Meet the artist: eslee

Esther Lee is a lifestyle photographer based in Seattle and Los Angeles. While Esther’s photography experience ranges from travel, lifestyle, and weddings, her specialty and passion lies in fashion and still life. Here at Adorne, we had the privilege of working with Esther for our editorial photography. Other clients Esther has worked with before include Christian Dior, MUJI USA, Jenni Kayne, and Marie Kondo.

In this interview, we explore Esther's style evolution, her tips for traveling creatives, and how she balances her creative vision with notable clients'.

Through photography, I like to bring out small details and colors of simple scenes or objects that sometimes can be missed with your naked eye.

For MUJI USA by Esther Lee | Source: @eslee

How would you describe your style?

My style is always changing, but if I were to describe it in 3 words, it would be clean, subtle and quirky. I was able to discover my style by the colors I’m drawn towards; I like things that are simple. Through photography, I like to bring out small details and colors of simple scenes or objects that sometimes can be missed with your naked eye. Even though my photography continues to evolve, I’d like to think my style remains timeless.

As a travelling creative, you’re always on-the-go. Can you share with us your 5 life essentials you always travel with?

My 5 life essentials are: Camera, gum or pack of mints, planner, any kind of hat, and my GorillaPod.

Any tips for other traveling creatives on how to get comfortable shooting/working in unfamiliar places?

Just relax - take your time to get to know the area. As a photographer, it’s crucial to be very aware of your surroundings (the angle of the light, shadows, the background, etc.). If something doesn’t feel certain, it’s best to take time for yourself to get to know the area rather than pressuring yourself to start shooting right away.

As a photographer, I think it still takes a lot of skill to be able to process and execute someone else’s vision.

For Marie Kondo by Esther Lee | Source: @eslee

As a photographer who has worked with some of the biggest names in the industry, do you have any advice on how to balance your creative vision with strict company guidelines? Is it important to have your own vision for each project you take on?

The most exciting projects are the ones in which I can take on both the creative direction and photography roles. As a creative director, I can be more hands-on in developing the vision and voice for the brand. Since I’m able to input my creative vision, naturally, I am able to grasp a better understanding of what the brand is looking for and in turn, create a better story.

However, there are times when I do work with big brands that have strict guidelines. Inevitably, but understandably, there is not as much creative freedom since the brands have specific directions to follow certain visual styles, angles, or editing guidelines. That being said, as a photographer, I think it still takes a lot of skill to be able to process and execute someone else’s vision.

For Adorne by Esther Lee | Source: @eslee

As an LA native, where have been the most memorable places to shoot? Is there anything you miss the most about working LA since you’ve moved to Seattle?

The most memorable place for me has been Pasadena City Hall. As a photographer I’ve frequented that location countless times (at least 30!). Because it’s such a versatile location, I love that I have to challenge myself to look at the venue in a different light for the different projects I’ve been there for. For instance, shooting engagements and wedding photos drastically differs from shooting editorials. It always feels like a huge accomplishment whenever I’m able to shoot different projects there, but still fall in love with the same place - I’ll never forget it. Since I’ve moved to Seattle, what I miss the most about LA are the people I worked with and and the touch of sunlight when shooting indoors.

How do you choose which brands to work with? What about Adorne’s messaging spoke to you?

As a creative, most of us have a favorite brand that we want to work with once in our lifetime. When I first started out as a photographer, I took on as many jobs as I could. And slowly, as I started gaining more recognition and working with bigger clients that I had only dreamed of, I felt really proud of my career.

But what makes me want to work with a specific person or brand is if they have a good mission statement and truly believe in their product. It’s really inspiring to see and feel the passion people can have towards a cause or a product. Being a part of that process elevates my photography since I can help identify and capture their vision and voice. It’s truly the most exciting part of my job - seeing how my work can make an impact on brands and seeing their businesses grow. For me, I love how Adorne isn’t just about selling products. There is a sense of community and care for the people who make the products. I appreciate the support they provide to artists on their platform who are usually behind-the-scenes.

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