Fantasy is part of everyday life for Tigz Rice since the London-based photographer established herself at the forefront of burlesque and boudoir photography. With Tigz Rice Studios, she not only works with some of the industry’s leading performers around the world to produce elegant imagery dripping with glamour, but also gets out into the wider photography industry with her brand ambassadorial roles. Here Rice tells EIZO about the behind-the-scenes work that goes into her shots and her brand, and why she’s not afraid to share her techniques with the wider photographic community.
What drew you to burlesque and boudoir photography?
I’ve always had a love for burlesque, even before I really knew what it was. I remember getting some raised eyebrows from college tutors over the content of my Fine Art research projects. But the tipping point I think was a ‘Camp, Slag and Drag’ project set by my first year tutors at Westminster University, where my research led me to the Erotica show in London. I remember feeling like I’d found a goldmine of inspiration. It was a much smaller industry back then, so it took a fair amount of legwork, but I offered my services to a couple of venues and within a year had built up a strong enough portfolio of live performance work to pursue burlesque photography as a full time career.
There's a lot of storytelling in your images, what influences you?
I find inspiration in all manner of things, but my strongest concepts almost always come from fiction. We have a huge collection of books at home, predominantly fantasy and fairytale, which would probably explain the strong influence in my work! I also grew up on the stage, so have a strong affinity for the theatre.
Does the theatrical element of the shoots take a long time to prepare?
It really does depend on the project, but for the most part I’m working with the creative team for a minimum of four weeks before a shoot. This gives us plenty of time to work on the narrative of the shoot, perfect the styling and source a suitable location that’s going to compliment the concept.
Are most of the effects created on set or do you add things in post too?
There is an aspect of post-production on pretty much every project I work on. Sometimes it’s as simple as a quick exposure and crop adjustment in Lightroom. For other images I can spend up to an hour in Photoshop working on multi-image composites. My retouching skills developed from my illustration background so they are definitely a huge help and I’m actually hoping to bring some of my more illustrative digital composite techniques back into my photographic work over the next couple of months.
You use your illustration skills to work on branding for clients too, what was the secret to creating your own brand as Tigz Rice Studios?
A brand’s reputation is only as good as its weakest link, so when Tigz Rice Studios went through its rebrand in 2011 it was a huge 9-month process that included extensive research of my target market. The branding needed to be timeless and elegant to compliment my vintage aesthetic but also needed to be something I truly loved as I’d be applying it to everything I make for years to come! The end result included the rollout of a new logo, website and brand colours, but also extended into the tone of voice used in all correspondence and an investment into upgrading the quality of all the printed products used throughout the studio. It was a huge project, but it’s all worth it when someone tells me they love my business cards, or thanks me for the branded cards I write my thank you notes on.
You also work as an ambassador for various brands, how does this benefit your hands-on photography work?
My role as an ambassador is something I take great pride in. Having access to the Elinchrom Quadra lighting equipment through my partnership with The Flash Centre has revolutionised the way I shoot, giving me access to a whole new world of locations that were previously off limits, whilst my work with Wacom, Adobe, Datacolor and EIZO has really transformed and refined my skills as a retoucher and digital creative. The recent addition of the EIZO ColorEdge 27” Monitor with its matte screen makes it so much easier to see what I'm doing on intricate photo retouching jobs. It allows me to see much greater detail and, consequently, do my job better and more efficiently - to the point where a client has commented on noticing the difference.However, what I consider to be the biggest reward from my ambassador roles is the wonderful community of photographers, retouchers and digital artists that I have had the pleasure of meeting and working with. Nothing feels better than helping someone achieve their creative goals through sharing knowledge - and quite often I learn a thing or two myself!
Tigz Rice's Kit List:
- Canon 5D Mk III
- Canon 5D Mk II
- Go Pro Hero 3
- Canon 70-200mm f2/.8L
- Canon 50mm 1.4
- Elinchrom Quadra Hybrid RX 2 Head ‘A’ Kit with Li-On Batteries
- Rotalux 70cm Deep Oct.
- Rotalux 135cm Octa
- Canon 480 EXii Speedlite
- Memory cards and spare batteries
- Memory card reader
- Datacolor SpyderCheckr
- ThinkTank Shape Shifter Backpack
- Cintiq Companion
- EIZO CG277 - for more information on this and other monitor's in the EIZO range, visit the EIZO UK website.
- Wacom Intuos Pro
- Adobe Creative Cloud