Could you first introduce yourself to the reader?
Hiya I am Chloe, or ShutterSpud, or Spuddling, whatever you would prefer. I am a 24-year-old graduate and photographer of seven years. I am largely self-taught, but also went to college and university to study digital media design. I mainly shoot fashion, but I love to take photographs of nearly anything that captures my interest whether that is some great architecture or a pigeon having a bath.
What does your creative career involve? Give us the typical outline of a day?
Let's say I am working with a client who has messaged me to work on a project with them. Overall, with many shoots it spans across multiple days; planning, sourcing models or materials, location scouting etc. This process also differs from photographer to photographer, everyone has their own way of doing things.
Firstly, we would email and discuss the concept the client has and the role they would like me to play. I would then ask them to write me a short brief which I would then work on and get back to them to pitch my idea.
After a mutual agreement and locations/materials sorted we move onto the shoot day. I would turn up early, if I have not scouted the area before, to look for areas I would like to shoot in. Shoots can last as little as half an hour to a full day depending on what you are shooting. During the shoot, I’ll be showing the client photos as I go along to see if I am on the right track.
I then take the photos back home, go through them and send over unedited photos for the client to select. Once selected I will edit these photos, conversing back and forth with the client until they are happy, and the final edit is made.
What does being a photographer mean to you?
Being a photographer means being able to create content that inspires people, that makes people stop for a second and question that image. I strive for that reaction. What is this about? What inspired this? Why are they wearing that? I like doing things differently and try to create concepts that look at things in a unique way.
When I am on a photoshoot and suggest an idea, the model looks at me and gives me the “are you sure, this is crazy” I know I am on the right track for what I like to do.
What’s great about your job?
There are two things that I love about this job:
The first is meeting new people. There are so many unique talented individuals I have met that I would not have if I did not have this job, that have inspired me and motivated me to keep going. Having this job is worth it for just that.
The second is the creativity. I am VERY creative, it is who I am as a person and what makes me want to get up in the morning. If I am not creating something I am not at my happiest. This job allows you to work with awesome clients as well as come up with your own fun concepts. Having that freedom is excellent for anyone who loves to produce fun concepts and ideas.
Do you think there’s any misconceptions with your job?
“I would take better pictures if only I had a better camera.”
I do not have the most expensive or fancy camera or lenses in the world, and have stacked up boxes to make a tripod from time to time. In some sense cameras can enhance your photography, however, it is not the be-all and end-all. You can take photographs with anything – a camera phone, a soda can with a hole in it, you name it. It is all about how you compose the photos, not what you take it on.
What are the highlights of your career to date?
One of the highlights of my career is being published in a magazine for the first time. Reading that in physical form and seeing my work there made me so proud beyond belief, and gave me a motivational boost to keep ongoing.
Another highlight is somewhat different. I always thought a dream job would be working for Games Workshop as a photographer. I unfortunately never got the job, but I managed to get an interview and speak to some photographers whom I look up too. Getting that far made me proud and something I will always reflect back on, and to keep aiming towards.
What was your career path into this job? Have you also worked outside the arts?
My career path has been a bumpy one, and one in which I have worked outside the arts. I started off in retail and kept going for a while after university, but continued to work on my photography on the side. It has not been easy, and I still have a long way to go but I am slowly working there. I am determined to get there.
Can you describe your biggest challenge so far in your career? How did you overcome it?
The biggest challenge in my career so far has been how competitive this industry is. It is super hard to go up against other photographers who are amazingly talented. One job I applied for had over 1000 applicants. However, you just need to remember why you want to do this job in the first place, why you want to create photographs that other people can see. Keep working hard and everything else will come later.
You’ve been granted the ability to send a message to a 16-year-old you. What do you say?
First, stop eating pringles. Secondly, people will put you down. Photography is a hard area and very opinionated, not everyone will like what you are doing but you know what, do it anyway. We need more unique photographers out there, so let what other people say brush past you and yeah, take constructive criticism, but anything else just move forward and keep doing more.
Do you have any advice for young people interested in doing your kind of job?
Practice. Practice. Practice. Keep taking photos no matter what it is of. Even if you cannot always take your camera out with you, use your phone or take a mental image of an area you would like to photograph. Getting into that mindset will help you to come up with different compositions for pictures and ideas.
Another tip would be experience! Unfortunately, I learnt the hard way, getting in this job area is hard. Getting that experience with a company – even if it is for free – will be worth A LOT. Now I am not saying work for free always as you are worth more than that, however at the beginning to build up that rapport, you may need to do the free odd job here and there, to start building up that portfolio and client list.