As Austin Fashion Week is under way now through May 11, we thought it a great time to highlight a local fashion photographer with a global reach and an international background.
Fashion photographer, Gerry Hanan, moved to Austin, Texas, from Ireland in 1995. Having always loved photography, he began to shoot in earnest when he purchased his first DSLR, a Canon 20D, in 2005. It was from this moment on that he knew that he had talent and could have a professional photography career in the future. In his studio, he began to study light, and how to manipulate it. Being Irish has its benefits–Gerry has a great sense of humor and hospitality about him. He focuses entirely on the people involved in the job at hand, making them feel comfortable and drawing out their best work with his humble manner. Today, Gerry is one of the top fashion photographers in Austin, TX and travels around the US and the world on assignment. One of his favorite pastimes is going to New York for Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week. More recently he was chosen to establish the first ever Oklahoma Fashion Week as part of their core team of organizers.
Sikara: So far this year you’ve shot for New York Fashion Week, Oklahoma Fashion Week and now Austin Fashion Week. What aspects of each do you enjoy? What’s stimulating and what’s challenging?
Gerry Hanan: The stimulating part of shooting any fashion week is capturing beautiful women, (sorry guys) in (usually) amazing clothes. I am an INCREDIBLE fan of creativity and seeing clothes that capture my heart when I see them walk down the runway. The challenging part of shooting any Fashion Week comes in two parts, and probably the MOST important is lighting. I have a mantra: the attendees will speak about the event for maybe three weeks but the photographs speak all year long. If the lighting is on then the remaining challenge is to get shots where the model has the right stride, one leg in front of the other. That’s partially me, timing, and the model 🙂
Sikara: Describe your ideal fashion shoot experience; please feel free to give an example?
GH: The ideal fashion shoot is when I shoot with someone who is either insanely talented or insanely hungry. Body proportions or beauty can open the door to possibility, but modeling is a verb, it is something you do. So to describe my ideal shoot, it’s one where I am working with a true model and there is a complete team including fashion stylist, hair, makeup etc. With the way I work, the best results come from team planning and a common unity of vision.
Sikara: Has your Irish upbringing/culture impacted or influenced how you work or aspects of your work?
GH: My past and how it influences my work is less about being from Ireland and more about my upbringing. My father was an artist, and he typically painted either Irish landscapes, or more true to his passion, Irish or English steam trains. Lastly, I remember he painted nudes from time to time. Since his studio was in the house, I would always see what he was working on, and even as teenager, I became aware of artistic ways to treat the female form that displayed elegance and beauty and were not about overt sensuality. My true thirst and hunger revolves around capturing beauty and elegance and for me that rarely involves nudity or creating an image that I wouldn’t be proud to show my parents.
Sikara: Have you ever been in awe or “star struck” by anyone you’ve shot? Who and Why?
GH: Local Austin girl Doa, who is moving to NY at the end of the summer, is both elegant on the runway and photographs like a dream. The unique beauty, elegance, confidence and determination that she possesses are everything she needs to make it big in NY. My guess is that she will become a household name within the next year. I am definitely in awe of Karlie Kloss. I have shot her multiple times on the runway in NY and she just looks incredible.
Sikara: What would you like to accomplish next? Who would you ideally like to shoot for?
GH: The next thing on my calendar is to go to LA and spend time with my good friend and mentor Jerry Avenaim, and do portfolio shoots, secure a rep and begin shooting tests with models from top agencies. Jerry is a celebrity fashion photographer and he shot the cover of Vogue 20 something years ago when he was 24 and to get to spend time shooting with him is an incredible blessing and will be another corner stone in my career. In regard to accomplishments as they relate to Fashion Week, two seasons ago in NY I covered Fashion Week for Maybelline and I would like to do that again in September for them, or other high profile brands in NY, Paris and Milan.
Sikara: What advice would you give to other aspiring fashion photographers?
GH: My advice would be to find your style, find the zone where your passion is fully alive and throw all your efforts into that arena. Constantly immerse yourself in fashion imagery and other sources of inspiration. Go see a live play like on Broadway, go to the biggest museum near you, and fill your head with success stories of other photographers and creative individuals. We are constantly bombarded with doubt, second guessing ourselves and over analyzing our work ─ to counter that we need to be inspired and keep the passion alive.