10K80 by PAGE Magazine February 3, 2021
For fashion brands, hiring a photographer can be a conflicting process. Cidenna CEO Khalil Walthour knows this all too well, and has shared advice concerning navigating the tricky maze of fashion photography.
Toxic photography has plagued the sets of many photoshoots. Brands have had to take responsibility for mishaps just as much as the photographers. In other cases, models can be inconsistent with brands and cause some issues for productions.
Cidenna, and its founder Khalil Walthour, understand the perils of fashion photography, and they have found a temporary solution.
Born and raised in Hinesville, Georgia, 45 minutes from Savannah, Walthour was known for being a photographer, before deciding to design clothes.
“I was following my older sister’s footsteps behind the lens, shooting for other brands, weddings, and events. [I photographed] sporting events for my high school as my main task [during my] high school years.”Khalil Walthour
Now living in Atlanta proper, Walthour has taken his photography with him on his sartorial conquest of the fashion industry.
Founded in the winter of 2019, Cidenna has been the brainchild of Walthour. He first explored his fashion taste during his time in grade school in which his school district enforced uniforms.
“For a person who lives for a good style, and a bit of a rebellion, I decided to accessorize the uniforms for me and some friends. ‘Bands,’ J’s, Nike’s – different socks, bandannas – [or] whatever I could get my hands on. Then I had an epiphany: Why not do this all the time? So I could express myself my way.”Khalil Walthour
His classmates would ask for his help in styling them daily. Proof that Walthour has been giving fashion advice, inside or outside of photography, for some time.
Walthour used this experience as a foundation for Cidenna. Foregoing button shirts and pants aesthetic of the school uniform, Walthour created the core of Cidenna garments opting for sweatpants and hoodies.
“It was something I could personally place my fingerprint on and breathe inspiration into. Cidenna is the product of my creative flow. It’s Vogue, it’s Street. Seeing a need in [fashion] where there was once a void,” Walthour recalls. He continues, “as someone who lives and thrives off of creativity, I search for inspirations in fashion, design, patterns, and music.”Khalil Walthour
Cidenna sales reach globally in European, Canadian, U.S., and Japanese markets. And this is accredited to how Walthour markets his brand and gives advice through his photography.
Khalil Walthour keeps Cidenna’s visuals aesthetic in a minimalist realm. He mimics his brand’s tonal aesthetic and translates that in his simple use of a backdrop, a camera, a light, and an intriguing character to style and model.
Finding models and a photographer is a challenge for any brand, but Cidenna has been through the wringer when it comes to talent. Still, the advice he gives as a fashion photographer can help out anyone in either industry.
“The experiences [for me] varied; I’ve had good and bad ones. The Worst cases were photographers who were not getting the shots I desired. Or we’re super distracted during the shoot. [They were] not completing the task, leaving me with shots I couldn’t even use for my website.”Khalil Walthour
Walthour decided as a fashion designer, to photograph his line. Usually, this isn’t recommended – unless you’re Karl Lagerfeld – as brands want to attach specific artists to their democratic and creative process.
Walthour responded to issues he faced in operating as a producer for shoots by becoming the creative director of the visual presentation of Cidenna.
Walthour is currently using a FujiFilm TX2 for studio and outdoor shoots, but holding a very editorial aesthetic in the visual presentation of Cidenna.
The Cidenna brand floats a studio aesthetic with streetwear style, nonetheless. Walthour says, “the FujiFilm TX2 can connect to my phone wirelessly, making it easier for me to view every shot as it’s being taken. I take this camera with me everywhere – it’s a very inexpensive gem.”
Focused on the vision he has for his brand, Walthour is carving a very unique lane for himself.
He says about his photography of Cidenna; “Having great visuals whether that’s photos or videos for your brand is very important to track customers and express your brand’s identity. I have to ask myself – would I shop from a brand without visuals or something appealing to look at?”
Models were just as difficult to manage at times for Walthour.
“I’ve had experiences where [models] would call out the day of the shoot,” Walthour remembers. He eventually started to contract the models. Adversely, he found that wasn’t always a fail-proof plan. Walthour remembers, “I’ve had models show up with not much experience and give me dynamic shots I could work with.”Khalil Walthour
Walthour has plans to get his brand more visibility through his brand visuals and his fashion design, of course. He intends to work with influencers and collaborate on projects with – not just photographers – but music artists, influencers, and the music industry.
Walthour certainly maintains an admiration for what photographers do. Declaring he’s “always inspired by the talents of Kombucci, Banvoa, Deana Lawson, Tyler Mitchell, and many others.”
Walthour has humbly made his brand flourish during a pandemic. And his creativity has been stopped by such and he wants his work to reflect.
“[These] photographers have jaw-dropping work and you can tell they pour out every ounce of their creative side in their edits,” Walthour claims.
“The pandemic has not stifled my creativity. If anything, it has allowed me to see a need for new styles as many of us change our places of comfort. Being on quarantine has allowed me to maintain my creative flow by using my free time to create.”Khalil Walthour