Photographer Emma – Jane Lewis: My Main Focus is the Person in Front of Me
To begin, can you tell us a bit about yourself and how did you get into photography world? I am a 27 year old Photographer based in London. Originally starting in Devon, I learned my craft by shadowing photographers, mainly Sigma Studios who helped me develop the ideas around model direction, lighting and the business side of photography.
How would you describe your photographic style to someone who has never seen it? I would describe my style as quite conceptual; there is always a narrative, often quite soft and dreamy with certain props to help convey that story. I love a good location, so often my own projects and the celebrity projects, I’ve take time and money to make sure the right location is sourced to make the set of images stronger in narrative. My wedding work now has a strong fashion influence, so I often look to bring the styling and fun into the images, so that there is an overlap there.
What is going through your mind when you are behind the camera? My main focus is the person in front of me, so making sure they are ok, comfortable with the brief, but also how to get the best out of the angles, moving them or myself, adding different elements. I want to not be able to worry about what is going o around me, so it’s important to pick the right team. Hair and makeup, styling and direction etc. Should all be there as a support and seeing things I might not and step in when needed. As I don’t want to be concerned with something behind me, my focus should always be I front of me and the end goal in mind. I’m looking to see what sparks and interest in me in camera, to then evolve that Idea and also think about how I can then edit that into a final set of images.
Do you remember your very first paid photography gig? How did it go? To be honest, no! Ha! It seems so long ago. But I don’t remember anything negative when I started up, as my mentor really made me aware of the business side of things and protocols. Often think that universities and colleges sometimes skim over the business side of photography and how to navigate that client relationship. SO I was always quite aware of what my role should be in making sure the client is happy and the service is delivered.
How has photography experience changed your personal life? What did you learn? I think becoming a photographer has really changed my outlook on the world, I often see beautiful spaces and want to create a narrative in them, beautiful dress, great model and how this can be photographed. Looking at shapes and colors etc. I am also always on Instagram and Pinterest, as your mind is constantly in search of that inspiration.
Could you take us through the typical planning process for your images? What is your mental checklist before a shoot? Depending on the client, sometimes this can be a longer process. Form enquiry, to initial ideas to firming up those ideas. Sometimes this will be an in person meeting, others might be a phone call. Mood boards might be exchanged and also boards for the styling team. I often then look at research to how best to light something, especially if the brief is a little different. I also have my boyfriend who is also a photographer, so we are constantly talking about photography so I tend to run ideas and technical stuff past him and get his take on things. I might have to order certain props beforehand and then make sure everything is packed and items charged for the night before. Making sure everyone has a call sheet with emergency numbers and the right directions and what they should bring too.
What from your point of view makes the shoot successful? Planning is key as above. But also the ideas you generate on set, by the input from the team, a prop that sparks and idea of the position the model might do. But it also comes from the relationship that you build with the model and how much you can get cross in camera.
What are your favorite type of projects to work on, and why? The larger editorials or celebrity shots. As this is where the sets ad concepts will come into play. I feel I can really push the ideas and also ideally get this into print and help recognize the whole teams efforts.
Is there anywhere in the world you are fascinated about and you’d like to become a location for a shoot? I would love to photograph in sand dunes in Australia as well as more abandoned location, such as an abandoned city.
Why is having a makeup artist is essential to a photographer? Having the makeup artist allows everything to be executed well enough, it leaves me with less work in editing. If there is a particular theme or style this will also come across in makeup.
What would be your tips/advice to models looking to expand their portfolio? Start looking to work with photographers to help build your book. But also make sure they have something to work with, study videos, watch how other models move so that you are giving the photographer something to work with.
Would you have any tips for non-models on how to look good in front of the camera? Look to watch tutorials, see how catwalk models walk as well as look at lots of photos for the final result. Watch how the model howls herself and start to practice that.
From your point of view, what role image editing programs play in today’s photography? Is it important in your photography? I use editing a lot, even if this is to clean things up, or for the more concept shots, this is to look at creating more things in shot or something that was nowhere in camera. I do love editing and the whole other world you can create with it.
How do you choose which images you ultimately provide to your clients? For a wedding, the couple will choose from the selects I provide, so this is just removing anything that should not be edited. As I believe this is non commercial and it is a personal choice to them. Fashion or concept work I often choose the images that will create the most dramatic effect or what I can work with in editing. Certain commercial fashion work the client will have an image shoot to choose from which I will then retouch their selects.
What is the most important thing you want potential clients to know about you? My creativity and what I will look to provide that will be different to other shoots they have had done.
Tell us what has been your most memorable moment in your career so far? What are you proud of having reached? I am proud of my celebrity shoots, so working with Billie Piper and Vogue Williams has been a create impact on my career, to be able to be trusted to provide imagery for people like this. As well as photographing for the national campaign for Hawes and Curtis where this went nation wide on their store windows and online.
Emma, do you think you have experienced anything differently, artistically or business, because you are a woman? I think as a female photographer it can be hard. Kit is heavier, setting things up can be more tricky. Often when shooting with two cameras on an event etc. with telephoto lens can really put a strain on your arms and back. But you start to get used to this. I think it can help with the wedding side as the bride often feels more comfortable on getting ready shots. Although in fashion sometimes I have a small amount of stigma but I have been lucky not to have anything negative.
Do you feel social media has helped your career? What is one piece of advice you’d give to a young photographer working toward building their social media profile? I feel this has massively impacted on my work. This has allowed me to be found more easily, my work to reach more people. Basically a more accessible platform to showcase creativity. As well as putting me in touch with new people to work with in a team.
Where can readers see more of your work and get connected with you?
What is your favorite thing to do when you are not taking pictures? What else do you do besides photography? Photography has taken over my life! Ha so working freelance in London can be intense, so I do need to create a netter balance. I have recently joined the gym to be able to do some of their classes such as yoga and ab work so it can help be to keep myself focused. I also would like to travel more and have that down time.
What superpower do you wish you had? Why? Teleportation! I don’t really enjoy travelling and would love to be able to get places quicker. As well as being able to go abroad any time I want.. as long as I can take a team and passengers!
Tell one fact about you that readers may find quite surprising. Umm.. really not sure! But I have a assistant called Dexter.. he is a ginger cat! You will often find him pop up on my social media or at shoots!