SOME CONSIDER escaping high school free of emotional scars a major achievement. Nicholas Wilson, on the other hand, heads for graduation with a rep as one of Portland’s hottest fashion photographers.
Wilson is a 17-year-old senior at Beaverton’s Arts and Communication Magnet Academy. Over the last year, he’s also amassed a portfolio befitting a pro twice his age. Clients like shoe trendsetters Solestruck, fashion line Isaac Hers, and web shop Yo Vintage clamor for his lens.
Wilson’s photography career began when his mom bought him a point-and-shoot for an eighth-grade school trip to Washington, DC. Two years later, the young phenom had shot dozens of senior portraits for his peers and begun assisting on photo shoots with established local photographers Alicia Rose and Lavenda Memory.
“He has a natural sense of composition and an intuitive sense of what makes a picture interesting,” Rose says. “His point of view is quite distinctive. It’s going to be fun to watch him grow into himself.” Through one assistant job, Wilson met longtime local designer Holly Stalder, who booked him to shoot some of her pieces. The resulting photos became a Facebook hit, and more bookings soon followed.
Wilson credits his lack of legal adulthood for both his fresh aesthetic—clean shots in both color and black and white, infused with a dreamy feel—and his full calendar. “There’s something to be said for a fresh eye and youthful perspective,” he says. “People want my work because it’s not the same thing you might see from somebody who’s been doing it 20 years.”
What’s up next for the little Leibovitz? Already accepted to college at the Brooks Institute of Santa Barbara, Wilson is pondering deferring and moving to New York to train under industry bigwigs and, in general, put his stamp on the world.
Or, as the wunderkind puts it: “I want to just keep doing what I love and see where it takes me.”