Lessons I Learned With STL-bred Photographer Darío Calmese

By Mackenzie Taylor
In Culture

After Thursday night’s Wear It: Fashion Challenge, I rolled out of bed feeling the energy slowly draining out of me, because as fun as Fashion Week is, it’s also incredibly exhausting. Never did I expect that at 1pm yesterday, I would feel re-energized, inspired and wanting to work harder than ever before, but yet, here we are. And it was all thanks to Darío Calmese–St. Louis-bred photographer, now based in New York–who is back in town for little thing called Saint Louis Fashion Week.

SKIF International held a “Lunch + Learn,” catered by the amazing Hiro Asian Kitchen, for local designers to have the chance to ask Calmese questions on how he got started in the industry. With a slight laugh, he admitted that he never wanted to be involved in fashion photography. But now not only has he worked with brands such as Public School and Grey Ant, but he has exhibitions at the Detroit Institute of Art, Museum of Fine Arts in Turkmenistan and Jack Shainman Gallery in New York. Let’s just say he’s a busy guy, who knows a lot about what it takes to be a creative.


1/ When asked who his mentor was when he first began photography, Calmese paused before answering, “My curiosity.” Curiosity and creativity go hand-in-hand, he stated. You learn more from trying at something and failing, rather than immediately succeeding. Mistakes are a great resource. More often than not, you learn more from your mistakes than from your successes. And as someone who fears making a mistake, it’s nice to hear someone of his caliber saying it’s OK to.

2/ Creativity isn’t about reinventing the wheel. It’s about reigniting the spark.

3/ Creatives are sensitive, something that most people already know, but sensitive people have a habit of picking up on the vibes and feelings of others. His advice? Be careful who you surround yourself with or you could be taking on feelings that aren’t your own.

4/ Let passion be your educator. If you want to learn something, go out and learn it. We’re in an information age with any and all information at our fingertips and we should be using it. Want to learn French? Download an app. Want to know more about something that happened back in history? Google. You can go online and download the class lectures from MIT, a class people are paying thousands of dollars for. You don’t need an Ivy League degree to be educated. You just need passion.

5/ Be proud to call St. Louis home. There is so much happening in STL that a lot of people–even people in STL–are unaware of. In New York, Calmese kept hearing about the hype of St. Louis, especially Saint Louis Fashion Week, and he wanted to see STL’s growth and be part of it. Everywhere you look, STL is changing and we should all be proud to call it home.

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