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- How to stand out with a fresh take on creative photography
With this month’s read, you will get: Industry Insights, Creative Juxtaposition, Human photography, Direction, Illustration, Networking, Budget-friendly equipment, Tips on presenting your portfolio, Tips to get started as a freelance photographer, Working on a video with the Weeknd ABOUT THE PHOTOGRAPHER 📸 Valentine Reinhardt is a creative photographer based in Paris and currently works with twenty-twenty agency in London. Having begun her career as an Art Director with an advertisement agency called ‘Leg,’ she shared: ‘I didn’t know what I wanted to do, so I said to myself, let’s try this and I can also focus on my personal development. Everyone in my family said that it’s an amazing opportunity that I shouldn't let go of.’ She worked with them for 6 good years. She added, “It was after several years down the road that I realised that I just want to create my own imagery - my own work - something that is unique to Valentine Reinhardt.” WORKING AS A PHOTOGRAPHER & AN ART DIRECTOR 🎥🎞 What made you quit your job and how did you get started as a freelance photographer? Honestly, it was a bit frustrating for me - to come up with creative ideas and concepts and hand them over to someone else to create images out of them. However, because of this job, I was able to network with some big clients in the advertising world. I offered myself up as a photographer for the campaign and from what I heard, I did a great job! Next thing you know, I quit the agency and I have been working as a freelance photographer for over six years now. I could not be happier! Did you face any sexual discrimination being a female photographer? Well, sometimes. When I was working as an Art Director and working with male photographers, I witnessed some pretty mind-boggling things. Like one time this photographer wanted to have sex with a very young model and the other time he locked himself and the model in the bathroom during the shoot. I was really shocked because I was really young. I feel as a woman you can always feel certain things that a producer does that he wouldn’t do, had he been working with a male. But again, it was a long time ago and I feel that things have gotten better now and these things will not happen again. LOST IN FIRE: Art Direction for a video with the Weeknd! How was that experience? 🤩 Well, the music video was directed by my husband and he asked me to help him with creating concepts and art direction. As an art director, my main work was to imagine and create the sequences, creating a storyboard, stage design and mood and things like that. It was a great experience really and I got a chance to create an amazing video for Gesaffelstein and the Weeknd. I have also created illustrations for Tame Impala! FRUIT: This seems like a very interesting project! What was the idea and motive behind combining fruits and female bodies? The Fruit series was a personal project. It mixes shapes, colours, and textures to create a sense of awakening. The idea was based on the juxtaposition of a woman’s body with fruits, flowers and plants - to portray as an object of desire. In today’s world, women are objectified everywhere - in a magazine cover or an advertisement for a beverage. This project was a very ‘sensual’ one indeed because I wanted viewers to see the images in a certain way, like fruits, it is something that you can taste or smell, making them ponder and question how they see a woman’s body. It was done to accentuate the thought that they want to smell them or eat them using bright colours. She added, ‘Women are my biggest source of inspiration in nature.’ The images act as a catalyst for desire, highlighting the relationship between flesh and food. The consumable female body is here presented as an object of desire; a hybrid creature staged in a pop and greedy universe. From a photographer to a director: How did you start directing music videos? Which software do you use? I started making artwork for Sebastian Tellier and he liked it so much that he called me up and said, ‘We HAVE to make a music video together.’ Love by Sebastian was the first time I created illustrations and directed an animation movie. I think when you’re a photographer and an illustrator, directing videos comes naturally to you! Besides, clients always need new and exciting content. For creating niche & quality content, sometimes I paint my ideas on a canvas and then retouch them on Adobe Photoshop. I also use Procreate on my Ipad - super easy to use and super cheap as well! WHAT’S IN YOUR BAG? 🧳 Which camera do you carry in your bag when you go out for a shoot? I usually shoot with my Canon 5D Mark III. Since I’m not a conventional photographer, I always keep my Ipad pro and my iPhone with me. With these three on you, you can basically do anything you want! I believe having the latest iPhone will always be helpful in photography. What’s a budget-friendly equipment that you would recommend for a photographer that is under £200? Well, everything is so expensive that nothing specific comes to my mind. But I guess I would recommend getting your hands on a second-hand iPhone perhaps? I think it does the job especially when you’re still learning the basics of photography. TIPS FOR YOUNG CREATORS 📲 - To get commissioned work Maintaining your unique style on Instagram and reaching out to different clients and brands. The best way to get started is to build your personal portfolio and style. Ask your friends or family to do some modelling for you. Make some really cool series, post it on Instagram, try to send it to clients, magazines and individuals - if they don’t answer, do it again and again until you perfect your craft and people get back to you because one day all of it will payback! - To present their portfolio Luckily or unluckily, Instagram is today’s reality. I think having a strong Instagram profile will always help you to showcase your niche style, your portfolio and your personality at the same time. - Personal message ‘Don’t listen to people who say it’s gonna be difficult’ Because everything is going to be difficult. The choice is yours what difficult thing you want to do in your life... and its best if its something you really enjoy doing. Watch out for our next addition of Creative Chats! For more content by Equal Lens, visit our page on the ERIC App!
- Where do you start after getting a degree in photography?
With this month's read, you will get: Industry Insights, Working class & fashion trends, Human photography, Angles & Perspectives, Importance of Poses, Finding paid jobs, Film Cameras, Budget friendly equipment,Tips on presenting your portfolio ABOUT THE PHOTOGRAPHER 📸 Serena Brown is a 23 year old, fashion and documentary photographer in London who graduated in 2018 with a degree in B.A Photography from Falmouth University. As of today, she works with many fashion brands like Nike, Refinery29 and Converse but did she really know WHERE to start from? When asked, she said: ‘I was definitely like, what am I gonna be doing now and how am I gonna get a job out of this degree?’ For the first six months, she was working in retail and tried to shoot whatever she could - Friends, music gigs, family members - Just to keep her momentum going. She also applied for a lot of jobs online, including plenty she wasn’t qualified for but her grit and determination helped her to get her first internship with Refinery29, Inc. as a Photo Intern. This later turned into a Creative Assistant’s role. She said that, ‘This opportunity allowed me to have my foot in the door at a very early stage, which helped me learn both the creative and business side of photography.’ Serena entered a competition hosted by Equal Lens which introduced her to what they do. She said, ‘What they do is amazing, it really is, and has brought me a lot of opportunities. It’s always nice to have that kind of support.’ BACK A YARD How is it that the working class influence high fashion and then get left behind? The series, Back a Yard, highlights the fact that tracksuits were brought into style by the working class but the idea was later monetised by high end labels and their overflowing cash. "The impact that young working-class people have on fashion trends is often neglected when it is adopted by a brand and consequently these trends become inaccessible to those who originally inspired them.” Working alongside designer Georgia Borenius, Serena created three bootleg high fashion tracksuits which cost about £20 a pop. The series shows how effortlessly stylish working class kids are and reclaims a look that has been demonised by hefty price tags of big brands. WORKING AS A FASHION & DOCUMENTARY PHOTOGRAPHER 👟🎞 Serena believes that creatives should post content regularly on Instagram as well as use it as a platform to share their personality. ‘People want to work with you because they can see you are a nice person to work with and that can get you a long way,’ she added. When did you realise that photography was for you? ‘Quite recently, actually. I have always loved taking photos but I think it was never presented to me as something that could be a career or something that I could actually make money from,’ said Serena. She added, ‘When I was a kid, I was literally clicking pictures of everything and anything & when I turned 16, I started to realise that I could be creative with it and create concepts around it. With a little bit of determination and drive, I have actually managed to get paid as well, which is fantastic.’ Why do you like to photograph humans? What is it in different cultures and ethnicities that calls you to photograph them? ‘I think it's what I connect with. I have really enjoyed meeting new people, understanding new cultures and there was so much to learn from, from others. I wanted to bring people to the forefront so they can share their stories with others.’ ‘Sometimes it even feels that the camera comes secondary to doing that - cause usually we just have a really long chat and then I just click a photo. But I do feel that great photos generally come from those really natural and authentic conversations that I have with people,’ she added. Do you think it was difficult for you to get started as a woman? How did you find paid jobs at your early stage? I have a lot of support from other women in the creative industry and definitely had some fantastic mentors - I would not be where I am today without them. I think Instagram has been huge for me in getting jobs and I think it will be for the rest of my career. Our generation definitely understands social media and they should use this to their advantage - connecting with people. I have even had jobs from America and that only happened because of Instagram… Building relationships is the whole career, really. Class of Covid-19 is an amazing & inspired project. Why did you choose to photograph them without any poses? I think I just wanted them to be natural and confident. I did not want the project to be about me or my direction, so I even asked them to wear whatever they want. I do corporate posing and direction on how to pose but I usually let my subjects lead! I find it quite awkward sometimes when you have something in your mind and you tell them to do it and it doesn’t translate well on their body. I let them do things naturally and if I catch them doing something I like then I just tell them to pause. What tips would you give on human photography? The best tip is to communicate with your subject and empathise with them on a human level. Just having a conversation throughout about how they’re feeling, being nice to them and all those small efforts to break the ice before you actually point a camera at them can be very helpful. How important is using different angles & perspectives in photography? I think it’s important but it also comes down to experimenting. Every situation is different so you can’t really apply a set rule or angle at every shoot. I think having a bank of different creative ideas can help you build interesting perspectives, especially when you’re storytelling and there’s more of a narrative to it. You can think how you can include the things around the subject that can help you to influence the story and also try to bring in the location to set the mood of the image. Allowing your viewers to question, ‘Why is that object there?’ or ‘Why only that colour?’ can help you to get them involved in your story even more. WHAT’S IN YOUR BAG? 🧳 Which camera do you carry in your bag when you go out for a shoot? I usually shoot with a film camera and at the moment I have a Mamiya RZ67. For my digital photography, I use my Canon 5D Mark IV and I also have a Canon EOS 300. So I usually juggle between these three depending on the type of project. Along with them, I always keep extra batteries for my film camera, charger, SD cards, laptop and hard drives. I try to keep EVERYTHING just to be sure, no matter how heavy my bag is. What’s a budget friendly equipment that you would recommend for a photographer that is under £200? I would definitely recommend getting on Ebay and getting your hands on second hand film cameras. Maybe spending a little less than £200 so you can save some money for film too! TIPS FOR YOUNG CREATORS 📲 - To get commissioned work Maintaining your unique style on Instagram and reaching out to different clients and brands. - To present their portfolio LESS IS MORE - Having a distinct style is more important than showing a thousand things that you can do. It’s always more beneficial to have your specific style so people can know that they can come back for you for a particular project. Clients need it to be a sure shot that whatever they are asking to do is gonna look a certain way, so working on yours style and reflecting that in your portfolio. - Personal message ‘Keep up the momentum!’ Momentum is the key for pushing any hard situation and picking yourself up after every setback because there are gonna be loads of setbacks. Keeping up the momentum drives you to a place where you can get where you want to be. Watch out for our next addition of Creative Chats! For more content by Equal Lens, visit our page on the ERIC App!
- A still life photographer shares how she started working with BIG brands
With this month’s read, you will get: Industry Insights, Working with brands, Creating Campaigns, Networking, Female Photographers, Budget friendly equipment, Working within a team, Tips from a commercial photographer ABOUT THE PHOTOGRAPHER 📸 Starting with an A-level photography course at the age of 16, followed by three years at Nottingham Trent University and six long years as an assistant, Catherine Losing did lots and lots of learning before she started out on her own. While studying, she used to photograph bands and mentioned that a part of the reason was that she could go to gigs for free! She said, ‘If you have a camera, it can be a free pass to see cool things!’ Being a woman, the journey to becoming a successful commercial photographer wasn’t as easy. She mentioned, ‘A couple of years ago, when directing a TV commercial, the runner sent me up to the make-up room because he just presumed that being a woman, I must be the make-up artist!’ She added, ‘Although, now I see a lot more women on set. Equal Lens is doing loads of positive things to get women on set & women shooting. Things are getting better.’ Portrait of a Village (film link) Almost a year ago, Catherine shot and directed an inspiring documentary on a village that her family had to leave in the 1940’s. Titled ‘Portrait of Village’, she told ERIC that her grandfather who lived in that village, fought for the Nazis and ended up in Britain as a prisoner of war. Shot in Odessa, Ukraine, the documentary began as an exploration of her family history but ended up being a celebration of the wonderful Ukrainian villagers that have replaced her Black Sea German relatives. ‘It was like being on the British TV show, ‘Who do you think you are?’ said Catherine. Stylistically its quite different from what she shoots commercially. She also had her 18 month old baby travelling with her and on the shoot! WHAT’S IN YOUR BAG? 🧳 Which camera's in your bag when you go out for a shoot? “For TV commercials and advertising photography, I hire everything as the kit varies so much and it's all insanely expensive. When I'm doing personal projects or editorials I often shoot on my Canon 5D Mark II. It's really old but great for little photo shoots and I also shot my documentary on it.” What kit would you suggest for a newbie? “Creatives that are starting out shouldn't get too hung up on equipment. Try to avoid using a kit wish list as an excuse to not getting started. I honestly think it's better to be getting on with things, even if it's shooting and recording on a phone, rather than not doing anything at all.” Can you recommend a budget friendly piece of equipment under £200? “The cheapest and most beneficial one - cardboard. You can build a reflector using cardboard and tin foil to bounce light onto the subject and the set. It’s always useful and comes in quite handy, especially in still life photography.” WORKING AS A COMMERCIAL PHOTOGRAPHER 💪🏻 You mainly work commercially - for brands. Was this a conscious choice or did it just happen as you progressed in your career? ‘I one hundred percent wanted to earn a living from photography and directing. I assisted a lot of commercial photographers and it was definitely something I wanted to do,’ said Catherine. She added that she loves the creative challenge that it brings - brands coming to her and wanting to put her spin on what they want to do. It’s creative problem solving and definitely something she has enjoyed over the years and it helps to earn good money - I’VE GOT BILLS TO PAY! What are the difficulties you faced while working for brands? ‘There are a lot of people to please.’ From creatives at the ad agency, producers with the budget, then the clients from the brand and the clients’ bosses. ‘Sometimes you can go through the whole production process and they want to change something quite major.’ ‘But other times it’s great and everybody’s on the same page and it happens quite organically but you’ve just got to be prepared for all this, I think.’ she further added. Problems also arise around budget when the client wants something extravagant but it is tight on money, so as a creative you have to find the right balance, be flexible and ensure everyone’s happy! How do you create creative campaigns for brands you don’t know much about? ‘The ad agency sends a brief of what they want to do and where they want to go but I tend to do A LOT of research,’ said Catherine. She likes to go way back and look at old TV commercials and print campaigns to get an idea of how the company has progressed over the years. ‘If it’s a new company, find out who started the company and why, silly things like the brand’s colours and style which you can reflect back in the treatment that you do for them.’ Catherine recommends all aspiring photographers to do extensive research as you will be competing with at least three other brilliant photographers for the same job. KNOWLEDGE IS POWER! Which was your first brand and how did you approach them? What 's really expected from a fresh & young creative? ‘I used to work for a lot of magazines, that’s where I first started out.’ Catherine’s first brand was ‘Farfetch.’ They wanted to create an advertorial and she had simply shared her physical portfolio with them via post. The companies want a fresh candidate and for it not to be a massive budget- so keeping the cost down, being quite flexible and being very collaborative. On set you have to work together with the different creatives, it’s essentially a team effort that makes it all come together. How do you stem an idea from scratch? Any tips for young creatives on how to shortlist the good ideas in their head and get started? Creating a moodboard on InDesign - with lots of photographs, reference points and youtube links helps you to figure out whether or not they are doable and interesting. Catherine said, ‘Even if it’s a personal project, if you break it down into a moodboard as if you are selling it to somebody else, it can really help you figure out if it’s a goer or not.’ She further added, ‘But equally, never think an idea is rubbish.’ Journaling and keeping track of your ideas is essential because they can become relevant when a different job comes in. As a creative, it’s great to have loads of ideas that you can dip into whenever you want. PLANNING ALWAYS HELPS! What other skills are important to have as a photographer? ‘If you want to be a photographer, definitely work on your retouching skills because it can save you an absolute fortune,’ said Catherine. It’s an amazing skill to have and makes all the difference in getting a job. Another interesting fact that she mentioned is, ‘I have NEVER been on a professional shoot where they use Adobe Lightroom.’ Everyone in the industry uses Capture One to capture pictures. ‘I highly recommend downloading the trial version and getting your head around it,’ she added. TIPS FOR YOUNG CREATORS 📲 - To get commissioned work Sending in your physical portfolio via post to editors and creative agencies. With everything turning digital, you can stand out and they will remember you if they have your photos stacked up on their desk! - To present their portfolio Keep your digital portfolio neat and clean, make sure your contact information is easily accessible and you seem approachable. The simpler it looks, the better! - Personal message ‘You make your own luck!’ ‘All opportunities come from contacting people, putting the time in to bring your ideas to life and publishing them so the world can see it. Every time you try and push yourself forward, it opens up new opportunities.’ Watch out for our next addition of Creative Chats! For more content by Equal Lens, visit our page on the ERIC App!