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“We’re at the Beginning of Something Really Great”—Ethan James Green on the Future of Fashion Photography

At Forces of Fashion, Tonne Goodman and Ethan James Green share stories and pictures….

Like everything else in this period of change, fashion photography is moving in a new direction. At 29, Ethan James Green, who sat down to speak with Vogue’s Tonne Goodman at Forces of Fashion, is representative of a new generation of lensmen and women who are bridging the present and past.

Green grew up on a diet of classic fashion photography, loves the work of Irving Penn and Richard Avedon, sat as a model for Steven Meisel, and worked for David Armstrong. But the conditions in which he works are different, and not just because we’re in a digital age. “Starting as a photographer now, the rules that I feel like were there for so many years aren’t around anymore,” says Green.

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Eniola Abioro and Mayowa Nicholas in Dolce & Gabbana.Photographed by Ethan James Green, Vogue, October 2019

Green initially turned to photography, and then modeling, as an escape from his native Michigan, and from a double life as a closeted gay man. Goodman, who also modeled, believes that experience was beneficial, “because you know what it feels like to be in front of the camera. You know what it feels like to be afraid, [of] doing the wrong thing.”

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Rihanna wears a Fenty tulle coat. Forevermark earrings. Photographed by Ethan James Green, Vogue, November 2019

The editor appreciates the sensitivity she sees in Green’s work, and his ability to connect with people of all kinds on a profoundly human level. “When I started taking pictures there was never that moment of like, ‘Oh, this person won’t work,” the photographer said. “If someone’s excited to get their picture taken, I’m excited to photograph them. And I think when you have that combination, you can create something really beautiful. I think we’ve been lied to for years that it’s only a certain type of person can exist in a picture.”

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Phoebe Waller-Bridge in a Balenciaga dress and Cartier ring.Photographed by Ethan James Green, Vogue, December 2019

More inclusive ideas of beauty are bringing new life to fashion photography and photographers. “There’s so much more possibility. There are so many more people getting a chance to say something that haven’t [been able to do so] before,” says Green. “I think we’re just at the beginning of something really great.”

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Listen to Tonne Goodman and Ethan James Green’s complete conversation here.