- August 22, 2017
- 12 min to read
An Interview with Aaron Levy of Rip City Lookbook
While you daydream of photographing your next exotic travel destination, the best shots may actually be just outside your front door. Step into the street and uncover the world that surrounds you, like popular street photographer Aaron Levy does.
Aaron Levy is a photographer based in the thriving artistic scene of Portland, Oregon. His initial Instragram concept — Rip City Lookbook — is known for Aaron’s street style captures of fashion and style that portray the city and its eclectic nature.
These days, Aaron has branched further into the realm of fashion and product photography for lifestyle and consumer brands — all the while still finding time to snap an epic street snap or two.
The Photolemur team sat down with Aaron to pick his brain about his journey, his inspiration, and his pieces of lasting advice.
1. Where did your journey with photography begin? Were you always interested in street photography?
My journey with photography began in high school when skateboarding inspired me to pick up cameras and shoot my friends. Mostly video at the time. After slowing down in college, I picked cameras back up and started shooting stills after moving to Portland when I was 22. Street style photography was always a big inspiration in those days.
2. Where did the idea for Rip City Lookbook come from?
The idea for Rip City Lookbook, my original Instagram concept, came from the Copenhagen Lookbook tumblr account. It was a great page of candid street style from all over Europe that I thought was really cool.
3. When we first met you, we knew all about your street snaps (you’re a Portland legend). How did you get comfortable with asking people on the streets if you could photograph them?
Some people would probably argue that by asking my subjects if I can shoot them, it takes something away from the street photography element, which I understand. My work tends to let the subject and what they’re wearing tell the story. It just took a lot of asking to become comfortable, and I always made sure to approach people in front and not sneak up on them from behind.
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4. Who are some of your street photography idols? What is it about their style that draws you to them?
As far as street style photographers go, I really enjoy the work of Scott Schuman aka The Sartorialist. Of course Bill Cunningham. I also was heavily inspired by Tommy Ton and Jules Castel who was the photographer behind Copenhagen Lookbook. Outside of fashion, I really was inspired by my now-friend Jon Trend's street photography. He has a great eye. Aaron Berger is also one of my biggest inspirations in street photography.
5. What do you look for when you’re scouting out people to photograph?
I don't wander the streets as much as I used to, but what inspires me is when I see someone dressed in a way that is a distinct extension of their personality. I might not know them, but their style speaks to who they are and I like to capture that in still images.
6. Can you tell us about some of your recent collaborations?
Lately I've been exploring other ways to make photography into a career. I've been working to get more comfortable in studio settings and product photography. I've also been shooting a lot of lifestyle content for consumer brands.
7. We know you love to travel. What drew you to Portland? And what do you find creatively invigorating about both the Pacific Northwest and other places you’ve been?
After I came to Portland I experienced several life changes and considered moving home to Austin. I ended up staying more or less because I didn't have anything else going on, and I'm glad I did. It's been a great place to grow creatively.
8. For beginners just starting out, what are some tips you can give for street photos and photography in general?
Although my work doesn't fall under the traditional banner of 'street photography,' I think I can comfortably say that walking the streets, shooting and meeting people has opened all the doors for me. All the opportunities that have been presented to me originated by just walking and shooting downtown.
9. What type of gear do you use and what programs do you use for post-processing?
I shoot on a Canon 6D and edit primarily in Lightroom.
10. Can you share with us one experience you’ve had because of photography? A story about someone or something that’s stuck with you?
I think one experience I'll always remember was shooting at New York Fashion Week. Coming from Portland, I was pretty blown away and frankly overwhelmed. It was an incredible experience nonetheless.
11. And finally, your lasting piece of Aaron Levy advice for all the aspiring photographers out there?
Trust the process and if you're really wanting to get better, become a student of your craft and always be learning.
Big thanks to Aaron Levy for sharing some of his words and wisdom with us. We can’t wait to see where your creative journey takes you next.
To follow Aaron and his fashion visions find him on Instagram.