Earlier this year, photographer Petra Collins told Fashionista about her frustration with the fact that "it's always been the same, like, five men that shoot all of the campaigns, all the covers, everything" in fashion. And she has a point — there really is a small group of (yes, mostly male) photographers that tend to land the most coveted gigs in the industry over and over.
But those dudes aren't the only talented people with cameras. There's a new guard of photographers working their way up through the ranks. And if Collins' own success story is any indication, they might just end up coming for the crowns that have previously been worn only by established industry veterans. Read on to learn more about a few of our favorite photographers who aren't household names yet — but may soon be.
Sandy Kim first started blowing up when Girls, a band she'd befriended and photographed religiously, began attracting national attention. Since then, the Portland-raised film photographer has made a name for herself by offering an intimate and sometimes jarring look at sex, fashion and late-night antics in a lo-fi manner reminiscent of Nan Goldin or Ryan McGinley. Kim has shot for a range of media outlets that include Vice, Purple, Puss Puss, Wonderland, New York Magazine and Playboy.
Carin Backoff doesn't have the longest or most diverse list of publications on her resumé, but the photographer and former casting director has a longstanding relationship with Love that's yielded some noteworthy fruit. Backoff has shot with the Hadid sisters, Emily Ratajkowski, Selena Gomez and Kendall Jenner for the publication, not to mention that recent smokin' editorial she shot featuring Nicole Kidman hanging out in baseball caps and chaps.
Puerto Rico-born, New York-raised Ysa Pérez is a former GQ photo assistant and American Apparel model who distinguished herself by shooting candid imagery of musicians like A$AP Rocky and Solange before they became internationally recognized icons. In the years since, Pérez has gone on to shoot for Nylon, Complex, The Fader, Allure, Paper and more.
Ethan James Green
With a face that earned him a spot in ads for Marc Jacobs (not to mention a casting in that Calvin Klein sexting campaign a few years back), Ethan James Green could've stuck with modeling. Instead, he's gravitated toward the other side of the lens, photographing the downtown queer fashion and art scene for his personal portrait series. Green has worked with brands like Proenza Schouler, Alexander McQueen and Vaquera, collaborated with Edward Enninful on editorial imagery for W and seen his work featured in Dazed, Vogue Italia, AnOther and Man About Town. Most recently, he shot a campaign for Helmut Lang.
You may not have heard of her, but Leslie Kirchhoff has shot for major glossies from Vogue to GQ to Glamour to The Atlantic. Her images of fashion and beauty icons like Grace Coddington and Linda Rodin have a refreshingly down-to-earth quality, and because she's a true multi-hyphenate millennial, she supplements her photography gigs by DJing at night.
If Mayan Toledano's dreamy, pastel-hued aesthetic seems cut from the same cloth as Petra Collins', it may be because they're close pals who once belonged to the same digital art collective. But Toledano brings a sensibility all her own to her projects, which range from a photo series documenting the lives of female Israeli soldiers to fashion editorials for W, Nylon Japan, Urban Outfitters' blog, Teen Vogue, T and more. Toledano is also the co-founder of cool-girl-approved clothing line Me and You.
Atlanta-born Tyler Mitchell has the street cred other photographers can only play at, since he got his start hanging around skate parks with a camera and shooting music videos for under-the-radar rappers like Kevin Abstract. Mitchell's "post-DSLR" work, which features tender portrayals of young celebrities like Amandla Stenberg and Slick Woods mixed in with his own friends from back home, has been featured in Office, The Fader, Dazed, i-D and Wonderland.
British artist Maisie Cousins' visceral depictions of fruit, glistening skin and flowers isn't always about fashion or beauty explicitly. But the compelling and sometimes grotesque way in which her close-up images evoke sex, desire, beauty ideals and excess makes her work a natural fit for the industry. Cousins has displayed her fine art pieces in the Tate Modern and in a Vogue Italia-curated show, collaborated with Stella McCartney on an ad campaign and shot editorial imagery for The Cut, Hunger, The Fader UK and Polyester Zine.
Michael Bailey Gates
Michael Bailey Gates is another model-turned-photographer whose pictures of the young, queer art scene in New York have landed him in the spotlight. Having walked the runway for Eckhaus Latta and appeared in CR Fashion Book himself, Gates is now making a name for himself photographing his cool-kid pals like India Menuez and Chloe Wise for publications like Man About Town, Numéro, Wonderland and more. Fans who come for the famous friends or Gates' own beautiful face stay for his distinctive aesthetic, which is laced with self-aware self-portraiture and absurd humor.
Amber Mahoney is an Australian-born New York transplant who has worked on campaigns with brands like Mansur Gavriel and Mara Hoffman in addition to shooting for i-D, Oyster, Refinery29, Wonderland, Nylon and more. Her preference for natural light and subtly faded colors gives Mahoney's film photography a quiet, gentle energy even when she's shooting boisterous people or vibrant tones.
Filip Custic and Kito Muñoz
Spanish duo Filip Custic and Kito Muñoz each have impressive resumes on their own, but they often create work together under the moniker Filip y Kito. Together, the two have shot for publications like Fucking Young!, A Magazine Curated By, GQ UK and Terra Firma in addition to working with brands like Opening Ceremony and Delpozo. Their signature aesthetic is surrealist and sexy — often graphically so, as in their homoerotic imagery for up-and-coming brand Palomo's ad campaigns.
Tory Rust got her start in photography playing dress-up with and photographing her friends in North Dakota as a middle schooler, but it wasn't until she moved to New York and attended the School of Visual Arts that she began to refine her distinctively high-energy personal aesthetic. Her penchant for crazy angles and bright colors has led to her work being tapped by Man Repeller, the CFDA, Barney's New York, Nylon, TicTail and Alice and Olivia.
Born and raised in Los Angeles, Emily Knecht has worked with some of the coolest LA-based labels in the game (not to mention a whole bunch from elsewhere). In addition to shooting for brands like Reformation, Solid and Striped, Garrett Leight and Urban Outfitters, Knecht has also had her work published in i-D, the Coveteur and Refinery29.
American photographer Chris Schoonover brings his vintage-inspired, uncluttered and color-conscious aesthetic to publications like W, Nylon, Paper and Refinery29. His images, which are often portraits featuring washed-out visions of bold hues shot in a studio setting, have also been used by brands like Gap, New Balance and J.Crew.
Olivia Locher is best known for her ability to create digital images that have a propensity to go viral, whether they depict pants made of marshmallows or ice cream melting in a back pocket. The Pennsylvania-born, New York-based photographer has had her work published in W, Vice, Interview and The New York Times Magazine, to name a few.