The Kids Stay in the Picture

ZaraKids_AW15_01Shearwood photographed this image for Zara in his London studio.

For photographer Mark Shearwood, making the perfect photo is never child’s play.

You have to be very, very patient when photographing children, says Mark Shearwood, who shoots campaigns for Tommy Hilfiger, Stella McCartney, Zara, and others. “The hardest thing is to stay relaxed—you know, chill, not bossy,” he says, on a call from his native London. You can just tell an adult model what to do; but if kid models get stressed out, “there’s a good chance you won’t get what you want [in the photographs].”

Shearwood came to the Fashion Institute of Technology from Manchester University, where he’d already polished off his liberal arts classes. He enrolled at FIT strictly to “soak up as many technical skills as possible.” His big breakthrough came in 2012, when he pitched a feature idea—twins—to Milk, an innovative children’s fashion and lifestyle magazine based in Paris. Seeking nonprofessional models, he found his subjects mostly through friends of friends. Shot over two weeks around the U.K., often in neighborhoods he grew up in, the portfolio of images captured his slightly moody, innocently quirky aesthetic. Nine months later, he shot his first campaign with McCartney.

Shearwood says he doesn’t adapt his style to different shoots, or companies. “My approach stays the same—‘natural.’” But he doesn’t want to repeat himself, either. After his pictures for last year’s Zara campaign were published, he had to turn down offers from clients who wanted him to recreate the same look. He doesn’t always photograph children; at this early point in his career, he still wants the freedom to grow. But kids are his specialty, and he seems to relish the particular challenge of working with them. “The moment you put your camera down,” he observes, “the kids will do something amazing.”

FIT’s Center for Continuing and Professional Studies offers a range of summer courses related to fashion business, photography, design, computer technology, marketing, and summer intensives in fashion styling, fashion event planning, image consulting and more.

Photo by Nick Parisse.Photo by Nick Parisse.

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