I was thinking the other day about how my old interview posts used to be really popular and thought about revisiting the idea but firstly, I also get asked lots of questions myself so thought I'd throw a Q&A session and answer a few of the most popular questions I get. After siphoning out the abuse (you all know who you are!) here's the outcome:
What inspired you to become a photographer?
I’ve always loved photos and photography. My father was an enthusiastic photographer who owned an SLR camera that I was not allowed to play with, which like any child made me fascinated by it. My mother always hoarded every photo taken and I loved (and still do) pawing through them, getting nostalgic. I still have all the boxes and boxes of the prints from when my parents passed away and love to get them out to study. Looking back I now realise that he was crap at it, I’d of loved to have had a chance to share our now mutual interest with him and teach him a few things, haha!
I have always wanted to be creative in some way but was too impatient to learn an instrument and rubbish at drawing, I’m also a technology addict and photography managed to bring all these things together I guess?
How would you best describe your style.
I've always struggled with thinking that I have a style as I get bored easily and recently wrote a blog post about the subject. The best I have come up with, is that I like portraiture that is raw and emotive. I like shadows and puddles of light. I'm also a fan of a tight crop.
What fascinates you most about photography?
They say the camera never lies, which is totally untrue. I love both creating and looking at images that create fantasy like, fashion scenes. That can be by location, styling, lighting or even just the emotion/pose.
Who inspires you and why?
I'm inspired by lots of things rather than any specific person. Things like movies, TV, album covers and the thousands of images I spend my days looking at wishing I was that good! I also get really inspired by young people that are brilliant at what they do and confident enough to get out there and make it happen. At 18 I just wanted to go clubbing! If I was going to name photographers I guess I would say Rankin, Tim Walker, David Lachapelle and Miles Aldridge.
How do different models inspire you?
Their confidence. Young people who come and pose, usually in front of a team of people amaze me. The way they walk in the studio as normal, stripped back teenagers and then morph into these beautiful creatures amazes me. It's amazing how many of them are using modelling to beat their personal self confidence and anxiety demons as well!
What makes a good model?
Obviously there are different genres of modelling and each can require different things but again, confidence is a big thing. I love a quirky look, somebody that can brings something different to the image, show some personality. I'm not a huge fan of tattoos in images (Sorry all my model friends that have them!!) Being skilled in candid posing, especially facially/emotionally. Also a good sense of fashion and style, owning a wardrobe to showcase this always helps. Friendly and pro-active is a big plus as well. I don't like divas/ego's, I like people that want to come and create some magic not that thinks they can just turn up and take pretty images home of themselves.
Who is your favourite model (either famous or local) and why?
I can't say locally!! I'd never hear the end of it, so stop fishing for compliments! I love Kate Moss, she oozes coolness. Rather than traditional models I love shoots done by people like Rita Ora, Taylor Swift and Rihanna.
What makes a good muse for you?
Easy, versatility and passion. Someone that I could shoot every week and come up with something different and that has the equal passion to come up with ideas with shoots and help provide everything we need to make it happen.
How is it you can capture a personality through the lens of a camera?
I think firstly you have to have a model willing to offer it but the simple answer is relaxed fun and making the person comfortable in the environment. Once they realise nobody is there to laugh at them or catch a sneaky peak at some nudity, but that were all there to create a 'wow' image, then the model lets go and really gets into character. I have a few techniques I like to use to create this environment but if I told you, then everyone would realise what I'm doing so I can't say haha!
How do you find approaching new, female models as a male photographer? There is a lot of stigma in the industry around GWC's (Guys with cameras) and people who abuse the profession. What ways do you make models feel safe and secure on a shoot?
This is just natural etiquette to me. Maybe it's my age. I'm polite and totally transparent. I make sure the model is totally aware upfront of the concept and I make sure I'm fully aware of what they are willing to do before the shoot and this isn't questioned, if it doesn't fit the concept I look for a different model or I change the concept to suit the model. On the day I will never even try and go beyond whats agreed. I also usually make sure there is a small team present for everybody's safety (mine included) and always let the model bring a chaperone if they prefer too. Chaperones are a marmite subject in the community but they have never bothered me. The model feeling safe and comfortable is the priority for me and I've never had a problem. Sometimes you get the interfering mother that thinks they know the best pose or silly boyfriend that causes the giggles but I just make a joke out of it and ask them if they mind going in the other room for the shoot. If nudity or changes are required we have a separate room and for those models that are totally comfortable, I still am very conscious to respectfully make myself busy while changes are going on. It's all very much common sense and any photographer that doesn't act this way really shouldn't be doing it!
Do you have a trusted group of MUAs that you always use?
I'm very lucky in this department and never sure why. I have a lot of MUA's that want to work with me, almost as many requests as I get models! Obviously this is hard because, where you can't shoot the same model every week, you can build a team with regular MUA's, meaning it's hard to fit new people in. I do currently have a network of four or five that I work with regularly though, and then try to perhaps fit one new one in every four to six weeks as I like working with new people. I do like a lot from my MUA's rather than just makeup though. I like them to be a big part of my team and come up with creative ideas including making props and deciding on poses sets. All my shoots are a full team collaboration not just me directing everything.
Who is your biggest competition if any?
I'd like to say I don't do this competitively, but that's a lie, the honest answer is that I beat myself up when I see someone do a better image with a model that I've shot! This is a regular occurrence as well as Im my harshest critic and love everybody else's work!
Your favourite image that you have taken and why?
This is a toughy and I think I might surprise people with my final choice after much deliberating but it would be this one of Beffy. Purely due to the fact this was the shoot where I really felt I got exactly what I like in an image. Emotive and dark, it's where I fell in love with using a fan on the hair to create movement and even the goosebumps add a rawness to the image. I think it was a turning point in my work.
Well thats it for now and thank you to everyone that submitted questions. I found the whole process quite therapeutic and might actually do it again in the future! I might even answer the rude ones next time!