Fashion Careers: How to Become a Fashion-Industry Videographer

Not to brag or anything, but the Nordstrom video team does awesome work. Plus, they get to travel to glamorous cities, interview famous people, play with the choicest new stuff from the best brands. (Maybe we hate them a little for that? Clearly, they are better people than we are.) How in the world do you get that job?

We grabbed a few minutes with Angela, one of our lead videographers, to ask her how she got into the business, what she loves about her job and how YOU can become an Ace Fashion Videographer, too.

BP.: How did you get into fashion videography?

Angela: I’m very lucky. I studied architecture in school, knowing that my end goal was to be in the fashion industry in some capacity (at that time I wanted to be a clothing designer). There are basic design principles that are shared between architecture and fashion, so it didn’t seem like much of a stretch. Since I couldn’t study fashion at my school,  I had to go my own route.

My grandfather was an illustrator, so I knew I had the aptitude to understand and engage with a myriad of art mediums. Before leaving architecture, I developed skills, like managing projects from conception through actualization, that definitely help me do what I do now. I also made a bunch of building flythrough videos for the firm I worked for, and shot a few side projects that I just dreamt up.

After working at Nordstrom in the Designer Site Merchandising department, it was a natural next step for me to fill this role. Finally!!! I got to marry my business skills to my creative skills. Video is great for me because my architecture training helped me discover that I really enjoy working in three dimensions. So it’s nice to continue to think and design that way.

Angela Sumner, Ace Videographer

Angela, Ace Videographer

BP.: You’ve shot some really interesting people, especially for the Men’s Shop. Who was your favorite and why?

Angela: Everyone has been so so great—like I said, I’m very lucky! One of my favorites is definitely Gorgui Dieng of the Minnesota Timberwolves. We love him so much that we’ve shot him twice! We first met Gorgui when he was getting ready for draft night. We fitted him in two suits…the man is 6’11”, so you can imagine that it was quite a challenge. He was so inspiring to everyone on set. His story of how he got to where he is really left all of us feeling humbled by the experience. Sometimes I watch that video just for inspiration. I won’t forget that shoot as long as I live.

BP.: What’s the thing people would be most surprised to learn about your job?

Angela: I think people are most surprised to learn that it’s not as glamorous as they imagine. Sure, being on set with models is great—it really is—but everyone on set is working hard to get the best shot. Sometimes we work 16-hour days, and I work most weekends (mostly willingly). And when we’re not in the studio, that means we’re outside, and never in ideal weather conditions. But I love what I do. I love scouring my city, the Internet, magazines, old books, anything for inspiration to tell a story.

There’s also a lot of pressure to create something that resonates with the majority of our customers. But different from architecture, if we get it wrong on one video we can try again relatively quickly. That for me has been the best, being able to see my ideas come to life in less than a month. Who could ask for anything better? Instant gratification!

Goofing AroundGoofing around is an essential part of the job

BP.: How do you develop a concept for a video? 

Angela: Here at Nordstrom, we let our business needs drive our creative projects, meaning: what’s trending, what our customers are loving, what brands are doing something cool. For menswear, it’s really been about education, showing what we carry and how real guys are wearing it.

When I sit down to develop a concept I think about things in mainstream fashion that have caught my eye, then I think about what makes sense for the project. Certain filmmakers and fashion photographers will inspire me and that will influence the things I do in post–production.

What influences can you spot in this video?

BP.: How hard is it to then turn that concept into a finished product?

Angela: As far as getting from a concept to a finished product: It’s all about the team you assemble. This is my favorite part. I love to see how people bring their own sense of creativity to the project, and how they might interpret my vision.

Then it’s time to scout a location. Where is this story best told? I like to work closely with the stylist during this part, because I like his/her input on the clothing and how it relates to the scene.

Once shoot day comes, I’m busy keeping the schedule, making sure we get all the shots I need. I also like to keep a happy crew. I’m kind of a stickler for hydration while on set! After we’ve shot for the day, I am itching to start editing. I’m heavily involved in the editing process, choosing music or filter effects that will enhance the story we’re creating.

BP.: What advice do you have for young people who want to get into video production?

Angela: If you want to get into video production, go for it! Study fashion, study film, study drawing…study anything you can that will get your mind flowing creative juices. Go see movies, research fashion designers, research architects! Find out what about this industry makes your heart sing.

I realized that when I was sneaking into the living room late at night to watch fashion shows that I was actually enamored with the story of it all. There are a bunch of different jobs in the fashion industry that people don’t know about, and this is one of them. With the emerging importance of digital media (because it’s so instant), this is going to become an important job—so get your cameras out and start making movies and storyboards.

I started keeping tears of magazines when I was 10 or so, and I have them all in boxes in my closet. Sometimes I dig them out to look at them, and it’s amazing how trends come back around.

It’s never too late to start, but just START. Start gathering inspiration and little artifacts—anything comes in handy. Developing a creative arsenal is really the most important. You’ll never know what might come of it.

Check out Nordstrom’s great videos. You could totally do that job.

{ 1 comment… add one }
  • Daniel Vestal December 6, 2015, 9:00 pm

    Great write up and insight on a fascinating industry. Would love to be working in the same capacity someday.

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