International Women's Day: pro Carla Guler celebrates positive industry change

(Image credit: Carla Guler)
Meet the pro

Carla Guler

(Image credit: Carla Guler)

Carla is a luxury fashion photographer and creative director based in London, Milan and New York. Her photography draws on female strength and power, with a focus on femininity to create a dynamic approach.

Carla has featured in magazines such as Vanity Fair, Vogue, Harpers Bazaar, Elle, Hunger and many more.

Hey Carla. Where in the world are you and what are you currently working on?

I am primarily based in London, but travel a lot for work. I’m working on a few really exciting projects at the moment, one I’m particularly excited about with a certain well-known supermodel… I’m looking forward to being able to share more of that in the coming months! Also, I recently started directing videos on projects, so, you’ll be seeing more of my directorial work in the near future. 

Tell us about your journey in photography. What made you start shooting professionally?

I’ve been shooting professionally for over 10 years. My father, being a photographer, meant I was surrounded by photography growing up and from this, I knew I wanted to work within the creative industry in some way. 

My favourite subject was art at school, so, as a teenager, I started visiting exhibitions to further my knowledge of the topic. This led to my love of photography and my realisation that I wanted to pursue a career in the field. So, I went on to study at the London College of Fashion for University. 

Immediately following university, I assisted and worked in-house with brands whilst building an editorial portfolio. All of my free time and weekends were filled with test shoots and editorials to help build my book. When I felt like I had a solid portfolio and enough clients, I went completely freelance and haven’t looked back since!

(Image credit: Carla Guler)

How would you describe your style?

I take great pride in my unique, yet recognisable style of photography, drawing on female power and strength. This is conceptualised through a focus on form and femininity to create a dynamic approach to fashion photography.

What was your first camera, and what do you shoot with now?

My first camera was a little point and shoot Canon with the integrated pop-up flash. I loved this camera so much! I used it non-stop and mainly with a fixed lens so that I was forced to move around for the composition and really think about my shots. I now use the Canon EOS R5 and a 16-35mm lens is my favourite go-to! I love the wide-angle, especially on location, as it adds another dynamic to the shot. If I don’t want to go too wide then I use a 24-70mm.

(Image credit: Carla Guler)

I am a champion of women’s strength, independence and hard work, so, having a day that not only recognises but celebrates how far we’ve come socially, economically and culturally is extremely important.

Carla Guler

What does International Women’s Day mean to you?

Being a feminist, I am a champion of women’s strength, independence and hard work, so, having a day that not only recognises but celebrates how far we’ve come socially, economically and culturally is extremely important. Working in what used to be a predominantly male-dominated industry, it is amazing to see more female photographers growing and becoming more successful in this career path. 

Have industry attitudes to female photographers changed since the beginning of your career?

Yes, one hundred percent. I remember being in the photographer’s pit at London Fashion Week and being one of the only women, surrounded by men. Even before that, when I was assisting, it felt like there were only male photographers. The full-time brands that I’ve worked with mainly had male photographers, and they were always prioritised for campaigns, promotions and managerial roles.  

When I was still aspiring to become a successful photographer, Annie Leibovitz, one of my favourite photographers, was really the only leading female role model for me at the time. I’m so thankful that now female photographers are a lot more common and accepted. I even have female digi and lighting assistants.

What else would you like to see to break down the barriers?

I see more and more female directors now working in moving image – an area which is still quite male-dominated – so I would love for women to have that same freedom and respect within that field as they do now in photography.

Carla Guler

(Image credit: Carla Guler)

What advice would you give photographers wanting to follow a similar career?

Persistence is key! Especially while you are growing your style, your clientele, your business, your portfolio. This takes time and is never going to happen overnight. But, I promise you that if you really want it and you put in the time and effort to grow your brand, it will definitely pay off! 

“If you improve by 1% everyday, within a year you’ll have improved by 365%”

Where would you like the industry to be in five years?

It would be nice to continue to see brands pushing the boundaries when it comes to campaigns and advertisements, this is something I feel we are starting to see, but we still have a long way to go. 

Also, I know that social media video content like Reels on Instagram and TikToks are extremely popular and key for shoots at the moment, but I would love for us to keep a focus on the importance of stills as a foundation for photography.

Lastly, share something that'd surprise us!

During the pandemic when we went into the first initial lockdown and everything stopped, All my work stopped too. I thought I was never going to work as a photographer again.

The panic set in, so, I got a job in a supermarket recruiting delivery drivers. I would spend my hours between shifts planning future shoots I hoped would come. Then one morning I walked into the store and BOOM! My first Vogue front cover was on the shelves! I took it as a sign that everything was going to be ok.

Some of the shoots that I planned and shot over this time have solidified my work and made my aesthetic so recognisable. This time really made me appreciate my job and grateful for working in a field that I extremely enjoy. 

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