Simply put, Tommy Ton is a visionary. A celebrated street style photographer, who we first got to know when he was behind the lens for style.com, his shots have only gotten better—and (even) more iconic—as time’s gone by. He was our first choice to photograph the Fall campaign, modeled after those magical moments in the early aughts. To get an even closer look at the season, we caught up with Ton to hear more about his career, what inspired his latest, how he approaches his subjects, and the happy movement he brilliantly captures best.
When you started in fashion, like it or not, you were the newcomer, you were breaking the mold and proposing something very different than what the industry was used to see. What drove you to start your career as a photographer?
I guess you could say my career started in 2005 when I bought my first camera, but I didn't have plans on becoming a photographer. I bought the camera to primarily start my blog, Jak and Jil, but it was to only document what people were wearing. I didn't think taking street style photos would evolve into a photography career. Photography was just part of the project I had in mind when I launched Jak and Jil, which was originally meant to be an online lifestyle magazine. I felt what people were wearing on the street and at events wasn't being represented enough, so that's what drove me to purchase a camera and start Jak and Jil.
What do you think sets you apart from sets other photographers?
I think what sets me apart is that I consider myself a fashion enthusiast primarily before being considered a photographer. My career path in fashion always stems from my love of fashion first. I hope when people look at my photos, they can see a love of fashion that is conveyed in how I like to capture moments. Some photographers like to compose a photo and capture a moment, whereas I think I'm more fixated on the clothes or subject matter.
My fondest memories are definitely when I first came into the office and had my first meeting to discuss working for Style.com. It was such a shock to me that I was being considered for the job and when I got it, it was truly a dream come true.
You started a whole new style of photography and have a keen eye for accessories. What draws you to accessories?
I think it's how universal they are. Anyone of any background, size or gender can make them uniquely their own. A lot of people can show up to the same show with the same accessory but they individually can wear a bag or shoe differently. You can have so much fun playing with accessories.
What was your most memorable fashion season?
I honestly can't particularly pick one because I've experienced so many in 15 years. They have all blurred together but I do look back and just think about the experience as a whole and I'm very grateful.
How has your photography style changed since the start of your career?
I think it's maybe a bit less spontaneous now. I feel like I've seen so much in the years I've been shooting street style, I find myself capturing more of what I'm feeling in the moment. So it's constantly changing I feel. It sounds vague I know but it's part of my creative evolution.
What was your inspiration when shooting this campaign for Larroudé?
Marina said she just wanted it to remind her of my time when I worked for Style.com. She wanted images that evoked that specific era of street style and it was lots of fun recreating those joyous moments.
In your opinion, what makes an outfit fun to photograph?
I think my opinion on what makes an outfit worth photographing has changed throughout the years depending on what I'm feeling. I just really follow my initial instinct and if someone captivates me from first glance, I'll take their photo. If I second guess, there's no harm in knowing I took the photo.
What advice would you give aspiring photographers hoping to break into the fashion industry?
To have fun, be patient, work hard, be open minded and be gracious in every celebratory moment.