Photographer Dixie Dixon on camera tech, inspiration, and shooting fashion

fashion photographer dixie dixon
Hillary Grigonis/Digital Trends

Dixie Dixon’s photography is often laced with romance and allure — but to get there, she started by shooting everything from Little League games to weddings. Now a highly lauded fashion and lifestyle photographer and Nikon ambassador, her images have graced the cover of magazines and major ad campaigns.

Meeting Dixon in person, it’s easy to see why the Texas-based photographer can capture that spark of romance and a playful look even on a commercial set. Her southern voice and easy-going personality are quick to put models at ease, while her creativity helps her orchestrate sets, wardrobe, and makeup from an idea.

Dixon (@iamdixiedixon) calls photography the “outward expression of inner significance” — and it’s an idea that’s apparent in her work. We sat down with the fashion photographer in Orlando, Florida, to talk tech, fashion, and photography. The following interview has been edited for clarity and length.

Digital Trends; How has camera technology changed since you started?

Dixie Dixon: I was one of the last classes in college to work with film. One of my first cameras was the Nikon F3 film camera. We were actually in the darkroom, developing film. I love that whole process of shooting manual and watching it come to life. I have a real appreciation for film. When we switched over to digital, it made everything so much faster. It allows us to share instantly which has been amazing too. I think they both have a really nice place in the industry.

How has mirrorless changed the industry?

Mirrorless has honestly saved my back a lot. The new Nikon Z is amazing and it’s incredible for video as well. I’m going to be doing a lot more video these days, and for that, mirrorless is perfect. I’m really excited to explore the video capabilities even more.

What are your thoughts on the DSLR versus mirrorless debate?

One of the things that I really love about the mirrorless is that it allows new photographers to learn a lot faster. In camera, you can instantly see your settings change. When I change the ISO, aperture or shutter speed, I can instantly see that in the viewfinder before I take a photo. I think that that capability is an amazing part of mirrorless[A] DSLR is a bit harder to learn because you can’t see that instantly in the viewfinder.

I’m going to be doing a lot more video these days, and for that, mirrorless is perfect.

I think both are really great tools. I love my D850, I love my new Z7, and they are kind of working hand-in-hand for what I do. I shoot the Z7 on location a lot and for video, and I’m still using my big DSLR in the studio.

How do you get started planning the set, wardrobe, and everything that goes into a fashion shoot?

For each production, everything depends on the client that we are shooting for. If they have a concept and vision for what they want, we have to follow that and find things that really fit that vision. If I’m shooting personal work, I’m really inspired by different movies and films and things like that. I can take that into my photography and start planning the wardrobe…It all comes together organically in the final images.

For photographers new to working with models, what advice would you give them?

I think my biggest advice for working with models is to not pose them. Posing tends to stifle, especially models that know how to move and pose for the camera seamlessly. When you start posing them it just makes them look stiff and not organic. 

Honestly, just guide them and tell them your vision first and the feeling you want to evoke. I think that’s the best way to direct models and as they are moving, you can give them some different techniques like walking towards the camera and playing with their wardrobe. That kind of thing works better than just hardcore posing. I don’t pose at all when I shoot.

What advice would you give to new photographers?

Find a niche and shoot what you love. Honestly, these days, you can make a living doing anything. It’s the perfect age to really go after your passion. If you find something unique in a niche that you shoot over and over again, you’re going to really make a name for yourself. If you are shooting more general, it’s really hard to make it these days because people like to really associate you with a certain genre of photography. If you can find something that you are crazy passionate about and shoot it over and over again, a certain subject matter, a certain lighting, whatever it is that evolves into your style, showcase that on your website and those types of clients will be attracted to your work.

Product Review

You won't buy Microsoft's Surface Hub 2S, but it could still change your life

The Microsoft Surface Hub 2S wants to change the way you collaborate at work. That’s a lofty goal most devices fail to achieve, but the unique Hub 2S could be an exception. And trust us – you’re going to want it.

Light on price but rich on features, these are the best cameras for students

Need pro-level features on a budget? The best cameras for students mix advanced features with a more palatable price point. From $2K entry level full frame cameras to $600 budget picks, here are five of the best cameras for students.

Panasonic Lumix S1R vs. Nikon Z 7: When megapixels matter, which do you choose?

The 47-megapixels Lumix S1R and 46-megapixel Nikon Z 7 are the two highest-resolution, full-frame mirrorless cameras on the market. The S1R features a high-resolution mode that can take 187MP images, but the Nikon is lighter and cheaper.
Product Review

Equal parts tool and toy, the Lensbaby Edge 35 bucks photographic tradition

The Lensbaby Edge 35, part of the Composer Pro optic swap system, creates tilt-shift-like blur without the tilt-shift price. Made for photographers who want find tradition boring, it opens up new ways to work with blur.

Fujifilm X-T30 vs. Sony A6400: Midrange mirrorless cameras compared

The Fujifilm X-T30 and Sony A6400 are two of the best cameras you can buy for under $1,000, but which should you choose? Each has an edge in certain situations which makes picking a winner difficult, but here's how they compare.

Photography news: Sony brings Eye Autofocus to critters via A.I.

In this week's photography news, the Sony a7 III and a7R III have some new capabilities, thanks to updated firmware. Lexar teases a crazy fast 1,000MB/s memory card, while Vimeo launches bulk upload possibilities.
Emerging Tech

Awesome Tech You Can’t Buy Yet: Halfbikes, VR for all your senses, and more

Check out our roundup of the best new crowdfunding projects and product announcements that hit the web this week. You may not be able to buy this stuff yet, but it's fun to gawk!

The best budget-friendly GoPro alternatives that won’t leave you broke

Cold weather is here, and a good action camera is the perfect way to record all your adventures. You don't need to shell out the big bucks for a GoPro: Check out these great GoPro alternatives, including some 4K cameras, that won’t leave…

Etch-A-Snap camera puts a modern spin on one of your favorite childhood toys

Can't draw on an Etch A Sketch? Snap a photo with the Etch-A-Snap and the camera will draw out the scene for you. The weirdly cool camera designed by Martin Fitzpatrick replaces the usual LCD screen with an old-school Etch A Sketch.

The Black Eye Pro Cinema Wide G4 is a knockout lens for any smartphone

Where cheaper wide-angle accessory lenses add distortion, and costlier models don't always justify their higher prices, the Black Eye Pro Cinema Wide G4 offers a valuable balance of modest price and high quality optics.

Family feud: Huawei P30 Pro vs. P20 Pro vs. Mate 20 Pro camera shootout

The Huawei P30 Pro's camera has an amazing zoom mode and low light capabilities. But take these away, and how does it compare when facing its sibling phones, the P20 Pro and Mate 20 Pro, taking regular photos?

Nikon Z 7 vs. Sony A7R III: High-res mirrorless cameras compared

The Nikon Z 7 and Sony A7R III both have over 40 megapixels, but which one comes out on top? With similar image quality, the answer comes down to speed, autofocus, battery life, and design.

The Canon EOS Rebel T6 DSLR camera gets a steep price cut at Walmart

Modern smartphones can snap pretty impressive pics, but if you want pro-quality photos, you need a dedicated digital camera. The Canon EOS Rebel T6 is one of the best entry-level DSLR cameras on the market, and it’s on sale right now for…

Sweet 16: Wacom’s Cintiq 16 pen display makes retouching photos a breeze

Wacom’s Cintiq pen displays are usually reserved for the pros (or wealthy enthusiasts), but the new Cintiq 16 brings screen and stylus editing to an approachable price. Does it cut too much to get there?