Endurance Yusuf is an Abuja-based photographer with a deep passion for fashion photography. In this interview with Daily Trust on Sunday, Yusuf shares tips and tricks it takes to be a fashion photographer.
Tell us about your background and what drew you to specialize in fashion editorials?
My name is Endurance Yusuf. I was born in the early 90s, in Kontagora Local Government Area of Niger State, Nigeria. I was raised by my Edo parents (a high school teacher mother and businessman father) with four siblings. I spent the most part of my childhood and early adulthood in Kontagora before NYSC took me to Kano State where I began practicing photography. After my NYSC, I decided it was time to relocate to Abuja in search of a better life. Early 2019, I landed a job in one of the commercial banks as a direct sales agent. In 2021, I decided to quit my job as I wasn’t performing as a sales agent. I went into photography full time. At the time, I would photograph anything and everything just so I could pay my bills and avoid staying hungry. As I began to grow in my craft, I started to develop more interest in fashion and editorial photography because it gives me the freedom to experiment with set designs and lighting.
What inspired you to become a fashion editorial photographer, and how did you get started in the industry?
I would say my love for connection, people, set design and light are the guiding principles that inspired me to becoming a fashion/editorial and portrait photographer. I got started in the industry with the help of a few people who were genuinely interested in seeing me through my journey.
What’s your creative process when planning and executing a fashion editorial shoot?
My creative process always begins with a lot of brainstorming. During this process, I put every idea on the table no matter how silly it might seem. Sometimes, I write down a list of how I intend to do the project. Furthermore, I do a lot of research about the project at hand. This helps me show up with so much confidence to execute on the project.
How do you stay updated with current fashion trends and styles to incorporate them into your work?
One thing about me is I believe in reinventing myself, and one of the easiest ways I do that is keeping up with latest trends, learning new stuff from people who have been in the industry earlier and known for excellence.
Can you share some of your favourite fashion editorial projects or collaborations and explain why they were significant to you?
One of my favourite fashion projects is the one I did for @amyok_official. This was my first international client and she gave me all the creative freedom I needed. That single project opened so many doors in getting more fashion look-book gigs. Another favourite project is the one with @flauntarchive.
How do you go about selecting the models, stylists and makeup artists for your editorial shoots?
I like working with experienced models, hairstylists and makeup artists. So far, I’ve been able to get a team of people I like to work with when it comes to my editorial jobs and personal projects.
What equipment and camera gear do you prefer to use for fashion editorial photography, and why?
Usually, I love to shoot with my canon camera and a 70-200mm 2.8 because that’s what I have at the moment. Two strobe light, sometimes more. My reason for using these combinations is because it gives me those bold and detailed images my clients love to see.
Lighting is crucial in fashion photography. Can you discuss your lighting techniques and preferences for different scenarios?
Indeed, lighting is a very crucial part of photography in general. In the context of fashion photography, you have to be very intentional about how you light your subject. For me, I love to shoot soft Rembrandt lighting in almost every situation.
How do you establish a connection and rapport with the models to bring out their best poses and expressions?
Most of the time, I work with models I’m already familiar with – either from Instagram or in real life. So, it’s easy to keep the vibe 100. In situations where I’m not familiar with the model/models, I just introduce myself first as the captain for the day and I’ll assure her/them that they’re in safe hands. This most times brightens the mood and gives room for further discussion prior to the shoot. And during the shoot, I always compliment the model. This gives them the morale to keep the poses coming – works like magic.
Fashion editorials often involve unique locations or studio setups. Can you share an example of a challenging location or concept you’ve worked with and how you overcame it?
One of the most challenging locations I’ve found myself shooting a look-book was in the client’s showroom. The space was a bit small and it was very difficult to get my lighting right. After so much trial and errors and I said to myself: “E-Classic you’ve got this.” I did some minor adjustments here and there and at the end of the day the images came out great.
Post-production is an essential part of fashion photography. What software and editing techniques do you use to enhance your photos while maintaining a natural look?
My go-to editing softwares remain Capture One pro and Photoshop. I use Capture One for colour correction and or minor adjustments. I use Photoshop for retouching and other necessary adjustments such as Liquify.
How do you handle the pressure and tight deadlines that are often associated with the fashion editorial industry?
Overtime, I’ve been able to discipline myself to work when I’m supposed to work and rest when my body needs it. Whenever I work and rest in between, I feel refreshed to work more.
Can you describe a situation in which you had to adapt to unexpected changes or challenges during a fashion editorial shoot and how you managed to overcome them?
Sometime ago, I was booked for a look-book session. I tried to know who the model was and if she knew her onions prior to the shoot. For whatever reasons, they kept avoiding the questions and then the client showed up with someone who had absolutely zero knowledge about modeling. It was such an awkward experience. You could see the displeasure in my countenance but I had to call the model aside and spoke some motivational words to her and it worked. We got near-desire results at the end of the day; not the best results, but we made something out of it.
Fashion photography is a collaborative effort. How do you communicate and coordinate with the rest of the creative team to ensure a successful shoot?
I always make it known to everyone on set that I’m not perfect. If you have other opinions that would yield successful outcomes, say it. I’m open to learning more.
What trends do you foresee in fashion editorial photography, and how do you plan to evolve and stay relevant in the industry?
So far, I think there’s going to be an obsession with ‘90s’ minimalism and I intend to remain relevant through the means of learning and unlearning.