INTERVIEW WITH KEMARA POL
We sat to interview with Kemara Pol, young but talented and upcoming photographer. He has already added big names like Lush, Google, Adidas, and Stella McCartney to his portfolio and has been published in Indie magazine, Tagesspiegel Berlin, Nasty Magazine, Contributor Magazine, Kunst Magazine, Metalhead magazine, and Pap Magazine among others.
Collage Art @sternlinda.co
Creative Direction / Casting / Production / Styling / Hair & Makeup / Photography @yokemara
How did you get into photography?
I used to work as a fashion editor going but eventually I wanted to leave the writing behind me because of the toxic working environment I found myself in. So I basically switched my career and became a photographer.
I always wanted to work in fashion, but didn’t quite know what would be the best route to take. Writing and telling people’s stories was something I loved. I always had this fascination to pick brains from accomplished people. Listening to their journey and trying to learn as much as possible from them.
In every day life the job as an editor was not very enjoyable to me. I dealt with a lot of cattiness and unnecessary competitive situations. I‘m so not the type for this environment and I had to realize that I just liked being a fashion editor in theory but couldn’t embrace everything that comes with it. Sometimes I still miss it and the thought of freelancing for a magazine still exists in the back of my head. So, hit me up 😄
Who are your biggest inspirations?
That’s a big question. I love people who stand for something for example Viola Davis or Janet Mock. The careers they both have created for themselves are admirable.
When it comes to photography it’s probably Steven Meisel because I really admire his creative spirit, his art direction and his ideas.
I‘m a very detail-oriented person. Very hands on when it comes to everything. I‘ve been working really hard over the last years to develop a signature style. That means I don’t only want to be. Recognized by my photographic style. Ideally people would also think of me when they see someone’s else’s work and think „hey that model looks like someone who‘d Kemara also may wanna work with. Let me reach out to him.“
So the way I plan a shoot is very unusual. Because the usual way would be to try to think of some idea and then go from there and cast the right model for that. Most of the times I don’t work like that. I‘m very keen on casting – so once I decided who I want to work with, I‘ll talk to them and try something that I want to do with them. It’s not always aligning with who they are as a person rather than what I see in them or know that they’re capable of.
I miss the days where modelling was more than just looking pretty & having lots of followers. To me modeling isn’t just about the physical appearance it’s also a verb, a person needs to know how TO model. That’s what gets me really excited. I love how Agyness Deyn used to dominate the late 2000s. Look her up – she is an icon. I also admire Gisele Bundchen. There’s just no one who can move like her!!
What was your first big shot when you felt that you have finally made it? How was the experience?
Uff I can’t say that. I still feel like I‘m hustling! Honestly I feel like I haven’t even started.
How is the Berlin fashion and creative scene?
I like Berlin because it’s a very vibrant and lively city. Fashion doesn’t play a huge role here but there’s for sure some very creative minds in this city. I feel it’s very free-spirited and non-judgmental. That’s what makes it very special!
Fashion is a notoriously difficult field to break into. What hardships did you face and what, in your opinion, made you successful?
Yeah it’s a very tough industry. You have to deal with lots of difficult personalities. Sometimes clients are very demanding and complicated but you gotta keep it professional and stay calm, be patient. But what I‘ve also learned is not taking everything a client is saying. If you don’t think you did anything wrong, stand your ground and stick up for yourself. Just because there’s a power imbalance between the client and the creatives doesn’t mean the client can just say anything and act out.
I think it is very important to know your value and stand up for yourself. And defend yourself if you feel like you‘re standing up. For yourself if you’re wrongly accused of something.
At the end of the day it is truly vital to be your authentic self. It seems like there’s a lot of projecting and jealousy in this industry. Because it’s such a tough environment people don’t give any free passes. You gotta find the right balance of being friendly, professional and still give a powerful impression, otherwise people will just walk over you. I don’t want to go into details, but I‘d advise people to have a sense of who they are as a person, because that assurance and that confidence will help you navigate this industry.
Success is obviously in the eye of the beholder but I think one way to become successful is to know that there’s always a way to make things work.
What is the most memorable shoot so far and what made it stand out?
I don’t have one shoot in particular that stands out more than the other ones. I think my goal every time I work with models is to photograph them in a way they haven’t been shot before. If I manage to do that then it’s already a very big success to me.
Production / Creative Direction / Photography & Grooming @yokemara
How would you define your photography style?
Good question, I‘d wanna say that I sometimes. Like to look back but at the same time I‘m a very forward oriented person. Sort of like Dua Lipa‘s album title future nostalgia – I think that‘s genius.
That we don’t see all the time on Social Media.
Any lessons you learned from the Covid period?
Yeah, perseverance!! That was also the time I expanded my services to casting and working with actors for headshots because fashion alone wasn’t enough at the time.
What do you think is crucial to be a successful photographer today?
Developing connections is more important than being a skilled photographer. It’s so important to be hired. To get the chance to show what you got. Being a freelance photographer is like running a business and you need to treat it as such. That means marketing, social media, visiting events, all of that will make you a successful working photographer.
What are your plans for 2023?
Honestly, just keep on sliving! Going back to Paris Fashion Week and mingle. Putting myself out there and trusting that the universe will link you up with the right people. Hopefully landing even bigger gigs to have a bigger platform and therefore being able to speak to a larger audience.
Head to Kamara’s website to check more of his work or follow him on his instagram. Hope you enjoyed the interview with Kamara Pol.