In case you haven’t noticed, major business moves occur beyond corner offices and corporate boardrooms.
Meet Tasha Bleu, men’s fashion photographer, founder of Treu Bleu Imagery and global disruptor known for capturing the fashion and style of some of our favorite male street wear brands and celebs—Swizz Beats, Rick Ross, Pharell, to name a few. And, with clients based in Taiwan, Hong Kong, Beijing, Paris and Milan, and a recent feature in Nike Shanghai, Bleu joins the tribes of creative thought leaders challenging traditional roles and creating their own lanes.
BlackEnterprise.com caught up with Bleu to learn more about her experiences as an African American female photographer and plans to expand her brand beyond men’s fashion photography.
What inspired you to pursue a career in men’s fashion photography?
I attended Johnson and Wales University for Marketing in 2009 and founded Treu Bleu Imagery in 2010.
When I first started contributing to men’s lifestyle magazines, I took photos of everything. My mantra was “Shoot every day until I was known in every state”. I didn’t specialize in just one thing, I took on every job that I was offered and learned as much as I could. Eventually, I was booked for destination weddings, real estate photography jobs, food photography jobs and I even worked in a family portrait studio.
Later on, I started contributing to a well-established men’s lifestyle magazine based in Hong Kong. I gained direct access to top fashion houses, retailers, manufacturers, design experts and creative decision makers. I learned how men’s fashion products were made by directly working with the people who made them. I fell in love with photographing men’s clothing through learning firsthand from some of the industry’s design pioneers.
What are the top 3 ingredients for a successful career in men’s fashion photography?
- Researching Fashion Trends: The goal of fashion is to sell and consumers buy into emotion. It’s important to be aware of what people like to see, what makes them want to buy and what keeps them engaged. Many companies are out of touch with what goes on in the minds of their customer, so they hire me to keep them connected. I am fully emerged in various markets and I know how to use the information to maximize engagement through visuals.
- Having direction: You can establish a direction for your work once you realize what you love photographing. For me, it’s not about only working with male models; I photograph women in menswear too. It’s about booking jobs that establish a value on my work. I am genuinely devoted to men’s fashion because I love getting close ups of the passion in the stitching, documenting the affection in the cut of the cloth and capturing the quality of the craftsmanship.
- Understanding culture – You have to be respectful of a culture’s past before you can contribute to its future. Whether I am shooting a skate brand from NYC or a couture collection from Milan, I must analyze the brand’s origins, values and aesthetics.
If I am working with a menswear company, then it is in my best interest to relate the campaign to the history of “Savile Row” in order to engage sartorially inclined males ages 25-32. On the other hand, if I am working with a Japanese street wear brand, then it is in my best interest to relate the campaign to the history of “Urahara” in order to engage males ages 21-38 who collect figurines. It’s much bigger than photos
You not only work in a male dominated industry, but you work cross culturally. What challenges have you faced and lessons learned?
I have had a few experiences where people from other countries were shocked to find out that I was a black female when they met me, but I just kept my chin up and stayed focused.
It’s also crucial to remain true to who you are. The meaning behind the name “Treu Bleu Imagery” is to always produce IMAGERY that is TREU (pronounced “true”) to TASHA BLEU.” When you have a strong vision and personality, people from all walks of life will respect that and gravitate to you for work.
The menswear world is mainly an “all boys club” but I have gained the respect of many fashion professionals through my years of hard work and consistency.
As a male fashion photographer take us through a “day in the life of running your own company?”
I really don’t have a typical day. From attending meetings, to model fittings, on-camera interviews, magazine features and then attending events at night with a possibility of editing the photos right after–I can easily work three days straight without sleep. I don’t complain about it at all, it’s a life I asked for.