New Launch Pads for a Career in Fashion Photography: Bullett

By Holly Stuart Hughes

© Bullett/Photo by Frederik Heyman
A Frederik Heyman photograph of actor Kirsten Dunst for the cover of Bullett's Future Issue. Click on the Photo Gallery link below to see layouts from the magazine.

James Orlando, creative director for the independent fashion magazine Bullett, loves spotting new, talented, young fashion photographers. “It’s so exciting for me to get someone who’s fresh out of college or who hasn’t done anything for an international publication and give them a chance,” he says. Photographers who list Bullett among their editorial clients have landed assignments for designers, commercial clients and high-profile magazines.

Two features of the publication have helped make Bullett such an effective showcase for photographers’ work. One is its unfussy design. Fashion photos usually run big and uncluttered by type. Another is its strategy for selecting photographers for their style, then letting them express themselves through assignments. “We definitely always want photographers to bring out their best work—that’s why we’re interested in working with them,” he says. Like many independent fashion magazines, Bullett doesn’t pay photography fees; it does pay for expenses and will arrange for all the resources—including sets, studio, models, stylists and retouching—to produce a story that will bear the photographer’s personal stamp. When the magazine was launched three and a half years ago, Orlando says, they were “a bit pushier” when it came to art directing shoots. With time and success, however, the magazine has become more collaborative, and Orlando strives to strike a balance between “getting what you want and being surprised.” Advertising determines what fashions are included in a shoot but, Orlando says, “I don’t take fashion too seriously, and I don’t think anyone should. I think that’s what gives us our vision.”

While Bullett has a list of contributors who have shot for several issues, Orlando is always looking for new photographers, often in search of photographers who can express the theme of each issue. Past themes have included The Surreal Issue, The Future Issue and The Wildness Issue. “I’m on Tumblr every day for at least an hour or two, researching, looking for things,” he says. “When I’m looking for something I don’t know necessarily what it is, but when I find it, that’s exciting.”

It was through Tumblr that he found Charlie Engman, a young photographer who has shot several assignments for Bullett, including a story on actress Imogen Poots for The Future Issue. “His work is so fresh, and he’s always doing something super interesting,” Orlando says.  

Suggestions also come from stylists. That’s how he discovered work by Frederik Heyman, who was flown from Antwerp, Belgium, to photograph actors James Franco and Kirsten Dunst in Los Angeles. It was Heyman’s first trip to the United States, and one of his first times shooting celebrities. The resulting colorful, moody portraits were both “fresh and innovative,” Orlando says.

With the goal of “bringing art and fashion into celebrity culture,” Orlando has asked fine-art photographers like Danielle Levitt and Tierney Gearon to shoot celebrity portraits as well as fashion for the magazine. When he saw Charles Fréger’s “Wilder Mann” series exhibited at the Art Basel art fair, Orlando wanted to see how he might shoot fashion. When Fréger was planning a trip to New York City to attend the opening of an exhibit of his work at the Gallery at Hermès, Orlando got in touch, and Fréger shot a fashion story for Bullett the day after his opening.

Photographers regularly submit promos to Orlando, and can also share finished stories. The Submissions page of the website includes an e-mail address where work can be sent to editors.

This summer, after the publication of The Wildness issue, Bullett announced that it would no longer be publishing in print. Instead, it’s focusing on its iPad and tablet editions. The magazine is expanding its use of video, and has experimented with making its stories more interactive. For example, the magazine recently assigned videos of actors playing charades, with readers playing along.

Bullett’s format may be different, but the mission, Orlando says, remains the same: “To represent culture and to showcase fresh talent, and to bring that to as wide an audience as we can.”

Related Articles:

Bullett Magazine Photo Gallery
New Launch Pads for a Career in Fashion Photography: Fashion Week
New Launch Pads for a Career in Fashion Photography: International Editions
New Launch Pads for a Career in Fashion Photography: Look Books
New Launch Pads for a Career in Fashion Photography: Refinery29

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