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Joshua Abramovich

On March 16, Brown Fashion Week 2023 continued with a highly anticipated speaker. Kamyiis Mclean is a successful fashion photographer who has been featured in Vogue, WWD, i-D Magazine, and other notable publications. Madison McTaggart, a co-director of Fashion@Brown’s photography team, sat down with Kamyiis to talk about his journey, the fashion community, and what it takes to make it as a creator.


Madison started the conversation by asking Kamyiis how he became interested in fashion photography. From a young age, he loved fashion and the camera. Kamyiis was born and raised in Jamaica. At the age of 17, he worked at a resort and took photos of weddings. Eventually, he moved to New York City to further pursue his career.


Kamyiis then discussed how people, especially the mostly-student audience, can launch their career as a photographer. First, less pose makes for better photos. Great photographs are taken when the model is off-guard. Kamyiis described how he is a vintage guy, as he takes inspiration from 80s and 90s fashion. He went on to say that the industry is looking back at that period, so exploring creative work from the past can help feed your projects. Also, starting as a photographer without clients and a large budget can be difficult. Kamyiis recommended developing personal projects by finding low-cost clothing items at thrift stores. He said, once you build your portfolio, reach out to people and publications. Oftentimes, large names in fashion read smaller magazines. The audience was eager to hear Kamyiis’ stories about attending fashion shows, events, and parties once he got his foot into the door of the industry. He expressed that networking is your best friend and it’s important to be nice to everyone you meet. ”You only need one person to see your work.”


Another significant topic of discussion was on developing your style as a photographer, or more broadly as an artist. Kamyiis found it difficult at first to identify his style; his initial photos were bright like everyone else. However, he thought traditional studio photography was boring and experimented. Kamyiis told the audience that you have to learn how to stand out. Clearly this worked, as Kamyiis’ photographs are easily identifiable. He went on to say once you discover your style, improve it but remain consistent.


Madison and Kamyiis then conversed about telling your story as an artist. Kamyiis wanted to celebrate his identity by using black models. Unfortunately, he was rejected by magazines for this decision. Staying true to his voice was worthwhile, as Kamyiis was eventually discovered by Naomi Campbell and Vogue. Furthermore, Kamyiis said that publications aren’t necessarily looking for the best photographs but rather interesting stories to tell.


Kamyiis’ talk with F@B was very insightful for those interested in growing as a photographer or working in fashion. At the end of the event, he kindly answered an abundance of questions from students wanting to know more about his work and experiences. When asked what he would tell his younger self, Kamyiis answered, “never give up.”

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