An interview with Emma-Jane Lewis, Fashion Photographer15th October 2018 // Bronya Bouchia
If you’re considering a career in fashion photography and want to find out more about the field, make sure to read our interview with London-based fashion photographer, Emma-Jane Lewis.
Emma decided to take the plunge and move to London 6 years ago, to grow her profession as a fashion photographer. Since then, she’s successfully developed her own style, which has led her to work with various clients on creative campaigns involving Billie Piper, Vogue Williams, Janet Devlin and Zara Holland, to name a few. Emma also works on imagery for social media campaigns for clients and their Instagram profiles, a service she sees growing in popularity in the near future.
Here in our interview with Emma, you can find out more about what motivated her to become a fashion photographer, as well as the words of wisdom she would offer to anyone looking to get started in the niche.
Why did you choose to become a photographer?
I loved the creative control and vision that photography could provide. It allowed me to mix so many elements and team members together to create a particular look. Allowing me to often live in a fantasy concept world that allowed me to get paid for the pleasure!
What drew you to focus on fashion photography as your niche?
Fashion photography can be one of the hardest areas, but to me it was the most creative. With diversity in PR, Editorial and lookbook...There was enough diversity to allow my style to fit into a commercially viable product for clients. I loved being able to direct a model to create a certain character and emotion, as well as the styling and set design to allow the viewer to feel part of this new world that they saw through an image.
How would you describe your work to someone who had never seen it?
I would say very dreamy and ethereal. It always has to have a narrative rather than the model just standing there in a nice outfit. Often the location is key for me and I love to shoot in golden hour.
What equipment do you typically take with you on a shoot?
This really does vary to be honest as it depends on the client’s desired outcome. So we will have in-depth chats beforehand so I know what to bring to create that vision.
Sometimes it can be minimal kit for natural light shots, such as my camera bodies (Nikon D750s) and lenses such as 70-200mm, 85mm etc. Other shots will require lighting gels, taking studio lighting if this is a location house that is hired and doesn’t come with equipment. I can even bring props for certain shots - sometimes you are travelling with the strangest of props such as giant flowers or angel wings!
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Do you have a camera equipment wish list? What will be your next purchase?
I have been looking at upgrading my kit, so potentially the Canon D850 and getting some of the profoto lighting.
Are there any specific tools or tricks you tried out to develop your fashion photography skills?
Pushing my narrative abilities further. Very much into the storytelling, as clients often hire me for my different take on a concept and how the images look more believable. I also love thinking about my marketing abilities. What's the good in being a good photographer if no one knows about it? You have to be able to sell yourself.
What words of wisdom would you give to budding photographers looking to focus on fashion photography?
Push, push, push. Look to really develop your skills but push on lots of different doors. As fashion is quite cut-throat, you need to become thick-skinned and know that not everyone will want to hire you or like your work. Make sure you have lots of avenues to look to develop your network and portfolio.
Why should budding photographers choose a career in fashion photography?
I think they should only pursue it if they are passionate about fashion and creating engaging work. It's not for the faint hearted and you have to have a real love for it. As the industry is constantly changing and evolving, you have to prepared to change with it. But it is incredibly rewarding to see your images used in campaigns and printed in storefronts.
What are the biggest challenges for fashion photographers?
I would say often being cut down on price as others in the industry might undercut, but then it sells the creativity and talent short. So often it can be a battle to look at booking in client work.
Does the ever changing world of fashion impact your work? How do you keep up with the industry?
Yes it can do. I'm always on Instagram and Pinterest watching the trends, and I look to do a few shoots per year just for editorial, to be able to get creative and build a new set of images just for me. Keeping my work fresh and not always just about client work.
What finishing touches do you tend to make to your shots? Are there any specific tools you would recommend?
This really does vary. Some clients want a more polished look, others are more filter style editing to fit in line with Instagram content. So it's all about adapting my style slightly to the client needs.
What do you think the future holds for the fashion photography niche?
I would say we are steering away from print and looking at much more instant imaging, where content can be uploaded quickly and customers can engage with brands on set of image making. This means the photographer has to diversify for social media and be able to have more of a quicker turnaround time.
Many thanks to Emma for taking the time out of her incredibly busy schedule to speak to us about her life as a fashion photographer. Visit Emma’s website to see more of her work and to read about some of the incredibly campaigns she’s been involved with.
If you’re keeping your options open and would like to find out more about various photography niches, head on over to the Peli UK Photography Hub, where you will find plenty of information about 9 of the UK’s most popular photography niches of today.
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