Lensman Phil Oh on shooting his first magazine editorial, which drew inspiration from his signature street style photography.

Nasiba Adilova in Paris; all photographs by Phil Oh

My blog [Street Peeper] was a couple years old, and I had just graduated from using a point-and-shoot camera to an entry level SLR. I got an email from Seventeen; they were doing a street style shoot in L.A. and asked if I wanted to [photograph] it.

I’d never done a photo shoot before, never [even] assisted on any.

They put me up at the SUNSET MARQUIS — this was before all the consultants slashed everybody’s budgets.

Manon Leloup in Paris

Left to right: Chloe Malle, Susie Bubble, Piera Gelardi, Lynn Yaeger, and Chioma Nnadi in New York

The morning of the [shoot], I went down to the lobby. A bunch of people and one of those giant [mobile] trailers were there. I went up to one of the guys and [said], ‘Hey! What are you filming?’

‘It’s a photo shoot for Seventeen,’ he said. ‘We’re waiting for the photographer.’

‘That’s me!’ I said. The looks on their faces were like:


The jig was up from the moment they saw me.

Leaf Greener in London

Karmen Pedaru in New York

People spend years on sets as assistants before they actually shoot something; I had no idea what I was supposed to do. I started to think, ‘What happens if this sucks?’

[When] I turned on the camera [to shoot] the second or third look, I pressed the wrong button and [set] it on timer mode, and I didn’t know how to [switch] it back. ‘I’ve got to use the bathroom,’ I said, and went to the trailer to Google how to turn the timer mode off.

The pictures came out okay, [and] they didn’t kill [the story]. [That shoot] scared the shit out of me,
but you get used to it.

— as told to The Thick

Did you see? Photographer Richard Ballarian takes his very first photo, casting agent and stylist Natalie Joos takes The Thick Questionnaire.

Hanne Gaby Odiele in Milan