Test Shoot: Brooklyn based Fashion/Portrait Photographer John Ellis



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John Ellis is a full time fashion/editorial photographer based out of Brooklyn, NY. He has been shooting for roughly 6 years with 3 of them focused on fashion and editorial. How did I meet John Ellis? Contrary to what most people think social media is sociable.... lol. I met John on Facebook close to a year ago i thought he was a white guy from France, if you don't believe me ask him. The reason I found out he was black is because he dropped the N-Bomb and I had to search his profile photos to figure if i should be offended before reacting. From that point we kept constant contact and he was super hospitable when i traveled to Brooklyn, NYC he is very informative and someone I am proud to call my friend. 


Syranno: There are so many areas in photography, why fashion photography?

John Ellis: I have always loved fashion ads well before I ever picked up a camera, I can remember seeing ad campaigns growing up and even into my adult years that just captivated me. So naturally once I picked up a camera it only made sense that I attempt to shoot fashion.  


S: If you weren't doing fashion is there another area of photography that you feel just as strong about? 

JE: That's a tough one, I would have to say portraits will always hold a special place in my heart and in my body of work. I started off shooting portraits and it is something that I don't see myself not ever doing. There is something really magical about meeting someone, forming this unique connection and showing them a different side of themselves. All within the span of a few hours.

S: You came from Richmond, Virginia to Brooklyn, New York what made this decision to uproot your life? 

JE: Like any good story, it started with a girl. One of my close friends and now stylist was living with me in a Richmond. We both knew that in order for us to make anything of our careers we had to leave. So she came to me one afternoon said that we were both moving to NYC and there was nothing I could say to change it. I asked for 90 days to get some stuff in order and she said I had 60. April 1st, 2015 we moved to Bushwick Brooklyn with a couple thousand bucks in our pockets and a dream. Quite possibly the hardest thing I have ever had to do in my life, but I wouldn't change it for anything in the world.

S: How has this decision molded your perception of the fashion industry? Fashion photography? 

JE: It's much more savage of an industry than I could have ever imagined. Almost reminds me of corporate America, with an artsy twist; this has changed everything on the photography front. Just being able to work with better talent changed my work, now I'm developing my personal style. So I guess this question can't really be answered right now, I'm still learning and growing with every shoot.

S: Alot of people ask about the differences in markets but they're blatant, the question is what can the markets who are looking to build fashion on a major scale adopt from markets like NYC?

JE: They could adopt the drive, determination, and work ethic that so many people have in larger markets. I feel like the above mentioned qualities are due to the sheer amount of competition in NYC.

S: Let's direct our attention to Richmond, Virginia what was unique about starting here? What was the misconception about life outside of VA that you built while still living there?

JE: I guess it's not really unique but more of a challenge, I had to make my work look like it belonged in larger markets but without all the resources. Honestly, I had spent so much time over the years outside of Va that I really had no misconceptions about life outside of Va. 

S: Your style has a foundation of traditional fashion photography but is not traditional fashion photography explain where your inspiration comes from.

JE: I think my style is a mash up of so many different things. I used to look heavily at the west coast and how a lot of the popular guys were shooting out there. These days one of my favorites is Txemayeste. I love the strange and off beat more and more these days.

S: What was the first camera you owned? Why did you buy it?

JE: Canon rebel t2i, I bought it because I had always wanted a slr and the price was right from a friend.

S: Models, Models, Models whats the difference in the work ethic and industry knowledge in comparison to your previous market?

JE: The south is a pretty laid back place, the pace is totally different, it's just not fair to compare the two. Not to say there aren't some who are out there grinding, they just aren't the norm.

S: Its obvious that models in slower markets should relocate and experience their career in the faster pace fashion driven markets. What should models know before uprooting their entire life to live what they think as opposed to what it is?

JE: It's not all glitter and gold, and just be prepared and ready to work harder than you ever have.

S: What can emerging photographers expect when "merging into the fast lane"? 

JE: They can expect to be pushed to their limits on all fronts. 

S: Have you ever thought about positioning yourself to be an educator? Why or why not?

JE: Yes, I sure have. I feel like it's something that I was supposed to do. It almost comes natural and I always have people asking me a lot of questions, so naturally it only makes sense to pass along what I know. It just took me a little over 6 years to get to a point where I feel like I have something to offer.

S: Where can people contact you to commission you?


  Instagram - @john___ellis