Following on from our very popular interview with Lara last month, we thought we would follow on from that and find out a little more about her and her shooting style. It’s an amazing read, where we discuss things like gear, motivation, marketing, and the age old question camera or photographer.
We are going to try and do one of these indepth interviews with a RAW interviewee once a month, in video format so stay tuned.
You said that you opened your photography business when you were 17. How did you go about getting that first client, and then your second etc…
Whilst I was still studying photography at college I was starting to get regular clients such as singers, actors and dancers, they were all interested in my style for their portfolio shots. It was only natural that I would sign up as a business once these bookings started flooding in.
Starting a business at such a young age was very daunting, but my dad has been self employed for years so helped me with the initial set up of signing up as a business and the accounts. I had started photography very young but it didn’t mean to say I knew everything that most people do owning a business, I kind of taught myself as I went along and picked up advice along the way.
Whats your best tip for shooting in natural lighting. Especially if you can’t shoot at those golden hours?
I don’t ever listen to the ‘golden hours’ strategy, of course it’s good to shoot within those hours because the light is at the right point in the sky. However, you can shoot at almost any point in the day – it just depends on what results you want. Having accessories like reflectors and shooting into the light overexposed are both examples of how you can creatively play with light at different points of the day.
What motivates you?
There’s a lot of things that motivate me personally and in my work. I am grateful for a lot of things and one of them is being able to do a job I love and reflecting on the results afterwards – this is why I could never just photograph for clients, I love photographing people or styles that inspire me – and to get these best out of this and to improve I am constantly shooting personal work.
You have recently started doing photography workshops. What made you want to run workshops? Is teaching something that came naturally to you? Lastly what can people expect to learn or come away with after completing one of your workshops.
I realized that I am quite an inspiration to young photographers, especially through social media. I am not always able to reply to all e-mails and I am constantly receiving emails asking for tips and advice so I decided to put it into a separate business. I enjoy teaching because it enables me to give back and share my inspiration and ideas with others.
If someone is starting out what would you recommend their minimum kit be?
If you’re an aspiring photographer the first thing that you should realize is that equipment isn’t everything. A good camera will give you good quality pictures but the results will come from your mind.
I recommend to any photographer to start with a DSLR (one within your budget), I am not a camera salesperson but I can recommend investing in a DSLR and a good quality lens will be beneficial in the long run.
You don’t need a lot of money to invest when you’re starting to build your portfolio – I started off photographing with only natural light and to this day I still prefer it over any strobe or light you can throw my way, there’s something about natural light that is magical and it’s FREE. Use what you can around you!
You say you are marketing yourself through social media online. Do you have any sort of strategy or tips you would like to share?
Marketing through social media is very time consuming but it’s worth it. It has taken me years to get to this point of advertising and showcasing my work on various websites. With the new trends of Twitter and Facebook Pages I can definetely recommend they are successful at showcasing your work – more in the means of free advertisement rather than for money.
Are you MAC or PC?
At this point I am in the process of relocating to NYC so I’m both (until I finally move!). My macbook Pro goes everywhere with me and I use an external monitor or my Wacom Cintiq when retouching. My PC back in the UK is currently my archive and I only use if needed.
Do you ever use strobes/lighting on location shoots, if so what are your go to options?
Yes, I’ve used all kinds of strobes. I rarely use lights on location because I think it kills the natural illumination I try to go for with my shots. If I use lights it’s usually in the studio with attachments to make it soft and almost mimic natural light (I use softboxes and continuous light to get this..)
Photoshop, Lightroom or Aperture, and do you have a favourite plugin or preset?
I use Photoshop for retouching and Lightroom is what I use for archiving, file organizing, workflow and minor RAW adjustments.
Whats been your most memorably assignment and why?
I recently shot an advertorial for ELLE here in NYC. As a young girl interested in fashion I always looked up to ELLE and it was an honor to be able to photograph for the magazine and to say I was photographing for them.
How big is your average team on a shoot?
With any shoot it is vital for me to have a creative on board because it’s impossible for me to do everything myself. However, the size of the team depends on whether the shoot is personal or commissioned.
With a personal shoot I try and keep my team smaller because it’s easier to travel and accommodate so around 4-6 people on each shoot. If it’s a commissioned shoot you’re looking at extras such as a few assistants, a digital technician (as I often shoot tethered on bigger studio jobs), assistants to the creative team and hair, make up and styling… you’ll also find there will be an art director or another important role on the shoot so it’s important for me to have every angle covered.
If you could buy any piece of photographic equipment/accessory right now, what would it be?
An 27″ iMac!
Everyone has someone who inspires them for some reason or another who is yours?
There’s a lot of people in my life that inspire me, creatively I look up to photographers such as Paolo Roversi, Sally Mann, Annie Leibovitz, Steve Meisel and Ellen Von Unwerth. Personally I can say my parents have always been an inspiration and have always pushed me to believe in myself and what I do.
Is it the camera or the photographer?
The photographer 100%. I could talk about this all day! There’s a lot of creatives out there that believe a photographer is a piece of equipment, they are NOT. You don’t commission a photographer to photograph a job just to please a client even if isn’t their style. The client is buying into the photographers ‘eye’ so to speak. One cannot exist without the other, of course you need good technical knowledge also, but a creative eye speaks more than having a good knowledge of the camera.
Do you do much personal work?
All the time. I try to fit in as much as personal work as I can around commissioned work. It’s great to keep busy but as I mentioned above – it’s a way of keeping inspired and keeping my style thorough. It’s also good to keep clients interested and portfolio updated.
What is the one thing/scene/person you want to shoot that you haven’t done just yet?
Yes, it’s on my list of things to do! I have a constant inspiration folder and list that I keep with me. If I am inspired I add it to the list of shoots to do and make sure I complete it within the next few months!