303 Style Profile is an ongoing series highlighting unique locals and their incredible style and stories. Go here to see past profiles.
Fashion and beauty photographer Rebecca Slaughter believes that when you look good and feel good, nothing can stop you. Known around Denver for her edgy photography, unapologetic attitude, and being part of the Ruckus Apparel family, Slaughter encourages others to work hard for what they desire. Here, she opens up about her fashion sense, her upbringing, and how confidence can be the most important accessory.
303: Tell us about your personal style.
Rebecca Slaughter: Everyday is a reflection of me. One day you’ll see me in all black and then the next day in a floral dress. I can find a piece at Target or at the thrift store any day and rock high fashion looks. I wasn’t allowed to wear makeup until after high school, which is why I enjoy doing makeup so much. I find what fits and goes with everything because I need to get to work. It’s a way of self-care for me. Running a business is really hard because no one is keeping track of the endless hours you put in. Doing my makeup lets me know I still care about me. When my eyeliner wings, and I’ve prayed to the Lord that it wings, I feel so good. My lashes are on so nothing can bother me.
303: Who are your favorite style icons?
RS: Coco Rocha, because of her high fashion look and because it seems like she doesn’t care what anyone thinks. I’ve always admired Tyra Banks, she’s badass, she’s curvy, she can glam it up, and she owns herself so well. Mary Lawless Lee of @happilygrey inspires me to dress and she embodies who she is. I’m less inspired by people’s looks and more by who they are and how they own what they wear.
303: What does your wardrobe look like during a shoot?
RS: I hadn’t realized I dress differently than other photographers, I wear heels almost every day, including shoot days, unless I’m in the mountains. I wear my typical glam, eyelashes on, typical dress, anything I can wear around some tolerable heels. My eyelashes get stuck in my viewfinder all the time.
“I’m not very attached to my things even though I’m obsessed with fashion. When I was younger, there was an incident where all my stuff got taken away from me and ever since then, my perspective has been ‘If I lose it, I need to work hard to get it again.”’
303: You come across as a very confident, determined and unapologetic woman. How did you build that and what advice would you give to others who’d like to feel that way?
RS: Modeling is something I got interested in randomly but if I’m going to do something, I want to be my best self. I wanted to sign with an agency, go to Los Angeles, and I tried to sign with both major agencies here in Colorado and got nixed because my hips were too big. When things like that happen to you, you can’t get defeated. Instead, I said “You know what I am really good at? Photography. And you know whose souls I’m going to crush? Yours.” I also live a life where the thought of regret fuels a lot of my decisions. If I don’t go on this trip, or go out of town to shoot this model or do this shoot because I’m so tired, will I regret it? If the answer yes, then I better go. I also had a humble upbringing, I grew up in a trailer park and shopping at the thrift store. My grandmother is a stubborn, strong female badass who paints houses outdoors. My mom is this Latina lesbian powerhouse, who came out of the closet when it wasn’t cool to come out. Between those two different but equally strong women, I can walk with confidence. My mom told me “You don’t give a fuck what other people think about you. You do what you want to do, you dress how you want to dress, you see what you want to see.”
303: Your entire closet is on fire and you can only save one thing. What are you grabbing?
RS: The black fur coat I’m wearing for this article. My grandfather gave it to me. I’m not very attached to my things even though I’m obsessed with fashion. When I was younger, there was an incident where all my stuff got taken away from me and ever since then, my perspective has been “If I lose it, I need to work hard to get it again.”
303: Besides photography, you have a strong association with Ruckus Apparel. How did that come about?
RS: I met Josh Schmitz seven years ago at a mutual photographer friend’s studio. We were both trying to learn and get a name in the industry. Over time I would do more Ruckus editorial shoots, Ruckus lookbooks, both modeling and shooting. I really just wanted to be around a person and brand that represented much more than clothing. I haven’t been introduced to someone by Josh that I don’t love. So when I felt that community and closeness, I stuck around. I became Josh’s assistant a few years back, got behind the scenes of the website, social media, and helping build Bellwether, the storefront for Ruckus and enjoyed seeing this come to life. The more I knew about Ruckus, the better photographer I was for the brand. And we were just a machine. We’re a community of badasses and we’re like a gang that loves each other. Not everybody gets to be around people who genuinely care about them, why wouldn’t you want to stay strong friends with people that care about you?
303: Recently, someone emailed Ruckus about their discontent with your portrayal of models with scars and burns. What was your response?
RS: I felt a few different things but I waited a few days before I responded on the internet. First off, there [are] 12,000 people who are looking at my Instagram page, so it’s important for me to be thoughtful when I respond to things like this. Second, I have models that look to me for friendship and they want to know that I have their backs. I’ve never been the photographer to liquefy my girls or make their cheeks more hollow. I’ve modeled and I know what it feels like, so I’m not going to do that to them. I leave stretch marks, birthmarks, and the only thing I photoshop are temporary things like scratches and blemishes. We all have scars and marks that we’re born with or get along the way, it’s just who you are. As a photographer, I think we have a duty to make people look and feel the best that they do. So when someone writes this email attacking this small thing, I didn’t want to attack an individual that raises issues like that, because the way we react and respond to the world is a reflection of us. I just hope she saw what I explained on Instagram and hope she books a session with me, because I’m about building people up.
303: What advice would you give beginning photographers and models?
RS: No one gives a fuck about your gear and neither should you. Stop over-editing. Be patient. For everybody that thinks I got this handed to me, I’m seven years in. I started in high school. Gary Vaynerchuck says “Always eat shit. If you’re not ready to eat shit then you’re not ready for your career.” Are you willing to shoot before work, at lunch, after work? This is not an overnight deal. Fuck your ego. Are you willing to network when it’s uncomfortable, are you willing to innovate and Google what’s best for your business? If you’re willing, do it, and when it’s hard, keep doing it. And one day you’ll be really happy that you’re not building someone else’s dream.
Photos by Noah Berg