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Young photography talent - Sophie Pycroft is young, talented and talking to ePHOTOzine about life as a new photographer.
"I always enjoyed art at school and found that I was particularly good at collage, piecing together different shapes and textures to make complex 2D images. This eventually progressed to experimentation in photography. I didn’t pick up the technical side straight away, but knew I had an eye for colour, shape and composition. My enthusiasm for fashion and magazine print meant this was a natural direction to exert my creative energy.
After finishing my A-levels I continued to research and practice photography, and my ability has grown through self study.
I didn’t start at a particularly young age, I was 17 before I used a DSLR! My progress has been fairly quick, and my ideas and style develop rapidly in my head. However, I decided I had to be a fashion photographer while I was studying for a degree in journalism. I knew I was in the wrong degree but stuck with it, and now I’m one of the youngest to do the MA Fashion Photography course at the London College of Fashion."
Can you describe your style?
"My style has become more defined with every shoot. I aim to make my work distinctive by filling the frame with detail to create a narrative. Location work helps me do this but when I do experiment in the studio I like to find a way to bring a story or a theme into it, rather than a blank space.
Fantasy plays a big part in the style of each shoot. I try and think how I can make it more imaginative. I like to offer some escapism, to take the viewer to a different place other than just a studio, or a street, or a plain room. I like to think up imaginary places and try to construct these as part of the image. Each component works to create an illusion."
Are there any photographers who have influenced you?
"Tim Walker has been a big influence with the theatricality of his sets, but I generally prefer sharper, more futuristic styles such as that of Rasmus Mogensen. I also love the diversity of Steven Meisel’s fashion shoots.
One thing that influences me is beautiful documentary photography, such as pictures by Henri Cartier-Bresson."
Do you plan your shoots?
"Always. I plan a shoot with a set of images that I want to achieve in my mind, and try to bring together all the elements required to achieve them. However, you can’t plan every detail, and you may be inspired to try something on the day, or something happens so that your plans change and you have to think of something else. Usually I’m lucky and everything works in my favour, but there have been some interesting accidents."
Where do you do most of your work?
"I love location, so I’m constantly on the look out for unusual sites, or places I can construct a set for a shoot. The weather usually presents a challenge. While the weather is good I’ll shoot outdoors, using natural light, but when it turns bad I’ll compose sets for shoots indoors. Then it becomes a challenge of finding and lighting the right space."
Do you have anything you like to focus on? Cover more than anything else?
"The small details are important to me. The mise-en-scène of each shoot is essential to producing a narrative, and makes the viewer look deeper into the image. With fashion photography it’s always important to display the product, but I try to show off all the details without making the image purely about the garments."
Do you do any post production work?
"I try to do as little post production as possible. Part of my style is that the models don’t look over edited, and small imperfections in the background are left so that there is some sense of reality. I aim to get as much of the desired finished effect in camera, but use Photoshop to enhance aspects such as colour, sharpness and contrast."
What equipment can you not be without?
"I couldn’t be without my laptop. I’m always networking to bring together the creative teams that are essential to each shoot. My camera is only semi-professional at the moment, I’m using a Canon EOS 50D, but it provides such fantastic results. I always bring my first Canon to shoots with me, my 400D, it’s like a good luck charm."
What's the best thing someone's said to you about your work?
"When I’m asking for critique, rather than say ‘what do you think?’ I ask ‘what’s wrong with this?’ That way you get a more honest opinion and it helps to improve your work, so all creative criticism is positive.
I love it when people remark that my work is unique, but the best comment was one that a friend left on one of my images online, they said: ‘I was flicking through a magazine and saw this, and said that looks like a Sophie Pycroft shot', It was."