Stanley Desbas is the brilliant photographer behind the shoot of Morgan Louise, PLUMP’s very first international cover model for August 2016. His works are nothing short of beautiful and jaw-dropping, and it’s all because of his passion and dedication in shooting plus size models. Stanley reached top plus size fashion photographer level with 17 years of experience in the industry. He honed his craft by taking classes in prestigious schools such as the German School of Photography, School of Visual Arts (New York), and International Center of Photography (New York). Let’s get to know the creative mind of this man, who, more than a photographer, is a visual genius.
When did you start doing photography? How long have you been doing this?
I started doing photography at the age of 21 when I immigrated to the US from the island of Haiti. I took a break from it and rediscovered the love I had for it 10 years later. I have been a photographer for the past 17 years. It’s been a long journey.
Of all the hobbies that you could get yourself into, why photography?
I’ve had a fascination with movies since I was a kid. Around the age of 14, a friend of mine brought a camera to school and I was immediately hooked. I was a very lonely and a shy young man after moving to the US, so I turned to photography as a way of expressing myself.
Why did you choose to focus on plus size photography?
I have learned a lot working on major photoshoots with some of the world’s top fashion photographers. I’d love to share that experience with the plus size community. Not too many photographers like to shoot curvy models but I do, because they are eager to try something different and they listen. They don’t have big egos and they all have a different type of beauty. I like the curvy body and I like to push the envelope working with curvy models, I bring out the sexy in them.
What do you like about working with plus size models?
After I graduated from photography school, I remember a teacher said to me, “To be a great photographer you need to always photograph a subject that you really love and become a master at it.” One day, I was an assistant on a fashion shoot and the model was a size 16. The photographer was very uncomfortable shooting the model, but I was so excited to see a curvy model that after the shoot, I gave her my business card. We did a photoshoot a week later and like they say the rest is history. I began my journey working with plus size models and I found that there aren’t a lot of photographers in this niche market. I love curvy women—my wife is curvy. I don’t really have the right words to explain this love—an overall appreciation for curves maybe. I am also a bit tired of seeing only skinny models in magazines, so I am happy to see publications like your magazine dedicated to curvy women. There is a lot of work that needs to be done in other to bring this movement to the forefront and in all major publications. Curvy women need to support each other more and publications need to create a better platform showing plus size women in high fashion editorials.
Is it different shooting a bigger body compared to regular-sized models? Why or why not?
Yes, there are major differences in shooting different body types. There are certain poses you can do with a size 0-4 model that you can’t do with a size 12-18. You also need to know what type of camera lens to use, and composition is very important.
What do you want to tell plus size women who are shy/scared to be photographed?
No one really likes to be in front of the camera, believe it or not. Most people, no matter their size, get self-conscious in front of a camera. You need to ask yourself if this is something you really want to do and just try it. You have to believe in yourself, and as the photographer, it is my job to make you very comfortable and not be afraid to express yourself.
How can you tell if a woman is confident when being photographed?
I can tell by her facial expressions, and if I have THE shot in the first five pictures, I know the model is confident and it’s going to be a great shoot. That is why it’s always important for me to meet the model a few days before the shoot. Unless it’s a big job, then the client will just hire a model with experience. My job is to bring out that confidence and make the shoot fun.
QUICK Q&A WITH STANLEY
- Favorite photographer? Alexi Lubomirski, Herb Ritts, Giampaolo Sgura, Mario Testino, and Daymion Mardel.
- Favorite photo? I have a picture of a plus size model laying on the bed that’s on my website is at the top of my list, but I have too many favorites to count.
- How do you make your models comfortable before a shoot? I like to meet with a model a few days before the shoot so we can talk and get to know each other. I get them excited about the shoot, I like to be involved in every aspect of the shoot, I go shopping with them that way we get a chance to talk, and when we shoot it’s very relaxed and fun. My shoots are always fun. NO DRAMA!
- Any rituals before you start a shoot? I pray to my higher power and I kiss my wife and daughters, they are my biggest fans. I also drink a Redbull, eat M&M chocolates, and pump up the music.
Do you think self-love is important as a model? Why?
I do, but to a point. Don’t love yourself too much where you become a self-centered and selfish individual. Models must know it’s not always about them, especially to a client. You have to love and believe in yourself, that’s a fact of life. Models who stay in shape and by shape, eat healthy, exercise, and have confidence will be fine.