Photographer Chance McClaren would play around with his dad’s Canon AE-1 camera growing up in Montana. His work later evolved into capturing scenic images throughout the Northwest. It wasn’t until McLaren was accepted to the Art Institute of Seattle—where he applied on a whim—that he had an inkling to pursue his newfound love for fashion photography.
Nowadays he’s doing both. His subject-centered images subtly play up movement and garments, while his landscape photography showcases an eye for the grandiose. The Montana native shares his inspirations and the digital craze.
What got you into photography?
Science class in the fifth grade. As a class we would guess what these macro photos were just for a fun little exercise. I started taking photos of things from home, like little Debbie oatmeal creme pies and bringing them into school for the class to guess. My family then moved to Delta Junction, Alaska, which further sparked my interest in photography. How could it not? Alaska is amazing!
What is your current visual inspiration?
Instagram and Fstoppers. They both help expose me to a large array of photos. I then cull from the photos I like to form an aesthetic I like. This also helps me find my style and see what I am drawn to as a photographer. I know my style is still developing. I also like to watch a lot of shows just to see how the lighting was achieved. A great example is the movie The Revenant.
What photographers’ work do you admire?
Clay Cook from Louisville, Kentucky, and Jami Davis of Seattle—who I have been blessed to work with a few times—and Dixie Dixon. I also love John Keatley’s work of Seattle, but his is more in the realm of advertising.
How would you describe your photo taste?
My taste falls along the lines of elegant, minimalistic, clean, and edgy. I really love to color tone my images, which often involves a blue.
Major photographers like Mert and Marcus have influenced the acceptance of digital manipulation in fashion photography. Do you think you’re a modernist in that regard?
I feel that I learned the digital side of the industry more than the analog side, so with regard to being a modernist I would say yes. But I think these days—with our ability to use Photoshop—we can take fashion, or any niche for that matter, and kind of push the boundaries. The ability to manipulate images adds to the art side of things. I do feel that there is a time when the purity should be kept. I guess the point is there is a line, but it’s not well defined. There is a real beauty to the rawness of things and people, but there is a time and a place to use it in our industry.
Do you have particular places you’d like to shoot?
The redwood forest in California and Yosemite National Park. It would be cool to stand where Ansel Adams stood when he was documenting that area. Other places would be Jasper and Banff National Park in Canada. Add the Grand Canyon to the list! A road trip across all 50 states would be amazing!
Do you have any pearls of wisdom for aspiring fashion photographers?
Often times it can be easy to get discouraged when you see other people’s work. You can’t let things like that get to you. Be willing to put in the hours of shooting and never accept that you’re good enough. Don’t be too big-headed to listen to the criticism. If you’re not willing to listen to how people react to your work and what they think of it you’re holding yourself back.