By Sarah Harley
Updated Jul 17, 2018 @ 3:04 pm
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Russell James’ legendary photos can be found in some of the world’s biggest international publications. But, the Victoria’s Secret photographer wasn’t always a wizard behind the camera. Consider his story some major inspiration for all the wandering-creative types out there. 

The author of Backstage Secrets didn’t find his way to the craft until his late twenties. And before that? During a series of odd jobs, he joined the police force working on a “protection team” that required scouting locations, and taking photos to plan how he'd watch out for certain VIPs (including the Pope). As different as that may be from capturing models through his lens, it was then that James’ “love affair” with photography began.

Years later, a big break came for James, when he was asked to shoot Tyra Banks for the swimsuit edition of Sports Illustrated. One of his images ran on the cover of the 1996 issue, which made history as the first time a black model would be featured in that coveted spot. That was the beginning of a fashion career for him, including more than a decade documenting the Victoria's Secret Fashion Show, which his book explores. Watch the video above to find out.