Elevating Fashion Photography with Technical Precision and Artistic Vision

Conducted by Guillaume Jean Lefebvre


1. You have established yourself as a talented photographer, participating in numerous prestigious events. Can you share when your passion for photography first sparked?

Thank you! I was around the age of ten when I received my first 110-film camera with a flash bar. However, it wasn't until I got my hands on a digital camera that I truly felt liberated from the limitations of film and the costs associated with processing. With digital photography, I was able to embark on a journey of exploration, experimenting with various camera settings, composition techniques, lenses, and post-processing methods. The instant feedback and immediate results became invaluable in my learning process.

2. Prior to pursuing photography, you had a background as an electrical engineer and inventor, having secured several patents. Could you enlighten us about some of your inventions? Do you continue to pursue invention alongside your photography endeavors?

Electronics has always fascinated me, perhaps dating back to my early childhood when I curiously inserted a coat hanger into an electrical outlet. From there, my interest grew, and I began experimenting with batteries, light bulbs, and constructing motors. This passion eventually led me to explore radios and delve into various computer-related projects. My bedroom was constantly filled with wires and ambitious undertakings. Over time, I had the opportunity to design consumer and industrial devices for several companies.

I firmly believe that innovation and creativity often flourish at the intersection of unrelated disciplines. That is why I find it important to nurture diverse interests. For me, those interests encompass electronics, computers, and photography. While my focus is primarily on photography at present, I continue to embrace my inventive spirit and remain open to future projects that merge these different realms.

3. Why did you decide to completely change career paths? What appealed to you the most in photography?

Actually, I’m still an engineer as my profession is in electronic product development, which I really enjoy and find very satisfying. But outside work and family, most know me as a photographer and are usually more interested in discussing that world rather than the achievements in my professional role.

Besides creating beautiful images, photography has also allowed me to cross paths with many interesting people I never would have had the chance to meet in my normal life.

4. For those who will discover you, including amateur photographers wishing to follow in your footsteps, can you name some prestigious events in which you had the pleasure of participating and some names of celebrities you photographed?

Many times, when I am photographing guests at events, I have no idea who they are. It isn’t until I come home and show my daughter the images and see her jaw drop that I realize I was around someone famous.

Recently I’ve photographed the Hadid and the Hilton sisters, numerous Instagram and TikTok influencers, actors, politicians, socialites, and musicians. Some of my recent favorite fashion shows have been Roberto Cavalli, Genny, and Bronx & Banco for the professionalism of the models, the venue, the lighting, and the overall energy.

5. When you started out as an autodidact, how did you find your place and make yourself known in this environment?

Working solo only gets one so far. For me, collaborating with the FashionStock crew has been a huge benefit. When working as a team, you’re assisting, learning from, and critiquing each other, discussing techniques, settings, and logistics and sharing resources. At the end of a shoot, it’s critical to able to deliver results since you’re occupying space at a very limited access event.

It's also important to share your best work. Photography serves nobody except maybe the photographer if the images only sit inside a computer. It’s essential to spend time processing and posting photos online, submitting to magazines, identifying and sending directly to the subjects, or simply printing them. Even if there is no money to be made by giving a photo away it could be the key that opens a door in the future.

6. What was the first big event you attended? And what event had the most impact on you?

Photographing New York Fashion Week for the first time was such a wild experience. Before that, I thought I was a pretty good photographer, but after shooting a few shows I realized I had a lot to learn:

For fashion show photography, understanding what needs to be delivered to a designer, PR agency, magazine, or model is what really matters. For example, a runway photo must be perfectly in focus, properly framed, exposed, color balanced; and just as important is that the model’s feet, arms, and gaze must be aligned just right.

Furthermore, one must be able to adapt quickly between photographing backstage and then the runway event and resolve equipment problems immediately. Photographers need to cooperate with each other as they are often crammed together very tightly on the riser at the end of the runway, all struggling to get the optimum shooting position.

7. You said that photography gave you the confidence to approach strangers from all over the world, and brings out your artistic side that you didn’t know you had. Can you tell us more about this? Is Charles Wills a reserved and shy person?

I grew up in a large family with six sisters, so I’m used to being around lots of people and getting along with them. Although I may be somewhat reserved, I’ve come to realize that if I’m at an event with my camera, it becomes very easy and quite amusing when I get to connect with people in this way.

8. Do you take artistic portraits other than event photos? Can we see some of this photography?

I’ve spent a lot of time photographing yoga poses as fine art, especially with my wife. Not only has it been good publicity for her business, but it gives us something constructive to do together that combines our interests. Beyond that I also enjoy creating advertorial and landscape imagery.

9. Where can our readers see all of your work?

cwillsphoto.com is my photography website and on Instagram I’m @cwills.

10. Can you tell us more about your possible future projects?

I’m planning to travel and attend more international fashion shows; not only so I can see the world but to connect with people from different cultures. My recent experience photographing Milan Fashion Week in Italy was extremely positive. I found the people of Milan very friendly and fashionable, the city was beautiful, and the fashion shows were epic.

Charles's foray into the world of fashion show photography has taken his passion for capturing moments to new heights. Immersed in the world of chic, high-energy, and exclusive events, he thrives on the demanding challenge of bringing viewers into these captivating experiences and preserving every intricate detail. From documenting backstage preparations and VIP guests to capturing the runway spectacle, each aspect fuels Charles's enthusiasm.

Beyond his role as a photographer, Charles is an accomplished electrical engineer and inventor, holding several patents. His affinity for the technical aspects of photography has always been evident. Years of self-study, coupled with the immediate feedback digital cameras offer, have honed his understanding of camera mechanics, equipment utilization, and environmental adaptation.

Yet, it is in the realm of composition, lighting, and ambiance that Charles has discovered an unexpected artistic flair. Holding a camera in his hands mysteriously instills him with confidence, allowing him to approach and connect with strangers from all corners of the globe, directing his subjects to bring out their best. To Charles, fashion photography seamlessly merges the realms of portraiture, product presentation, and fine art.

Balancing a life near the boundless opportunities that New York City offers, Charles finds solace and inspiration in his home nestled among the hills of Connecticut. This environment allows him to both thrive within the bustling fashion industry and retreat to a serene sanctuary that fuels his creative spirit.

Charles's journey in fashion show photography serves as a testament to his technical acumen, artistic sensibility, and unwavering commitment to capturing the essence of these remarkable events. With each click of the shutter, he brings to life the vibrant world of fashion, leaving an indelible mark on the industry he so passionately embraces.

Quality, not quantity

We have made quality our habit. It’s not something that we just strive for – we live by this principle every day.