Once at school I converted to digital and realized I could start making more professional work.
Why Art School and why the East Coast?
Well I have been riding horses and competing in Equestrian competitions since I was eleven. SCAD has a very large and successful Equestrian program and my mom helped me to find out about this. So I came to check out the program and immediately fell in love with Savannah, it’s hard not to. I also wanted to go far away from home for college as a lot of young adults decide to do. Growing up on the west coast was great but I felt like I needed a change of scenery while attending college. Also school sucks in general so I figured that since I enjoy being creative, art school might be naturally more enjoyable for me.
You have a very cohesive aesthetic in both your photographs and your personal lifestyle. I remember the first time I saw you in town, you were wearing bell bottoms, converse, and an ascot with a leather jacket. I don’t think I have ever seen you stray from these wardrobe choices, and your photographs seem to recreate this timeless look as well. Can you talk about that a little bit?
Well I think that my photographs mimic my personal aesthetic choices because I try very hard to style all of my own shoots. I enjoy styling almost as much as photographing. I also always want my photographic work to be a bit different and today most artists are working with very new and contemporary clothing lines and very minimal high fashion styles, I tend to do the opposite. My photoshoots look like they could be from 2016 or 1978 and I enjoy that about my work. As far as my personal wardrobe, I actually sort of adopted these styling choices once I got to college. I feel like most kids go through a serious lifestyle change once arriving in college.
What else do you enjoy shooting besides fashion and lifestyle?
Nothing! I only enjoy shooting and styling fashion and lifestyle projects. I can’t explain why, but everything else just seems kind of boring to me. I really enjoy working with people and making portraits, so fashion work kind of naturally fits with me. Landscapes don’t excite me the way working with models does. Its also very much about the process behind the scene. I enjoy creating something instead of finding it. From the clothing to the location to the people, creating something with a team is very rewarding and something I am very passionate about. I have also been trying to improve my ability to create characters and tell a story through some of the projects and assignments I have worked on.
What’s next after school?
I have no interest in going back to school after this. A Master’s degree is not something I think would benefit my career. So after school I want to become a freelance shooter. I enjoy all aspects of a photoshoot, but I enjoy being behind the camera most. So I would like to focus on being a freelance photographer and have the ability to travel for work. Who doesn’t want to get paid to travel? As far as location, I am not sure yet. I enjoy New York but not enough to live there. So maybe I could be based out of New York for a few months of the year? Everyone tells me that my work is “Soooo California” and that I need to move back to the West Coast. But I am not sure if that’s what I want either. Luckily I have a little bit of time to keep thinking about it before graduation.
So in my opinion you are the definition of an emerging photographer. What advice would you give to other photographers who are hoping to make a name for themselves?
I think that right now we are experiencing a generation of social media and it is important to embrace this fact. I use various platforms daily to keep an online presence and to keep my inspiration relevant to what is popular in contemporary photography. Using Instagram is an obvious choice for any photographer as it is a platform dedicated to visual imagery. Tumblr is also great because big name photographers and companies are looking at tumblr to find new work and new photographers to work with.
I also try and use models that are not only relevant to my work, but relevant to the contemporary model scene. If you work with models who are successful and have a good reputation, they will help to get your name out there. It’s not all about how popular the model is, but it is certainly a bonus factor.
To view more of Shayna’s work, please visit her website.