Alumni Spotlight: Nick Aitken

Nick Aitken sought out photography courses at CCSF to help him with his budding interest in fashion photography. After several courses, he successfully transferred to AAU where he finished his studies. Today, Aitken continues his original career as a stylist while cultivating his career behind the lens as a fashion photographer. The below interview with him is re-posted from:

ECR: If people were to find your work 100 years from now, what would you like them to know about the time you lived in?

Nick: When I said that originally I was thinking and realizing how much photography has changed since I started dabbling in it (I have some black and white prints I did way back in high school that are like vintage prints today), so when I really got into photography it would be around this digital revolution of change.

Really utilizing natural light and mixing unnatural parts, making changes in how I will shoot knowing what my post production will also accomplish allow me to create. This will be changing I’m sure with technology.

ECR: We were extremely surprised to learn that you have only been shooting professionally for a few years: before that you were a stylist for 16 years, and before that, a model.

Did you learn photography by osmosis, from all that time on sets or …?

Nick: Haha, um well I suppose part of it. I always have just done what I love and I’m still doing some of those things. I take what I know from past experience and try to keep growing. Photography is just on my path of life, I’m sure it will always be a part of me.

ECR: What’s the best advice you’ve ever been given regarding your craft?

Nick: Actually people ask me this question often believe it or not, and the first thing that comes to mind for me is just do what you love. If you do what you love other things in life happen naturally and you are a happier person I believe.

ECR: Do you enjoy the fashion world, or do you need to take a break from it? What’s more important: confidence, or humility in this environment?

Nick: I love shooting fashion: I’ve been fascinated with it my whole life. I need a break from time to time yes, but I keep going back in for more. I think confidence is something that you get with experience, so I believe that to be very important, and I also think humility is a hard one for most people myself included, so sometimes I can be humble and other times I can hang it on the coat rack at the front door on my way out.

ECR: What kept you interested in styling for 16 years? Why the sudden break to photography as your new career? Was there a “moment”?

Nick: There is actually a person out there in this world named Nick that does more than one career. I still style and I love it. It pays the bills, there’s never been a moment of clarity for me to move into just photography, I love both and still do both.

ECR: Tell us about a time when the worst thing that could’ve happened turned into the best thing that could’ve happened.

Nick: The worst thing that could ever happen to me hasn’t happened yet unfortunately, I know that’s a bummer to hear, and for me to answer cause I know it’s still coming. I guess with this knowledge I have now it can prepare me to see some growth hopefully and also not be afraid of looking into the future.

ECR: Since you’re a former model, what makes a good model, in your opinion? How much of it is the look, and how much of it is talent? What exactly is talent, when it comes to a model?

Nick: A good model to me is one that is healthy in her mind and her body and being able to show different sides of herself or himself to the audience that can sell a product.

Confidence and knowing one’s body and features and being open to new ideas, trying new things, and not being a complainer is the best heaven sent-model. Talent is is either something someone is born with, or they can also work really hard and become whomever they want to be.

ECR: San Francisco is small, but is also the home of choice for a lot of globally respected creative artists.

Would you or would you not recommend it as a place to live for creatives? What would they get out of it that they couldn’t find anywhere else?

Nick: SF is awesome, it’s like living in a post card. I wish more creatives and more talent was in SF to be honest. So pack your bags, and join the party. It’s a beautiful place to be in and around, the people are amazing, most of them really do care, but try real hard to act like they don’t. Over all it’s a great experience visually and emotionally.

ECR: If you had an unlimited budget and could shoot anybody, alive or dead, who would it be, and what would you do?

Nick: I would have loved to have shot Elvis Presley, I mean lets be honest, he was amazing and who wouldn’t want to be able to shoot him when all the ladies were crazed over him. I also loved his crazy outfits with the sparkles and collars.

ECR: Tell us your number-one attribute, as a creative.

Nick: My number one attribute as a creative probably is determination. And I do like to have Fun.

Nick Aitken’s Online Portfolio


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