In the two years since Rachel Chandler began shooting for purple-diary.com, the online home of Olivier Zahm's nudie fashion bible Purple, the photographer has learned a thing or two about capturing moments. "The object is to get mood across -- a feeling," she explains. "You want readers not just to know who was there, but also what it felt like." Conveying a sense of atmosphere is one of the 23-year-old's strong suits, whether that's through shooting her friends at private dinners or clubs, or portraits taken on travels, like of the actor Michael Pitt exploring his snake-charming side in Marrakesh. Chandler's skills behind the lens and her insider status have endeared her not only to Zahm, but also to Vogue.com, where she is on contract as a contributing photographer.

The L.A. native moved to New York to study art history at NYU's Gallatin School in the mid-'00s and while taking classes, she interned for a number of arts organizations -- like Reena Spaulings and the Whitney Museum of American Art -- and for photographers, including Patrick Demarchelier. She also DJ'd on the side at the likes of Avenue, the Standard Hotel and the now-defunct Beatrice Inn. "There are a lot of people with slashes these days -- model-slash-actor," she explains. "I never wanted to DJ, but I've wanted to be a photographer
my whole life."

Things began to pick up for her professionally after she met Zahm through mutual acquaintances; he asked her to contribute to his website, though she didn't have a portfolio at the time. She's since built up a collection of intensely personal photographs -- leading to a sort of public exposure she's not entirely comfortable with. And yet, she understands that the secret to her success is in conveying intimacy. "I know I need to pay my dues and learn from people who have more experience," she says, "but the culture that surrounds me is different than it is for older photographers. I have a different perspective to offer."


RACHEL WEARS SWEATER BY MARC JACOBS.


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