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Up & Down – The Travails of a Newcomer in Fashion Photography is Beyond Luck

After months of planning an editorial, one of my stylist has pulled out due to the lack of certainty over its publication. Today feels like failure because of this knock-back. Uncertainty abounds and perhaps I dumped my advancing career prematurely for something I never practiced beyond a hobby.

You see, she is an award winning stylist, published in magazines, has celebrity clientele and recently returned from a successful outing at the Cannes Film Festival. Collaborating with someone so advanced in the industry at an early stage in my career is rare. I get that. I’m told I should feel lucky to have bagged a high profile talent — except I do not believe in luck.

Luck is merely a fabricated belief system and to believe in it is to pessimistically agree a nebulous force has control over your life. True, our will is free to choose very little that is not already predetermined by past decisions. Our tastes, sexuality, choice of clothes, are all fed by our genes and environment. Attributing this to luck however, is to turn a blind eye to the chain of events and the gift of personal responsibility. 

The part that feels unfair? That’s when these choices are out of our control. 

To fail an exam is not bad luck; one simply fails because of poor study (or another extraneous event’s influence). The corollary is to have studied and state that passing the exam was due to luck.

The harder I practice, the luckier I get…

The optimist in me accepts determinism, that tomorrows events are in our hands today. Continuing with the analogy, the stylist agreed to work with me because they believed my talent was worth the investment (their words, not mine). A product of hours of work, commitment, learning and dedication. Luck just doesn't factor.

Sure, knock-backs feel like failure; positive affirmation feels like success. I have days on fashion shoots where I feel like Steven Meisel or Garry Winogrand after hours shooting street. And there are disappointments where I wonder if I had made the right choice. Neither are true measures of success or failure. A career in photography — collaborating with a variety of people — is an up and down struggle, and these should be no more than momentary reflections on one’s career progress

I have come to accept progress is not achieved in leaps and bounds, but rather piecemeal and at a snails pace, and is horribly grating for an impatient soul like me. Yet the last couple of months I have climbed a few rungs on the ladder, and when I reflect soberly on my work I can see the improvements, and thats where the real satisfaction lies. 


Mehmet Hassan