Sunday, June 06, 2010

The Fashion Photographer - Feature Interview: India Hobson

Having been recently introduced to India's work i am shocked that I hadn't found her sooner, her work seems to express her personality and takes you to a dreamy world that makes you want to view more and more.

1. Fill me in on your background, where are you from and how did you get in to photography?

I fell into photography through a love of fashion images - at first it was British Vogue that had me when I was studying A Level Art at school, but that soon developed into a love affair with foreign magazines and the more experimental publications... I was an avid picture collector for my sketchbooks and I noticed myself enjoying collecting more than drawing my response; my 17th birthday present was a modest 35mm Minolta and I went from there... I'm a northern girl (Sheffield) and I come from a family of ridiculously creative people - and I suppose I couldn't really have done anything other than be a creative too! Photography was just a natural development for me as my drawing skills never communicated as accurately as I wanted...

2. Who has influenced you the most in terms of photography?

Inspiration-wise I look to lesser-known photographers such as Annette Pehrsson, Leon Mark and Anthony Crook.
Annette's blog is so beautiful and she holds such a delicate relationship with light and I really admire the way she places images together. Crook is one of my favourite portrait photographers as his work seems incredibly honest and has a strong cinematic element to it, and as for Leon - Polaroid, nuff said!
In the wider world I look to so many different places for inspiration in my work; Paolo Roversi, Joyce Tenneson and Chadwick Tyler melt me, Craig McDean, Nick Knight and Mariano Vivanco take my breath away and then there's the people closer to home: Andrew Farrington, Jay Mawson and Joseph Story... Its such a popular field and you can't fail to find a thousand people's work that you like, of course the downside is that there's a million more that make up your competition!

3. What is your favourate style of photography (Self portraiture? Fashion? Documentary)?

I don't know if there's an answer to that - I'm not sure I like to categorize and define so much, maybe a mixture of fashion and portraiture... Something thats not quite truthful but at the same time remains revealing if that makes any sense. I love to photograph others, and the male species in particular so I guess self portraiture takes a back seat, although I do love the challenge. The beauty in 'fashion' is that you dont really have to justify anything, it just 'is'.

4. What is your process when taking photo's, from getting ideas to editing?

I like to work backwards in a way; I like to source a model and work from them, rather than deciding on a concept and trying to find someone to fit. I never really have any preconceptions of what my images will look like before I start to take them - I find that if I have an idea then I might disappoint myself and I think often something is lost in the recreation of something, which is essentially what that is. I much prefer working with the model's look and personality and seeing what happens; I think it gives my work a more organic nature, and it means i'm always surprised instead of unsatisfied... and I tend to get very excited when I like what we're doing!

Again, in post-production I see what works and what doesn't. I like to play around with colours and contrast and the depth of blacks in my images but besides that, I don't really consider everything too much - that's what makes my work mine I guess; the confidence to know when i've got the shot and when it can stand up for itself without a load of layers and false processing.

5. What are your tools of the trade?

I work with a few different cameras; Canon 5D, Ricoh R1, Polaroid Land cameras and RB67 (sometimes with a Polaroid back too.) I'm a sucker for a homemade lens and have a decent collection! I use Adobe Lightroom to edit mainly. Lighting-wise i'm not afraid to play and I'm no snob; at the end of the day if it works then it doesn't matter who makes it or how much it cost!

6. Where do you hope to go with your photography?

I hope to continue to work with people that I get all excited and creative with and I wish to make work that makes me proud to say it's mine.

7. Why do you think people are drawn to fashion photography and editorials?

I think that fashion imagery allows a huge element of performance and people love to separate themselves from reality; we all live in a world of images and photography allows us to really push boundaries and challenge but also to dream and to just enjoy. Fashion work tends to be rich and sensual and we love to love - after all, its designed to advertise and so what we see we want. Editorials take that one step further; the stories make a single image a more rounded experience and that allows us to really imagine. The bottom line is that we like to pretend we're something more, and there's nothing wrong with that.

8. From looking at your work it seems like you prefer a light dreamlike quality, why do you prefer this style?

I think that just happens to be what comes out! As I said before, Paolo Roversi melts me, and I think its his influence that leads me in the
dreamy direction. I like to be free from sharpness and have a weakness for a shallow depth of field - and mixed light temperatures mean I can play with colours until the cows come home so I guess there's no other way for my work to look... Maybe I should play more!

9. Where would your dream location be to shoot the perfect fashion shot?

I've always had an aversion to heat - I figure-skated everyday before school from 7-14 so i'm aclimatised to the cold... Somewhere in the northern hemisphere and somewhere bleak where there's 300 million different types of grey and mist. Beautiful!

10. What is your best tip to taking a striking fashion portrait?

Without being too obvious; eyes are a huge aspect of a portrait and they dictate the viewers engagement with the image. Aside from that there aren't really rules - it all depends on what/who/how you're shooting.

11. Your photos seem to be of mostly women, why do you find women more interesting to photograph?

At the moment I don't! I have definitely shot with more females than males but at this point in time I'm compelled to photograph guys - to me there seems to be some sort of untouched element to working with guys, images of women are so common and everyone's notions of female beauty are obvious where as there's so much more to challenge with guys. I'm looking to work
with guys a lot more at the moment... and the emphasis on WITH, I shoot WITH, not AT.

12. What is your favourite fashion shot you have taken?

My favourite work is my editorial story 'Yesterday's News' that I shot recently for Supplementaire. I worked with a small but fantastic team (Mark Lavelle@D1, Krishan Parmar and Shell Sullivan) and created some quiet, soft images of 'a boy with a boat'. I'm not tired of looking at them all yet, and have lots of shots that didn't work into the magazine but still make me very happy!

13. What are some of you favourite films, books and musicians?

Perfume is a beautiful film - and unlike most book-to-film productions I think it has translated the written to visual incredibly well, as has A Clockwork Orange, which is so well written/directed. Inglorious Basterds is a film that I'd love to have been the DoP on - the light througout is stunning and i'd love to have said I had a hand in putting it together!
Book-wise I love To Kill A Mocking-Bird and The Virgin Suicides, both of which send me into a dream-like state of mind which seems to be reflected in my work. I listen to Sia, Editors and Jose Gonzales quite a bit, and have rinsed Bon Iver's For Emma as well as A Hundred Million Suns (Snow Patrol.) I also like Foo Fighters, Bloc Party and Coldplay - and in a completely different world; Michael Nyman.

14. What has been your biggest achievement so far with your photography?

I'd like to give 2 answers for this - a career-based one and a personal one. Career-wise I think i'll have to go with my contribution to Supplementaire again - i'm incredibly thankful to Ian Cole for letting me become involved in such a high standard publication, seeing my work next to some seriously talented photographers, stylists and model names really gave me a boost - and the whole issue has been curated beautifully.

Personally though, my biggest achievement is how comfortable I now feel when working - I have spent a long time really trying with my work and exploring certain techniques and making mistakes, now I feel that i'm much more relaxed and make my work organically without worrying about it. That to me means that I can go as far as I want to which is an extremely fortunate position to be in mentally.

15. Do you think its hard to be original in fashion? How do you keep your ideas original and fresh?

Of course; everything has been done and people will endlessly claim ownership over certain techniques/ideas etc yet on the other hand I always think that nothing can ever truly recreated and so even if someone were to try and 'copy' something it would still bear their mark on it. I prefer to think of ideas as a 'stimulus/respond' process, which through the production loses touch of the inspiration point so is inevitably 'different'. I like to avoid certain motifs that are famously used - for example Tim Walker's work; he's incredibly popular with most fashion photographers, and rightly so but alot of people attempt to bring oversized props and rabbits and an obvious fairytale element Shona Heath style, but what sets out to be 'inspired by' mostly ends up looking low budget and half-hearted. Instead I like to embrace the boundaries of a low budget and not hide that - if i can't paper a whole wall i'll make sure my viewers can see the edges or the tape that keeps it on the wall, suspended disbelief is a huge concept for me. To keep my images looking like mine rather than copies, I tend to make alot of my own props or sets - my theory is that if its handmade by someone, there cant really be anyone that can make an exact copy... I love unique items.

16. Which fashion photographer do you think i should interview next and why?

Andrew Farrington - he's a master of words as well as pictures and has a heart AND a soul - which is rare.

17. Do you often change alot of the original photo in photoshop?

Photoshop is not my main editing tool - I work primarily in Lightroom to tweak colours and only really use Photoshop for shadow/highlights and occasionally a filter. I sit on the fence when it comes to post-edit techniques; with my film work I rarely touch the images, the beauty for me is in their rawness - and likewise digitally, i like to keep as much of what happened in camera in the final image but thats not to say that I disagree with huge photoshop work; sometimes it really enhances the work.

18. Do you think you have an original style that is you own?

I think i'm getting there - I always hope to remain honest in my work and shy away from commercially rich cliches as I believe anyone can make that kind of work, it takes something special to make something that moves someone. I've just completed my degree and so feeling the need to throw myself into new work - I have a few exciting projects coming up that really have me engaged.

19. Give us the skinny, what's the next big project you've got coming up?

I'm working with a few different people; an ongoing portrait series with some excellent faces and a well-known clothing brand - better described as a philosophy than a company and i'll be continuing my Backstage work in conjunction with a camera company, thats still in the pipeline so can't say too much! My last big project resulted in a handmade book/magazine and i'm looking to continue along that strain - I love having control over my images right to the final product, its something that I never really appreciated until I began to get my work published.

20. Which actor would play you in the film of your life?

I thought Lost In Translation was pretty much spot on already, although obviously I look nothing like Scarlet, apart from the mouth! Thats a difficult question... Someone that has the ability to switch from quiet, contemplative and sanguine to a giddy entertainer rather quickly - and someone with a naturally mardy face, which gets me in trouble alot!

21. What did you want to grow up to be when you were a kid?

A window dresser - which isnt a huge step away from now... I always wanted to style windows until I found out you had to know how to put shelves up and drill things etc - I suppose I could have easily been a stylist, but I like that i found photography as every time I attempt to style I revert to a white dress, they're my photographic weakness. And flowers - i'm addicted to flowers!

Thank you so much India :)

If you haven't looked at her stream before you can find her Flickr here

Follow her on twitter here

See her website here

And finally her blog here

Please comment and show India your support :)

Hope you enjoyed reading...



  1. Nice interview, I really enjoyed reading this and enjoyed being name checked even more. Cheers!


  2. Uaau! All amazing images.

    Really appreciated coming here today :)