All images by Solmaz Saberi. Used with permission.
“I met my mentor through a website called Model Mayhem and he blew me away after our first shoot,” says Solmaz Saberi, a Los Angeles-based photographer and director with over a decade of experience in fashion, beauty and entertainment. Solmaz started out as a make up artist and to build her book, started to shoot models for herself. She has a genuine passion for fashion photography that started out when she was really young. Her portfolio is characterized by bright hues, bold poses and glamorous fashion.
She’s also founded quarterly publication called Unleash’d Magazine and collaborated with a colorful cast of celebrities, including Paris Hilton, Pia Mia, Miguel, Christina Milian, Amber Rose and more. We chatted with her about how she got to where she is.
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This video is part of InFrame, an online documentary series produced by Format and Bas Berkhout. Each video makes up the collection of intimate shorts follows a talented creative individual from the Format community, profiling their unique path to success. Format is a portfolio website builder that prides itself in making it easy to build a professional portfolio website without learning to code.
Phoblographer: Talk to us about how you got into photography.
Solmaz: Well, it all started when I started building my book as a hairstylist and makeup artist. I met my mentor through a website called Model Mayhem and he blew me away after our first shoot. Slowly and surely, I began to fall in love with photography. It was no time after I asked him if he would teach me how to shoot. He replied, “Sure, Solmaz. Get a camera and I’ll show you.” That moment was the beginning of me discovering my true love and talents.
Phoblographer: What’s the story behind how you got into fashion from being a makeup artist?
Solmaz: From a very young age growing up in Germany, fashion always put such a big smile on my face. I loved to dress up and go digging in my mother’s closet. I would torture myself in her heels just to walk down the streets and look cool. As I grew older and decided to get my cosmetology license, fashion was second nature to me. I already had a million ideas in my head of the things I could create, and how I would do it.
Phoblographer: When you go into a shoot and concept ideas, where do your ideas for poses, lighting and the unique feel that you’re giving off all come from?
Solmaz: I never know what I’m gonna do until I get there. It’s the energy on set, the people, the artist, the talent that start to give me life. I do what compliments it all, from the clothes, the makeup and the hair to the light that suits the model the most.
Phoblographer: You use your photography skills and then started the Unleash’d magazine, but do you feel that any of the photo skills transferred over or did you have to go about learning a whole bunch of new things? What was that like for you?
Solmaz: I’ve learned so much since starting the magazine. I’ve learned that my stories need to be cohesive, make sense, not just as a story but the feel and colors. You can’t start a story moody and then the mood of the model changes. I mean, you can, but most people won’t understand because you only have about 6 pages to tell your story, not 50.
Phoblographer: What are the five biggest things that you feel you’ve learned in the photo business?
Solmaz: Honestly, be humble, learn and shoot as much as you can, make mistakes– a lot of them, it’s okay. Be smart about your work, don’t sell yourself short. Believe in yourself.
Phoblographer: So you’re at this stage as a photographer now. Where do you want to be in one year and how do you plan on getting there?
Solmaz: I just want to keep growing and progressing as a photographer. I feel so blessed to be able to create and do what I love while making a living at it.