Tory Rust is a New York based fashion photographer with a unique style that infuses color and graphic elements. Identifying her interest at a young age, she later developed a platform for her vision in the fashion world.
Raised in Fargo, ND, attending graduate school at The School of Visual Arts brought her to the nation’s fashion capital. Last spring she achieved a master’s degree in fashion photography from the institution and began freelancing full-time.
Rust is passionate about her work and believes in taking pictures so she doesn’t have to deal with words. She’s been published in various magazines like NYLON and worked with major fashion companies including Barneys. Characterizing herself as a communicator over an artist, Rust hopes her visuals translate her vision and thoughts to fans and viewers.
What inspired you to begin your profession and when did you officially start?
I’m going to start this interview by prefacing it with a quick note. At the beginning of 2016 I was part of a photo exhibition at Milk Studios. My collection of images was titled “I Take Pictures So I Don’t Have To Deal With Words.” I keep coming back to this title because for some reason it continues to be applicable in my life—like right now, when I am struggling to translate my thoughts into words. So pardon my mumbling. In middle school I always carried around a point and shoot camera (this was before camera phones, at least ones in color) to take photos with friends. I remember at sleepovers my friends and I would put on crazy makeup and do mini photo shoots. I suppose that is when I officially became interested in fashion photography. I continued to shoot casually and then slowly transitioned to shooting with a team. Throughout college I would set up photo shoots with a full team. In 2015, I moved to New York to attend graduate school at The School of Visual Arts. Since graduating in May 2015 I’ve been freelancing full-time as a fashion photographer. I suppose you could say I officially started May 2015. My inspiration has always come from within. I can’t explain it, I had the desire to do something and I acted on it.
What has been the biggest highlight of your career so far and why?
I really enjoyed the exhibition at Milk Studios! It was an amazing opportunity to show my work “in real life,” as opposed to online.
How has your life changed since you began your journey and what are you expecting next?
I am in the planning stages of some really cool projects and shoots! I am working on a year-long project with a stylist. I can’t say much about it yet, it’s hush-hush right now. But I am really pumped about that, because I have never worked on such an extensive photo series before. Other than that, I am constantly working on new and fun projects with different brands and publications.
What characteristics do you believe are important to have in order to be successful and why?
There is no specific recipe for being successful, but I always find that passion for what you do, ambition and dedication can go a long way. All of the successful people I work with love what they do and spend every moment of their day making their dream happen.
For the young generation inspired by your achievements, what advice could you offer to those pursuing a career in the entertainment industry?
Just do it. It isn’t easy, but if you have the drive and dedication you’re set! Keep pushing your boundaries and don’t stop working until you have made it where you want to be.
How did you feel you contribute to the innovation of art, and what message are you trying to perceive from your influence?
When I applied to graduate school I wrote an essay about how I hate being called an artist. Although my thoughts aren’t as drastic (or as simple) as they were back then, I still prefer to characterize myself as a communicator before identifying as an artist. Pictures are the medium that I can best communicate and translate my thoughts to the masses.