Flair |fler| 1. A special or instinctive aptitude or ability for doing something well.
Today on Creative Flair we have Sophie, apart from being a really good friend of mine, she always manages to keep me on my toes with her risqué work - I love it! Nothing is more inspiring than having an artist unafraid to push those boundaries that makes some of us jaw-drop. This gem of a lady knows her stuff, and has a real eye for creating cringe-worthy ideas into beautiful pieces of work - that's talent!
In a few sentences describe yourself and what you do.
I’m a London-based photographer specialising in fine art photography and alternative image making. I have shown work at the UK photo biennale and working towards an exhibit in October. I am currently assisting the Artist Mat Collishaw with his photographic project for BBC Arts .
How did you first get into photography and what's your favorite part about it?
I first got into photography when I was around 18, quite late. I studied art at school but then specialised when I went to college (equivalent to U.S. high school) and then onto the London College of Communication. It was tough, but it was fantastic for growing and exploring. We were taught by practicing artists and photographers, which was an invaluable experience.
My work is more art-photography based, which allows me to feel a lot freer with what I produce. I have a lot of interest in alternative processes like Van Dyke, Cyanotype, and Liquid light. There are so many different avenues with photography as a base; breaking down the layers before the final image is produced is what I enjoy most. It has a lot more qualities than people realise, and is not limited to image taking but image making.
I’m currently working on a new project - screenshots of erotica that I re-photograph, paint onto, and then transfer to a digital negative. It is total control over the image, which is interesting when it comes from something already so controlled.
Photography is a fantastic tool in the creation of art, but I also like it in its purest form - it’s a connector. We are all naturally voyeuristic; photography feeds our image saturated culture.
Since you moved to London, do you think the city has influenced your photography style & how?
Moving to London influenced my photography not only from where I studied, but the friends I hung out with and the people I've met along the way. The amount of private views and exhibitions you have access to is amazing, which can quickly build up relationships with others in your field. It's really important to keep going to functions and networking with others to talk about your work; London makes it easy for one to do that. I wouldn't want to be anywhere else for pursuing my career.
Do you have any creative heroes that you admire and have inspired you?
In terms of heroes I would say Chris Von Wagenhiem and Helmut Newton were my first big influences. I was obsessed with the glamour of the ages in which they worked- the 70s and 80s, Studio 54 eras, decadence and strong women.
When I was in University, I was mentored by photographer Esther Teichmann, whose work is just stunning. I really like pictorial photographers; Henry Peach Robinson and Emerson. They were able to construct a scene, and use the medium like a form of alchemy.
Sally Mann will always be a big influence- stunning large format work; a morbid and melancholic undertone to her photographs that is hard to ignore. I can’t escape the fact that I am drawn to the unsettling, images like Antoine D’Agata’s - a Magnum photographer whose body of work encompasses shooting galleries, brothels, and the extremes of drug use in Cambodia. It is some of the most shocking and disturbing stuff I’ve ever seen- it's both repulsive and beautiful to say the least.
Top of the list would be the artist Mat Collishaw, who has had a significant influence over my practice- assisting him is a total dream. I’m fascinated by what interests him; the dark and the taboo. It’s very exciting being around someone whose mind works in that way. The best line I got out of him was, ‘when I see a beautiful flower I just want to give it gonorrhea!’ It’s that desire for corruption, pushing boundaries that interests me. Work that grabs you by the neck and won’t let go. I like artists that make you feel something, force you into being. That is what art is about.
Alongside established artists, I get most of my inspiration from my friends; what they are doing now. A lot of them still work on projects. I find that exciting - it’s very current.
What is your favorite piece of work you have done and why?
This is tough, but I think my favourite is my 'Momento Mori' portraits of young girls. They are shot in the style of Victorian death portraits and printed by Van Dyke; an old process using silver nitrate, which creates beautiful sepia toned images. They slowly fade over time, so it’s the element of attempting to capture both youth and beauty. I also like my family series, ‘Before You Were Mine’ - it’s very personal work that is distant and emotional.
Overall, I’m hoping my current work will be my favourite. It is a still life based on ideas of debauchery, desire and greed- basically sin.
Do you have a dream/goal that you wish to aspire?
I want to continue to make images and to be known for my work, whether it be a form of creative consultancy or photography/art in its own right. I also enjoy the curatorial side and knowing what people are working on; being a part of developing their practice alongside my own. I would also like to end up having a photo book - I think that's every photographers' dream at the moment!
As a travel junkie myself, if you could live and work anywhere in the world, where would you go and why?
Either stay in London or go to San Francisco - I’ve never been, but I imagine I would love it!
Early bird or night owl?
I enjoy working really late into the night- 1AM is a really good creative time for me, sadly it's now been refined to only the weekends.