The Students News Site of Francis Howell High School

FHHS Today

The Students News Site of Francis Howell High School

FHHS Today

The Students News Site of Francis Howell High School

FHHS Today

Robert Brown (’05) Succeeds in Fashion Industry

Robert Brown (05) Succeeds in Fashion Industry

A Francis Howell alumnus (’05) with experience in front of, and behind, the camera, Robert Brown is taking the world by storm. Brown has been featured in an ad campaign for Diet Snapple and has taken the photos for Ola Hawatmeh’s look-book for her show in New York City’s fall fashion week. In an interview, Brown weighs in on being both a model and fashion photographer.


1. What’s your background in modeling? When and why did you get started?  

People have always told me that I have a very striking face, with distinctive features and a good jawline. Everyone always asked me why I didn’t model so I began to. I got started in modeling when I was a junior in high school in 2004. Prestige Portraits came to Francis Howell looking for models to use as examples for their photography company and I was selected. I would do small modeling jobs here and there after that, but it wasn’t until 2009 when I got my big break. I was working as an assistant at a photoshoot for ALIVE Magazine and the editor and chief came up to me thinking I was the model for the photo shoot. When I told him I was only there to take pictures and help out he insisted that I try to start modeling. He got me into St. Louis Fashion Week by going to a model casting call where I met some big photographers including a man named Tuan Lee. Tuan took my photos at the casting call and told me he saw a lot of potential in me. I was out in LA shortly after that trying to model and meeting with agencies. My best friend got off the airplane and met me in LA and I can remember her running in the airport screaming “MY BEST FRIEND IS IN A MAGAZINE.” She ran up to me holding the magazine of ALIVE and there I was, a full page of me. I was so overwhelmed with happiness. I got discovered with my modeling agency Centro when I walked down the runway for several designers and did a video ad for Diesel Underwear that sponsored Fashion Week. Since then I have done many runways, advertisements such as JECCA clothing that was in West County Mall for a while but now relocated and in 2010 I did an advertisement for Diet Snapple that will be put Nationwide.

2. How did you get into photography?

I got into photography when I was in yearbook in high school. Even just the simple basics of using a hand-held camera fascinated me. It was so fun, different and it allowed me to be creative. I took more and more interest in photography as time progressed. I loved holding the camera up to my eye with an SLR and looking through the viewfinder. It’s like looking through a whole different world. I practiced all the time with friends by taking their pictures. We would do photo shoots at my house in the bathroom against a solid gray wall. I also worked with Prestige Portraits doing paperwork and I would study the photographs the photographers took and talk it over with them on how they produced the final results. On top of that, I worked at Walgreens in the photo lab for 4 years starting my junior year of high school all the way till my sophomore year of college . I had a lot of photography jobs, haha.

3. How intertwined are your photography business and being a model?

I use my experiences with modeling as a way to help my ability photograph other models. The angles, lighting, poses that I have done in my modeling photo shoots have enabled me to get a vision of what it’s like in front and behind the camera. It helps a lot to be a model and then turn to my photography.

4. What is the difference between actually being a model and photographing one?

To actually be a model means you are captivating something, usually beauty, art, or to sell something such as merchandise. Being a model means you also are able to give a good face and work easy with a camera, meaning you need to be photogenic. Being a good photographer means you need to know your lighting, correct exposures, f-stops, and shutter speed to get the perfect image of the model. You also need to have the knowledge of the right angles and time to capture that perfect moment of a photograph. You have to be quick on your feet and work well with others to engage and make them feel as comfortable as possible while you are working with them.

5. What do you feel are the basic necessities for a photographer?

Lighting is extremely essential for photographers. When you click the shutter release button to take a picture of anything, the shutter opens up and let’s light into the lens to make an image. A good photographer always needs to know his correct lighting and the functions of his camera to make that perfect image. If you are in a studio, you need to know how to correctly position your reflectors and lights whether you are using any strobe or constant light and you need to know how to connect/sync your lights to flash correctly when you are pressing the shutter release. The correct exposure is the final important process to ensure that you have the best image possible.

For a model?

A model needs to take good lead in what the photographer is asking them to do. They also need to have a vision of what the photographer is trying to go for so they can help make the image better by maneuvering their bodies easier.

6. How did you prepare for shoots where you are the model?

Practice practice practice! I would stand in the mirror and practice my facial expressions, posture and poses. Getting lots of sleep before the shoot is very crucial too and drinking plenty of water. Having a clear complexion is extremely important to be a good model too. You have to eat right, and take care of your face and body.


What about ones where you are the photographer?

I do my research on what the client is looking for. Such as if they want a themed shoot I will go online and search for possible props and ideas to really give the client what they are looking for. You always need to be well rested for a photographing someone too so you can be on your toes and your creative side flows more easily.

7. What, in your opinion, distinguishes a good shoot from a bad one?

Poor lighting is a huge problem for me. If I see an image underexposed, or too overexposed then I don’t like it either. Good images to me consists of a clear focus, a good subject matter whether that be portrait, landscape, etc and correct lighting.

8. What do you feel are the biggest misconceptions for models? For fashion photographers?

Models are always stereotyped that they don’t eat. That is definitely not true. I eat a tremendous amount of food, and because my metabolism is so high I do not gain any weight. That is just genetics and depending on how you look at it, it may or may not be a good thing. I also work out at the gym at least 4-5 times a week so I take an extreme close watch on my health. Some people may think photographers have the easiest job and that all it takes is one simple click to a button. This is absolutely not the case either.

9. What advice do you have to someone who wants to get started in the modeling or photography world?

Modeling is very difficult. People will judge you and critique you in whatever you do. Confidence is a must and you need to be prepared to always hear the worst. You have to be the right height to do runway modeling. If you have that, practice your walks over and over again. It always is critical to know that people are looking for a particular image of what model they want at that moment and it could or couldn’t be your time. Keep trying and never give up. Having fun with it is the most important thing. Don’t be cocky about anything, because that will never get you anywhere. If you want to be a photographer, pick up a camera everyday. Practice taking pictures and study how the light hits the subject matter and what ways you can maneuver things to make it look better. Study the history of photography and what aperture priority does, and the shutter speed on your camera. Also look up photographers that are well known and their images. You can always get inspiration from others work, and have a twist of your own style. Most importantly, be comfortable, be proud and always be yourself!