It’s relatively common that successful male models will try their hand at fashion photography. Spending all that time in front of the camera, they develop an intimate understanding of lighting and composition, not to mention hair, makeup, and styling. What’s not so common is for career photographers to have the camera turned on them. Yet that is exactly how Steven Green got his start as a sex symbol for the 2020s, landing a job as a half-naked underwear model for Savage X Fenty, pop-star Rihanna’s edgy lingerie brand’s men’s collection. Green is also not the typical 40 regular, square-jawed Adonis we normally see gracing fragrance ads and fashion runways. He is unapologetically a large man (his comp card lists him with a 50” chest, a 47 1/2” waist, and a size 2XL) who just happens to be handsome and charming with a knockout smile.
Like many photographers, Green got his start on the high school yearbook staff. Growing up in Kansas City, Missouri, by the twelfth grade he was lensing senior portraits for his friends and upon graduation started shooting for a local fashion magazine. As his portfolio grew, he began to promote his creative services on social media, eventually becoming a style influencer in his own right. (Green’s Instagram currently boasts 30.5K followers.)
“As I promoted my other services, my content started to get the attention of agencies, directors, and casting agents,” says Green. “I signed with Bridge models (with offices in NYC and London) about two and half years ago.” He was cast for the Savage x Fenty campaign in October 2020. The campaign went viral almost immediately, getting reposted by, among others, both British and Teen Vogue earlier this year. What was it like to work on such a high-profile campaign?
“It was amazing. It’s still amazing to this day. Honestly, I was not expecting that it would have that kind of impact. I was just hoping they’d post it; I’d be able to share the image on my social media, and that was it. But to say that it went viral, and was on daytime television and things like that? That was amazing.”
Since the exposure he’s been gaining as much recognition for being in front of the camera as behind it, now spending about 60% of his time as a model and 40% as a photographer
More than just a pretty face, Green tries to be mindful of everyone else on set when he’s posing. “Honestly, I try to put on my photographer, stylist, and creative director hats and try to blend those so that I can be the puzzle piece that perfectly fits the client’s vision,” says Green. “I’m thinking high-level view: What does the mood board look like? How is the lighting going to be set up? What’s the concept and the vision behind the entire campaign? That all influences how I perform and deliver on set.”
Green is also leading the charge for the fashion and creative industries’ direction towards diversity and inclusion. As a photographer, he was keenly aware that he was often walking onto the set as the only person of color.
“So often on shoots, there are only one or two people of color on the entire creative team, and then if the model is someone of color, the team is unable to deliver, because they don’t have the skillset that it takes to really execute the vision with this model,” says Green. “I see so many spreads that could have been done in a better way if they would have simply reached out to a person of color that has the right skillset and experience.”
That’s one reason why Green runs his own model workshops, bringing together creatives and models of color to develop portfolios that are up to high editorial standards. “We’re seeing progress, and a lot more diversity happening now in the fashion world,” he adds, “but it’s a slow-moving needle.”
As a man who would traditionally be lumped into the big-and-tall category, Green also sees that there’s a lot of work to do with body acceptance in the menswear industry. While the women’s market has championed larger-sized models for years now, menswear — and what he refers to as the brawn market — needs to catch up.
“When it comes to men, we’re not there yet,” says Green. “You’ll see entire sections of regular stores dedicated to larger sizes for women, but you don’t see the brawn section in as many stores. Even online, where it’s more versatile, we’re still not in that space. We’re just now getting up to a place where brawn men can have fashionable clothing. Before it was just basic t-shirts and polos and cargo shorts, and that was it. But now the market is recognizing that the brawn man does desire fashionable clothing, tailored clothing, and more prints, more colors, more vibrancy. The campaign that I did with Savage X Fenty was one of those pivotal moments to kickstart that conversation but again, it’s a slow-moving needle.”
Green points out online brands like Asos and Boohoo that are doing larger sizes particularly well, Nike’s athletic and lifestyle collections, as well as preppy stalwart Land’s End. He also likes to support smaller, independent designers who offer clothes for the brawn man.
Now that Green is firmly established as an influencer and icon, we wanted to hear about his take on style and grooming. As a photographer, it’s no surprise that he likes
“Since a lot of people are transitioning from working at home, you can definitely invest in cozy pieces that can work for the office, too,” says Green. “You can pair jogger pants with a button-up shirt, roll up the cuff and maybe do like a loafer. Also, I always advocate for tailoring: A great fit is key. If you have a lot of clothes that you’ve held onto for years, you can always take them to a tailor and do a revamp to recycle those clothes, so you don’t have to necessarily get new clothing. Style it a little bit differently or make a few alterations, and you’ve upcycled your wardrobe.”
Green is a minimalist when it comes to his skincare regimen. “I’ve always been a Dove guy, using that for everything both face and body. I have been getting into cleanser, toner, and moisturizer, figuring out the steps that it takes to maintain healthy skin. I’m also investing in liners to touch up my beard and hairline.”
He avoids using beard oils because his skin is too sensitive. He’ll apply a light oil occasionally as well as a beard balm, using a wooden comb, and a hard bristle brush to keep his beard healthy. But the basis of his self-care routine?
“I’m a cologne guy! I love a good cologne. Typically, I wear Invictus or YSL. They just make me feel good.”
Creative Director: @theofficialsteveng
Style Assistant: @reasmichelstyles
Set assist: @thejasminediane
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