In this “Spotlight Interview” we talk with Fashion Photographer Maxine Helfman. Thank you Maxine for sharing some time with James Robinson Photography Blog. Where do you call home Maxine?
Maxine Helfman: Dallas, Texas.
JRP: What led you to fashion photography? Is there any formal training or assisting in your background?
Maxine Helfman: I was a stylist, then an art director. I started testing on my own and taught myself to shoot. I spent years shooting still life, and then moved on to people.
JRP: Which photographers have inspired you and your approach to fashion photography?
Maxine Helfman: There are a lot of them, as studying their work has been my teacher. The work of Avedon and Penn is classic and timeless. It’s amazing to look at their images and look at the dates they produced them.
JRP: How important are personal projects in the development of a photographer’s growth?
Maxine Helfman: Personal projects are the most important part of your growth. It’s not only where you develop your technical skills, it’s where you develop your style.
JRP: What would we find in your camera bag for a typical assignment shoot in studio or on location?
Maxine Helfman: I tend to use a minimal amount of equipment. Enough to accommodate my needs but not so much that my focus is on the equipment.
JRP: What is your approach to lighting? Do you prefer artificial or available light? What are your most used light modifiers?
Maxine Helfman: My lighting is fairly minimal. I prefer strobe and use small light sources. Usually a small softbox or strip with a grid. I generally use 1 light unless I’m going for a look that requires more. In general, I keep it simple.
JRP: Do you spend a lot of time processing images? Could you please describe your digital work flow and the software you use?
Maxine Helfman: I use Capture 1 making most of my adjustments there, and I finish up in Phototshop. I keep the process simple with just enough to enhance the image.
JRP: Do you make use of custom white balances and color checks when you shoot?
Maxine Helfman: I will usually use a grey card so there is a reference in the session if needed, but generally it’s by eye.
JRP: Image printing, how is that handled?
Maxine Helfman: I generally do my own printing with an Epson 3880, or 9800.
JRP: When you look through the viewfinder what is the most critical moment in the capture of an image?
Maxine Helfman: Simplicity. When the composition is at its simplest form it’s the most dynamic, combined with angle and eyes.
JRP: With today’s economy what changes are driving the fashion market place and how have you adjusted?
Maxine Helfman: I think you have to be true to your style, and continue to grow. You can’t second guess trends, etc. Staying cost-effective and efficient for the jobs, and still delivering quality is the best solution.
JRP: What seems to be the biggest obstacle to over-come in building a client base?
Maxine Helfman: Staying true to your style.
JRP: If not fashion photography what would Maxine Helfman be doing with her time?
Maxine Helfman: I split my time between still life, fashion, and personal projects. What I shoot has a broad range. I always have personal projects going.
JRP: What has been the best advice given to you by another photographer?
Maxine Helfman: It’s about what you produce. You can have great ideas, but unless they’re produced … they’re meaningless.
JRP: What advice would you like to share with photographers starting out?
Maxine Helfman: Work on your skills and develop a vision. It doesn’t happen overnight.
JRP: Thank you Maxine for sharing your thoughts and images with us. It has been a real pleasure. We wish you continued success.
To view more of Maxine Helfman’s photography please follow this link: