How long have you been a photographer, and how did you get started?
Since I’m enjoying the attention, I’ll go for the long answer! I remember watching my dad take photos when I was young, and in some way I think the control he had over people – to mould them in some small way for the photo, was what first got me interested. I asked for a camera for my 7th birthday, and can remember every Christmas and birthday after that asking to have a film developed, and loving the anticipation of seeing the prints.
I’ve been working professionally since I finished studying (photography!) and rather than the early influence I had of ‘moulding’ a photograph, I prefer to leave that to the frame rather than the subjects and prefer candid shots, a big one being live music photography.
Is photography a hobby, a career, or something in between?
All three! It’s something I’ve never been without, although I wouldn’t know how to begin to summarise it. I know that when I was a teenager taking photos of things and people it helped me to realise how I felt about them, and also I suppose in some ways helped me to look at the people around me in more detail and understand them better. It has become very personal and a lot of myself goes into the photos. But having said that, most of my teenage photography was friends play fighting and smoking under bus shelters, so…
Can you tell us what equipment you use?
I use four main cameras, but each is not necessarily what I would be using if I had a better budget. All of my equipment is second hand, about from two budget prime lenses – a Canon 50mm and a YONGNUO 35mm. I shoot digitally on a Canon 5D mark ii with Canon speedlite 430 EXII, and on film a Canon 5 EOS, an Olympus Infinity Zoom 220 and a Mamiya RZ67 Pro. If I had a choice I’d be shooting on a Nikon D810, some version of a 35mm Leica and a Mamiya 7, but hey, one day!
We know you for ‘live’ band photography, but what else do you get up to?
“A bit of everything” would be accurate, but portraiture is my main area; band shoots included. I think you’ve probably seen some of my projects like ‘Lily; at a gig’ (over the
span of three years, seeing the same woman at gigs) and the Sour Sweets project (undecorated photos of peoples expressions whilst eating a sour sweet) and the untitled project (two photos of the same persons face. In one their clothes are off, unseen to the viewer. It’s to see the facial expression change, and how it differs for different genders). I am also Deputy Editor for 98 Wounds which a lot of photography goes into, and I pay the bills by doing weddings, baptisms and club nights!
I’m conscious of the dubious ‘man asking woman how it feels to be a woman’ line of questioning, but in your experience are women in photography still a minority, and if so does that come with any associated challenges?
This is actually a tough one, as all the male photographers know have been patronised or mistreated by people in the same way. However, I do feel that they do not feel the same threat that I do as a woman. Often I am expected to present my worth in the form of my equipment, or get double looks with the line, ‘that’s a big lens!’
Generally speaking, the photo community in London is very supportive of each other, and I would say being a female photographer has many of the same disadvantages as being a woman in many other fields; perhaps the biggest being that my size is rarely accounted for in big gigs.
I am lucky to know so many incredible photographers. Sara Amroussi Gilissen and Carolina Faruolo are just two of the amazing women regularly blowing my mind.
Are there any particular highlights of your time behind the camera?
Ahhhhh so many! But it’s always THE BEST feeling taking a photo of someone and them feeling it represents them well, being happy with the results. It can sometimes feel that you’ve managed to show someone just how amazing they are through my eyes, it’s a great connection.
The highlight for me is making people feel comfortable with the camera and bringing their personalities out for it, whether at a small gig, a wedding, or just in form of a snapshot.
What are your current favourite bands and records?
There have been some really great compilations out this last year – the ‘We Can Do It’ first compilation was how I first discovered Krush Puppies, and the Loud Women compilation opened my eyes to many great bands too. But to answer your question, I cannot stop listening to Big & the Fat, Calva Louise, Syrra, Meatraffle, HUSSY, Ghum and Indian Queens. As well as the latest USA Nails album…
Where would you like your photography to take you in the future?
I love touring with bands, so would be wonderful to go abroad and explore gigs outside of the UK! (I’m confident that wherever I go, Lily will be there).
Finally, can you show us some of the photos you’re most proud of, and tell us a bit about them?
I’ve been trying for more than ten years now to put a definitive portfolio together, and I‘ve been too harsh a self-critic to ever manage it. So here are a few I’m liking at the moment!
I’d like to tell you about them and as I’m sure you know, I can talk forever… But I hope that looking at them tells you what you need to know (else cancel everything, I’ve failed miserably).