From Cube Jockey to Free Agent: Photographer Naomi Shon Shines On Her Own

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Ever found yourself staring at a gray-carpeted cubicle wall and thought, “this isn’t for me?” You’re not alone, clock-watchers. Photographer Naomi Shon only needed one “real” job after college to realize that the corporate grind wasn’t for her. Now, the New York-based photographer is her own boss, with a portfolio that reads like a who’s who of fashion and music tastemakers, including Lana Del Ray and everyone’s favorite Man Repeller, Leandra Medine.
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Wrapped up in her workwear (that is, her favorite selects from Kenneth Cole Collection's fall offering), this fashionable photog shared her thoughts on giving up the grind, the perils of being the only artist in the family, and why she loves living and working in New York. Read on!
Kenneth Cole Collection Long-Sleeve Mesh T-Shirt, $79.50, available at Kenneth Cole
Kenneth Cole CollectionTech-Fabric Skirt, $89.50, available at Kenneth Cole
Kenneth Cole Collection Peplum Belt, $198, available at Kenneth Cole.
Styled by Christina Turner; Hair by Bethany Brill; Makeup by Erin Green
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What was your first job?
"I never had a conventional job! The closest I came was an internship at Entertainment Weekly. I had my own cubicle in a nice office with nice people. It was all just… nice! But it taught me that cubicles were not my thing."
What do you love about photography as opposed to office life?
"I love that I get to meet all these characters through my work. They keep my world lively."
Kenneth Cole Collection Coat With Leather Sleeves, $399.50, available at Kenneth Cole
Kenneth Cole Collection Boxing Day Flap-Top Satchel, $198, available at Kenneth Cole
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What do you love about working in New York?
"New York’s energy is really intense — people going hard, chasing their dreams. I like surrounding myself with people who love what they do and work hard to do it."
Did your parents support your career choice?
"My parents always pushed me to think BIG — but I’m the only artist in the family, so my plans scared them sometimes! They’d always suggest backup plans, which I shot down. Eventually, they realized that photography was something I wasn’t going to give up, and they learned to support it. They’re the best."
Kenneth Cole Collection Fly High Boot, $350, available at Kenneth Cole
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What advice do you have for people starting out in a creative profession?
"Be smart. Be aggressive. Be nice. School can only teach you so much; you have to learn as you go. Own your work and be proud of it! Make good art, and inspire others to do the same."
What's your creative mantra?
"Be you. Be true. Be real."
Kenneth Cole Collection Colorblocked Leather Vest, $299, available at Kenneth Cole
Kenneth Cole Collection Fly High Boot, $350, available at Kenneth Cole
Kenneth Cole Collection Hudson Rivet Hobo, $498, available at Kenneth Cole
Styled by Christina Turner; Hair by Bethany Brill; Makeup by Erin Green

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