Photographer Jasper Soloff explains what drew him to his craft, how queerness is at the center of everything he does, and what makes for a truly great photograph.

It is fitting that movement, as he will tell you, is at the center of Jasper Soloff’s work. Momentum has taken hold of the 26-year-old photographer-director and is accelerating him to new heights of fashion, beauty, and entertainment. We speak just hours after his latest commercial — one for Maybelline starring Gigi Hadid no less — has gone viral on social media. The supermodel is dancing on top of a yellow taxi cab in the heart of Manhattan wearing a voluminous blue tutu skirt and a hoodie. It is quintessential Soloff.


Dance, color, and the overall sense of unbridled joy fill Jasper’s work. And it is in his ability to capture unfiltered happiness that he has found his skyrocketing success, working with the likes of Pete Davidson, Storm Reid, Dove Cameron, Russell Westbrook, Dixie D’Amelio, Iggy Azalea, Billy Porter, Gigi Hadid, Forever 21, Maybelline, Dropbox, Cosmopolitan – and that is just to name a few. Here, Jasper explains what drew him to photography in the first place, how queerness is at the center of everything he does, and what makes for a truly great photograph.

What initially interested you in photography?

Movement. I was a dancer as a teen and when I got to Sarah Lawrence, I decided it wasn’t the career path I wanted anymore. I saw there was an Intro to Photography class and I felt like I could do something with that because movement is such a big part of photography. It’s a lot of movement direction and expressing yourself through an image and showcasing the body and what it can do. A lot of my first photographs were very dance-inspired. I soon left Sarah Lawrence and went to Central Saint Martins in London.

How does a photographer convey movement through an image?

It’s a kind of dance with the lens. Gigi Hadid is such a good example of someone who is really incredible with movement. There’s always a kind of tug and pull with the camera, and a lot of the best models understand how powerful that can be. And they see how iconic images are often derived from understanding how to work your body and how to be seen on film. I think that’s also why I’ve been so drawn to directing. I wanted that extension, and I wanted to work with bigger teams, and now I’m working closely with a bunch of really amazing choreographers for my fashion films and commercials. Photography has been a pathway for me to understand capturing something, and then now having the opportunity to capture that same thing in motion in a dynamic and elevated way is exciting.


A lot of my upcoming shoots are movement-focused, and I’m also looking forward to being able to express queerness through movement, and how that intersection is so important to me. Growing up, queerness and dance were always looked down upon, and people felt that just because you’re a dancer you must be gay. I was always embarrassed by that, but now I’m excited to explore queerness in dance and showcase that being a queer dancer is something to be proud of.

How do you find that your queer identity permeates into your work?

I think this feeling of wanting to be understood. Because I never felt understood growing up. I always felt like an outcast and that I had to hide who I was. I think a lot of my work now has to do with happiness, color, and optimism. A lot of the optimism and color in my work has been shaped by my childhood and bringing hope to young gay kids who feel similarly to how I did. I just love the idea of someone looking at my work and seeing a happy future.

You began with photography and are now also directing. How did you begin that transition and what obstacles, if any, did you face?

Music videos were originally a big goal for me, and now it’s expanded more into wanting to do commercials as well. I just did a commercial with Dropbox where we explored someone’s gender transition and how saving her photographs to Dropbox helped her in her transition. And seeing how she’s grown and how she’s transformed from someone who wasn’t as comfortable with their body to someone who now is comfortable. It’s projects like that that feel so exciting to me, because I’m like, Wow, that commercial could reach someone who needs it.

Do you ever feel imposter syndrome? How do you cope with it?

I have so many nightmares about things going wrong. It’s difficult and I honestly don’t have an answer as to how to get over it. I try to just do it because it always feels so amazing after. All I can do is show up, be prepared, understand what my job is, and understand what the creative is. Everything else is out of my hands. Letting go of that control a little bit is helpful to get through it.

How does it feel to be 26 — usually one of the youngest people on set — and also be the one calling the shots?

I’ve had one of the producers on set think I was the PA and she was incredibly rude to me. I was mortified because nobody should be talked to that way, whether you’re the director of the PA. I took my mask off and she was genuinely embarrassed about what she had said.

What makes for a great image?

Honesty. I love an honest image. I love seeing someone looking directly into the camera and that moment where someone connects. It feels intimate and it feels like you’re getting to know someone.



Jasper Soloff is represented by Estelle Leeds.