It’s no secret that we’re in love with pretty photography and prints, so we were thrilled to discover the beautiful work of New York-based photographer Joyce Lee. Not only has she worked for some of our favorite companies (Chloé, Martha Stewart Living and Kate Spade New York—talk about an impressive résumé!), but her personal work is also absolutely stunning! We caught up with Joyce to learn a bit more about her creative career and inspiration.
When did you first become interested in photography?
I took a photography class in high school and was, as they say, “hooked.” I started taking self-portraits and these ‘fashion pictures’ of my friends all around town (in Columbus, Ohio). This was the time when Cindy Sherman’s Film Stills had just become popular, and the combination of art and dressing up really intrigued me. That led me to pursue photography at SVA (School of Visual Arts) in New York. When I was a kid, I loved writing stories and thought maybe I’d be a writer one day. These days I’m still telling stories — just with images instead of words.
We absolutely love that your prints are so vibrant and colorful! What inspires your pictures?
I’m inspired by natural light, shadows, colorful prints, modern architecture, the work of William Eggleston and Edward Hopper.
What is a typical work day like for you as a photographer in New York?
If I’m in the pre-production stage of a project, a typical day usually involves conceptualizing shoot ideas, talking with my stylist, and creating storyboards (which are part inspiration/mood board and part practical elements—like props, lighting and camera angles). I also do my own retouching, so many days are spent at the computer. My life can be pretty solitary on those days when I’m not shooting.
You’ve done a lot of work for some of our favorite companies, such as Kate Spade and Martha Stewart Living. How do you decide which projects are right for you?
I shoot a lot of still life. I’m most interested in creating environments that are beautiful but realistic in some way — an elevated version of the everyday, if you will. I love projects that allow me to explore these worlds.
What is your favorite picture you’ve ever taken?
It would definitely have to be an image of glycerine soaps I shot for Hermès. The simplicity, colors and light are, for me, magical.
What do you consider your biggest success or most exciting moment thus far in your career?
I’ve had many exciting moments in terms of collaborating with some clients that I’ve admired for a long time, Kate Spade being one of them. I also had one of my images included in their “Things We Love” 20th anniversary book. My biggest success, though, by far, is my mother finally admitting to me that letting her daughter go to art school was a good idea (that happened this year)!
As an artist, what is it like to deal with the business aspect of your job?
I am represented by an agency and they take care of many aspects of the business side. However, even with an agent, I do a lot of my own self-promotion, which includes mailing out promos, emailing newsletters and handling social media. It is very difficult to keep all of those long-term projects going consistently while tending to the actual taking pictures side of my business.
Do you have any advice for other aspiring photographers?
Find a mentor who can be your sounding board — whether it’s a photographer you assist, a teacher, a photo editor or someone who works at an agency. Having someone you can talk to — who has also been through the business side — is invaluable. I didn’t really have a mentor myself, but it’s one thing that I felt I was missing. Also, don’t undervalue your work because once you set a low standard, it’s very hard to change that bar. And finally, be nice. If you are working, you are very, very lucky. Never forget that.
What are your favorite apps for editing photos on Instagram?
I’m a fan of VSCO Cam and Squaready.
What are some exciting new things you’re working on?
I just shot a summer food story for Real Simple’s August issue and have been shooting more food this year, which is exciting. I am also working on a series of images for Clinique’s Instagram, which will be debuting later this summer.
How do you sparkle?
I try to balance work and life and get out into the sunshine.
We’re so excited to be giving away one of our favorite Joyce Lee prints to a lucky reader! We will be posting this print on Instagram later today. To enter to win, you must follow @glitterguide and @joyceleephoto on Instagram and comment on the Instagram post! Good luck!
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