Wednesday, August 25, 2010

The fashion Photographer - Feature Interview: Lucia O'Conner-McCarthy

So everyone, say hello to Lucia, you can get lost in her work and be taken to a different world! I found Lucia from a suggestions on here from a follower, so thanking you mucho Florrie :)


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

I’m 21, from Hertfordshire and I’m currently studying philosophy in Dublin. In many ways photography is a bit of an escape for me. I signed up for a flickr account in January last year and I had a lot of stuff going on at the time, so picking up a camera was and still is very therapeutic for me.

We’re inevitably exposed to a constant stream of harsh realities throughout our lives and I think it is important to allow yourself to hope and dream, to reach beyond the grit. While I think truth is important I feel like it’s easy to get bogged down with a lot of what’s going on around us and we need a higher existence. I remind myself that the headlines do not necessarily represent all that exists in the world – for me, to believe there is nothing magical in life is not to live. Photography takes me to that magic place 


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

My father was my first influence – he is an artist himself and he taught me how to take my first picture. He helped explain the importance of composition and light to me – a great early lesson.

The real exploration of my photographic style began when I signed up for my flickr account a year and a half a go. There are so many talented artists on flickr I’m sure all of whom have influenced me in some way. My friend and photographer Lee Gladman has also been a bit of a mentor to me - His work is completely different to mine – Lee mostly shoots still life but he has taught me so much – his eye for detail is exceptional and he possesses a huge amount of technical knowledge (which I certainly don’t!) – Just generally he has really supported me, encouraged me with my work and given me some great advice so I owe a lot to him.

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

I appreciate all genres of photography but in terms of my own work I will always be drawn to fashion. Fashion allows us to create alternative realities – the combination of clothing, hair and make-up set/location etc creates a fairytale that you can believe in. I love looking at an image and essentially falling into someone else’s imagination – maybe somewhere along the line someone will fall into mine.

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

The things I find the most inspiring are always drawn from nature so it is usually when I am by the sea or in a forest, surrounded by snow or basking in shimmering sunlight that ideas for editorials occur to me. A lot of the time I will think of something and just write it as a text message in my phone and save it as a draft. Sometimes my ideas will arrive because of a person - whether it be a beautiful girl or boy who will be the centre of the editorial or a particularly inspiring stylist, designer or hair/make-up artist. I will sketch out a lot of the ideas for the various different elements of the shoot and contact the team I would like to make it all happen and explain the concept and make sure everyone is on the same page. A lot of the time my favourite shots are the ones I didn’t really plan so although its good to be very well prepared I try not to over analyze the actual photograph taking.

5. What are your tools of the trade?

My imagination, Nikon D80, tripod & sunshine (I very rarely if ever use artificial light). I don’t own a lot of equipment – I have been saving up for some new lenses though. I also recently got a fantastic Wacom pad as a birthday present for post processing.

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

Anywhere it will take me! I have no idea where I will go with my photography but my dream would be to be able to continue my work on a full time basis after I finish my degree. To be honest at the moment I’m just having an amazing time experimenting with my work and meeting so many lovely people – I’ll be taking photographs forever.

, originally uploaded by ***Lucia O'Connor-McCarthy***.

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

Again, I think fashion is a genre that just really allows for an exploration of the imagination. People will always be attracted to beautiful things, it's in our nature, and I think a lot of people allow themselves to be drawn in by editorials. I also think there is generally a great mystery that comes with fashion photography – I’m always being asked for pictures behind the scenes etc the fashion world is a curious place.

, originally uploaded by ***Lucia O'Connor-McCarthy***.

8. On your Flickr it seems like you focus on playing with post processing/colours etc, what is your process with this and why do you choose to do it?

I’m not really sure - its funny because a lot of other work I admire is processed in a more contemporary way to mine and although I never intentionally set out to, I am always drawn to the retro and vintage hues. Purple tones feature quite a bit in my work – probably because it’s my favourite colour. My images are normally in colour – again I’m entirely sure about the reason for this I guess I just don’t see the world in black and white.

9. Who are some other fashion photographers you admire?

Where to start?! Tim Walker’s imagery is so inspirational I could gush for hours about it! I also love Sarah Moon, Wendy Bevan (I’m a huge fan), Camilla Akrans, Sebastian Kim, Ellen Von Unwerth.

there's a model in my shower

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

Hmm…this is quite a tough question – I’m almost certain I’m not qualified to answer it! The best suggestion I can make is try and do something different – even if its been done before - look at a concept at every angle – how can you interpret it and how can you make it interesting and different? I suppose what I’m really saying is ultimately how can you make it yours?

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

This is an interesting observation and it has been mostly true up until now – I’ve actually just started shooting boys more recently which I’ve really enjoyed. I do love photographing women though – I love femininity and I feel often there is more scope for what you can do in terms of hair, make-up and styling. Obviously this is not always the case – you can be as outrageous as you like in fashion photography so males are often dressed in eccentric ways! On the whole though I prefer shooting women its true.


12. For all those out there who aren't aware, how do you find you models for editorials?

Well I started graduating towards fashion last summer – I just began by photographing my friends. Later I signed up to a creative social networking site – Model Mayhem – I have met and worked with some fantastic people though that and I still use it for finding wardrobe stylists, hair & make-up artists so I would really recommend for anyone starting out in the fashion industry – there are so many hugely talented creatives using it. However more recently I have started working with model agencies so although I still shoot my friends for fun I tend to use professional agency signed models for my editorial shoots now.

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

At the moment it’s probably this one:

I loved this shoot. I worked hard making sure everything was exactly how I envisaged it with meetings and throwing lots of emails back and forth! The team that I worked with are very talented and they totally got what I was after. With this particular image I had a lot of different things floating around my head while I was processing it – The shoot was inspired by Alice in Wonderland so I wanted to create this diptych image representing a sort of tweedle-dee, tweedle-dum effect. The smoke in the image is also a play on the character of the smoking caterpillar in the story – If you look closely you will be able to make out this particular character in the image enveloping my twins! People have commented that there is something slightly ominous about this image but I think Alice and Wonderland is pretty dark – it’s riddled with sinister connotations and I wanted to show this aspect.

Ballad Of magazine ♥

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

I am a fantasy girl through and through – I have always been drawn to magic and mystery. Some of my favourite films are the BFG, the Neverending Story, Lord of the Rings, the Labyrinth – I also love Under The Tuscan Sun. My favourite books are Harry Potter (I’m a huge fan I can’t deny it!), I also really like some of Maeve Binchey’s novels. On the whole I like feel good films & books - I try and stay away from depressing films and intense novels – I’m too sensitive for a lot of it and unfortunately I come away from it all with a heavy heart. In terms of musicians I really like David Bowie and Stevie Wonder – I also love Irish folk music – I know it might sound a bit silly but that’s the music that really touches my soul – it’s the only way to describe it!

, originally uploaded by ***Lucia O'Connor-McCarthy***.

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

I’m not sure…I mean it seems strange to me that I only signed up for flickr at the beginning of last year – I think a lot has changed since then – my first uploads are very different from the work I produce today – They’re terrible really but I keep them up so I can see my progress. I’d like to think I’ve improved a bit since then! I had a 2 month solo exhibition ‘Headscapes’ last year during the Christmas period which was really nice. I’ve also met some really lovely people who have a real passion for what they do and the fact that they want to work with me is just incredible really – It’s a real privilege. I’ve also assisted some fantastic photographers recently so I know I still have a way to go yet 

VECU cover

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

I think it’s hard to be original in anything! Every speck of visual data we possess is borrowed from something we have experienced – We consistently recycle ideas and inspiration. Fashion is a prime example of this we’re always encountering new re-vamped interpretations of previous styles. I use a sketchbook when I am planning new concepts for editorials which consists mostly of a montage of images – not necessarily fashion – which I borrow, interpret and eventually present to the world so I’m sure the root of my photograph can always be traced back to something else I’ve experienced. Although in saying this, I do always hope to have created something fresh – a different interpretation of a similar idea perhaps.

17. How do you get you work printed and how do you approach magazines?

It’s a bit of a mixture – Sometimes I will come across a magazine I really like an email them to ask whether they accept submissions. Other times a magazine editor will have come across my work and ask me whether I want to do something for them – such as with the ‘Heads Will Roll’ editorial I shot for KISMET magazine. Another exception is when I work with another creative such as a designer or wardrobe stylist who has a specific idea geared towards a particular magazine they want it to be featured in.

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

I would be very interested to read what Tim Walker has to say, if not Tim then I think a young photographer, Nirrimi, would be a great choice – her images have such a raw beauty to them (www. - she’s also just shot the new Diesel campaign.

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

It depends – I don’t over manipulate images – I’m a strong believer in you can’t make something out of nothing – This is no disrespect meant to those who do invariably manipulate their images - What I mean by this is I don’t think you can ever make a great photograph out of something that wasn’t special to begin with. I use Photoshop mostly for colours and toning & retouching.

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

I’m not sure – I’ve only really been working for a very short time so I expect that my style is still evolving and will continue to do so for a while. However I will always be drawn to imagery with a more ethereal quality to it – I don’t expect to be a documentary photographer capturing war or violence in the future – it’s just not me. But then again who knows? To label is to limit I suppose…!

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

Love that expression…! Well I actually have my very own website coming out soon which I’m excited about at the moment!, I’ve also got lots of new editorial concepts that I’m excited to start putting teams together for. I’ve been approached by some amazing creative people recently too – a lot of who I’d be really privileged to work with so its pretty mental even receiving an email from them. I’m also excited to work with all these fantastic new faces I’ve been introduced to – particularly from models1 (model agency) – lots of lovely girls and boys on their books!


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

I was actually pretty strange when I was little. I was really into all those interactive Dorling Kindersley learning CD-ROMs. I think I wanted to be an archeologist – I actually used to have a subscription to a magazine about rocks (I know…) and I would receive a new precious stone in a little plastic box cello taped to the magazine with each issue – It was exciting stuff for an 8 year old like myself!

Anastasia, originally uploaded by ***Lucia O'Connor-McCarthy***.

Thank you Lucia :)

Check out more of Lucia's work on Flickr

And her website

Please everyone comment and let Lucia know your thoughts and as always thank you for stopping by!



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